Laid off workers of Stumpp Schuele & Somappa Springs Pvt. Ltd., who have been protesting against what they call an “illegal lockout” since the beginning of March, observed ‘Shaheed Diwas’ in memory of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev here on Sunday.

Around 350 workers — both permanent and contract — have been demonstrating against their removal from the company, located on Hosur Road, saying the partial lockout was a reaction to the merger of their union into the Stumpp Schuele & Somappa Springs Pvt. Ltd. Permanent/Contract Employees’ Association in July 2013.

N. Ravikumar, general secretary of the association, said four contract workers were laid off on March 1. “So we protested against it on that day. But we did not strike work. On March 6, they announced a partial lockout. But employees who are engineers and grades above that are still working. Moreover, they have hired labourers on contract basis or as casual trainees from other States. The workers who were laid off are machine operators and have been working for decades,” he said.

Workers and office-bearers from labour unions of permanent and contract workers from various industrial establishments and factories, including Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board Workers’ Union, Mico-Bosch Workers Union, Gandhinagar Street Vendors Union, BHEL Contract Employees’ Union, Larson & Toubro Contract Workers’ Union, HAL Contract Workers’ Union, Bangalore Turf Club Workers’ Union, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Contract Pourakarmikas Union, and LaFarge Workers’ Union took part in the protest on Sunday.

S. Balan, State president of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), said the situation faced by contract workers in the plant was similar to that being faced by their counterparts in all of Bangalore and questioned why people with the same qualification doing the same work on the same machine were made to work as engineer, permanent worker, contract worker, casual worker or trainee.

Mr. Ravikumar added that a meeting has been scheduled on Monday with Labour Department officials.

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