Over two hundred agitating workers at Hyundai Motor India’s Sriperumbudur plant were arrested on Tuesday, the second day of the strike, the police said.
The arrests come at a time when the management and the workers were trying to resolve their differences at a reconciliation meeting mediated by the state Deputy Commissioner of Labour. The meeting, however, was inconclusive and will resume Wednesday.
According to the police, the arrested workers were part of a group of 230, who went into the plant on Monday for the second shift and stayed on, declaring a ‘sit-in-strike’ and stalling assembly work.
The company said it had suffered a loss of around Rs 130 crore due to the halt in production for the second day, which meant that 4,400 units could not be assembled.
The police said six workers were arrested on Monday for allegedly hurling stones and damaging property.
When contacted, a Hyundai Motor India Ltd spokesperson said: “The strike is illegal and so we had filed a police complaint. The police has acted on this and evicted about 200 striking workers.” The company is trying to resume normal production as soon as possible by resolving the issues with workers, he said.
Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU) president and CITU’s Tamil Nadu Committee general secretary A. Sounderarajan said, “The arrest will only aggravate the situation.”
Under the aegis of HMIEU, the striking workers are demanding the reinstatement of 67 workers, who were part of a group of 87 workers dismissed last year.
The flash strike that started on Monday caused a loss of about Rs 65 crore to the company on the first day, with a production loss of 2,200 cars.
Hyundai employs about 10,000 workers at its plant, which has a production capacity of around 50,000 units per month.
Last July, the management and striking workers signed a wage settlement agreement, following which 20 of the 87 dismissed workers were reinstated. HMIL also gave a pay hike of 21-24 per cent over a three-year period to the workers.
HMIL said it had already reinstated the workers dismissed in December last on “humanitarian grounds”, based on negotiations held in the presence of the State Government.
The latest strike is the third instance of worker unrest in the plant within a year. The union had gone on strike from April 20 to May 7, 2009, demanding recognition and denouncing the dismissal of 80 employees. The strike ended after a meeting was called by the state labour commissioner on May 17, 2009. However, this strike was followed by another in July last year.