(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 13, 2011
REDDY LAB WORKERS STRUGGLE IN AP
Over 100 Workers Injured in
Brutal Crackdown by Police
THE manufacturing unit of pharma giant, Dr Reddy’s Laboratory at Pydi Bheemavaram in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, became a war zone on November 4 as the police brutally cracked down on workers who have been on strike for the last 87 days demanding better wages and work conditions. In their eagerness to please the management of the company, the police resorted to a massive lathi charge and firing of tear gas shells resulting in injuries to over 100 workers, some of whom were severely injured. Three constables and a television reporter were also injured in the melee.
The management of
company has been consistently violating the labour laws.
Over 650 workers in
this unit are working on “contract” basis for the last 16
years and they are
paid a lowly wage of Rs 5500 per month while the law
stipulates payment of
equal wage for equal work. These workers have been demanding
payment on par
with regular workers i.e. Rs 12,000 per month. The
management makes them work
for extra hours without paying any extra wages. After an
initial phase of
struggle in February of this year, under the leadership of
CITU, the management
agreed to rectify the situation but took no action. Like
Suzuki management, it
resorted to punitive measures against trade union organisers
among the workers.
It abruptly transferred 12 leaders to its
In such a situation, the contract workers began a strike on August 12 demanding the management to honour the agreement reached earlier. The adamant management preferred to stop production at the unit rather than concede the demands of the workers. As part of this struggle, the CITU called for an industrial bandh on November 4 in solidarity with the struggling workers of Reddy Laboratory. Workers of 24 factories from the surrounding areas participated in the bandh. Around 4000 workers of another major pharma industry, Aurobindo, including its 1000 permanent workers participated in the strike. Over all, around 10,000 workers marched to the Reddy Laboratory unit and held a sit-in demanding the management to hold talks with the workers and settle their demands.
The huge posse of police at the factory gate brutally lathicharged the peacefully protesting workers without any prior warning. The workers who resisted this were showered with tear gas. 10 workers lost consciousness, in this firing of the tear gas rounds and over 100 injured in the second round of lathicharge. MVS Sharma, MLC; Chowdary Tejeswara Rao, Srikakulam district secretary of CPI(M); Tammineni Sitaram of TDP; Prakash of the New Democracy; PAruna of CITU participated in this protest in solidarity with the workers. Panchadi Papa Rao of CPI(M), Vempatapu Lakshmana Rao and Tadivalasa Srinivasarao, both workers, were amongst those who were seriously injured.
A day before the besieging of the factory, union leaders and district administration officials held a meting with the management of the factory. The hostile attitude of the management resulted in the failure of the talks.
The serious situation at the Reddy Laboratories forced the district collector to intervene and direct the management to hold talks with the agitating workers. The talks began on the night of November 4 and are still continuing at the time of writing this. The leaders of the opposition, who went to the factory in solidarity with the workers, explained the serious situation to the district collector and the SP.