India: Alfa Laval Workers’ Strike

Workers from Swedish company Alfa Laval India Pvt Ltd. situated at Kasarwadi, Pune are on strike for the last three months

Below we publish a short report of the strike of the Alfa Laval workers in Pune, India.

Workers from the Swedish company, Alfa Laval India Pvt Ltd. situated at Kasarwadi, Pune are on strike for the last three months (from September) with the main demand to make them permanently employed. Alfa Laval is involved in the production of heat exchangers.

More than 400 workers are on strike. Of them, 80% have been working in the company for the last 10 to 15 years. The remaining workers have completed at least 4 to 5 years’ service. Many of them have been treated as trainees since their employment began, with a payment of roughly between Rs. 8000 and 10,000, which is hardly sufficient to make ends meet. The company did not make most of the workers permanent, when it should have after 240 days since joining, violating the labour laws of the land. Most of them were in fact hired as sweepers and cleaners on paper, when in fact they are actually involved in production and are trained workers with diplomas (ITI). The company currently has only 60 permanent workers and another 250 semi-permanent workers (who have yet to show solidarity with their striking compatriots and are affiliated to different unions).

New Socialist Alternative members discussing with the workers on strike

Fed up by the company’s ignoring of their demands, the contract workers decided to strike in September of last year. The company cold-heartedly dismissed all of them, but determined struggle by the workers and pressure on the labour office has forced the labour commissioner to order the company to take back all the workers, which the company still refuses to do. Now the case is in another court and the verdict is expected soon.

The contract workers are organized in Rashtree Shramik Agardi that is affiliated to a Trade Union belonging to the sugar baron, Sharat Pawar’s, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The permanent workers are affiliated to separate unions. The trade uion policies of the mainstream political parties have only sought to divide the working class, and served to the company’s advantage.

New Socialist Alternative (CWI in India) stands in solidarity with and supports all the demands of the workers. We Demand:

• To reinstate all the sacked workers without conditions

• The company management must engage in immediate negotiations with the workers’ union and settle all of the workers demands

• Regularization of all Contract workers and abolition of the Contact labour system

• For the right of workers to form their own union under democratic principles without interference from the company management

• The government must legislate and strictly implement labor laws including the right to form Trade Unions and the workers’ right to strike

It is imperative on the leadership of the Unions to support the development of industry/trade-wide unions on a Town, City, State and National basis strictly run on the basis of grassroots democracy, which would be enormously effective in fighting for better wages and conditions, rather than the current fractured unions under the control of political parties, NGO’s etc.

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January 2014