People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 43

October 24, 2010




State Govt must Intervene for Settlement


ON October 19, through a letter written to the Tamilnadu chief minister, CITU general secretary Tapan Sen sought to draw his attention to the ongoing industrial unrest in the units of FOXCONN, a multinational company, in Kanchipuram district of Tamilnadu. The letter urged the chief minister’s effective intervention to resolve the crisis in the best interest of the company and its 7400 workers.


The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), which is representing the FOXCONN workers, had submitted a charter of demands to the management and has been demanding its settlement through the democratic process of collective bargaining.


Unfortunately, the management has not been responding to the workers’ demands. On the contrary, the former resorted to repressive measures including victimisation of the union leadership.


In the situation, the FOXCONN workers had no other alternative but to resort to peaceful and democratic trade union steps and ultimately, under compulsion due to the anti-worker behaviour of the management, went on a strike on September 22. At this point the were Right to Trade Union and Right to Collective Bargaining were the focal issues. 


The state’s Labour Department intervened only on commencement of the strike and asked the union to withdraw it, with the assurance that conciliation proceedings on its charter of demands will commence on September 27. The union responded positively by calling off the strike and the workers resumed their work on September 23.


Shockingly, however, the management of the company, instead of reciprocating the union’s gesture, imposed a heavy penalty of eight days’ wage cut for one day strike. Moreover, 23 office bearers of the union were suspended and various other vindictive actions inflicted upon the workers. Simultaneously, serious provocation came from the management when they announced that they had reached a settlement with a non-existent trade union without any following among the FOXCONN workers. Moreover, the so called settlement has been kept a closely guarded secret.


In view of the foregoing an explosive industrial relations situation came up. The workers resorted to another strike from September 24, which is continuing. In the meantime, the state Labour Department remained totally indifferent to the industrial unrest.


Meanwhile, the management caused police action against the workers by lodging false and fabricated cases against CITU activists. The police arrested more than 300 workers including state CITU general secretary A Soundararajan and its Kanchipuram district secretary E Muthukumar. They are still languishing in jail. The atrocities perpetrated on the leaders were shocking; they were handcuffed while being produced in the court and during their return to the jail.


It is absolutely clear that the whole unfortunate situation has been created by the management by their refusal to recognise the legitimate trade union, coupled with the mysterious inaction on part of the state Labour Department and highhandedness of the police administration.


The basic issues in this case are of the workers’ right to form a trade union and freedom to join a trade union of their choice, and the right to negotiate for an amicable settlement of their charter of demands. In this situation, the state government must intervene to ensure the following:


1) The FOXCONN management must enter into a dialogue with the union and settle the charter of demands amicably.

2) All police cases must be withdrawn and the leaders released from jail forthwith to create a congenial atmosphere for dialogue.

3) All victimisation actions of the management against the workers and union leaders must be revoked.


At the same time, the state government must also ensure that the police and administration are not utilised by the management for in suppressing the democratic trade union rights of the workers.