About 80,000 workers from 60-odd companies in this industrial hub stayed away from work on Tuesday to protest the death of a worker in an automobile firm here.

Work was affected in many companies in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt as workers did not turn up on Tuesday morning. They supported the strike called by All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

"Around 80,000 workers from around 60 companies have joined the strike. The workers are holding sit-in protests outside their companies demanding action against RICO management for the death of the worker," AITUC Gurgaon national secretary D.L. Sachdev told IANS.

RICO, an auto-parts manufacturing unit, has been seeing labour unrest for the past one month. Late Sunday, a clash broke out in the factory between workers who were on strike and those who wanted to get back to work. The situation spun out of control and left one worker dead and several others injured.

According to Mr. Sachdev, the workers will sit together after Tuesday's strike to decide the future course of action.

"RICO workers have a right to form trade union but the management is not ready for it. The workers have been deprived of their right to form a trade union and we will not let this happen," said Mr. Sachdev.

The district administration had Monday constituted a four-member committee, under the chairmanship of Additional Deputy Commissioner Pushpender Chouhan, to resolve the dispute between the factory management and labour union.

"We have not received any message from either the district authorities or the company to settle the matter," AITUC Gurgaon general secretary Anil Kumar said.

Mr. Kumar said work in several companies including Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), Microtech, component makers Lumax, Sunbeam and Caparo Maruti has been affected.

Surender Singh, RICO senior vice president Human Resource, said: "The workers were involved in violence and they damaged company property and attacked senior employees of the company."

Amid fears that the strike may also affect traffic on the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8, the authorities here have made elaborate security arrangements.

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