Kolkata: The month-old strike at the Hindustan Motors Ltd’s Uttarpara plant in West Bengal may not end anytime soon, with the country’s oldest carmaker refusing to come to the negotiating table citing lawlessness and brutality by workers.
That decision came even as the state government announced a tripartite meeting along with the management and trade unions that make the Ambassador car.
On Tuesday, Debasish Mukhopadhyay, a manager of the plant, was beaten up, leaving him in a critical condition at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute Hospital.
This incident, coupled with some other episodes of harassment, led the company to suspend work at the plant. Fighting between worker factions for over a month has led to sporadic incidents of violence at the unit, which forced the company to also seek court protection.
The Calcutta High Court then issued an order on 29 March, restraining striking employees from preventing entry and exit of raw materials and workers, and asking local authorities to ensure the orders are enforced. Some 45 workers were suspended and charge-sheeted after the court order.
“Unless the law and order situation is restored within the facility, we are not ready for talks in a hostile atmosphere,” said Soni Shrivastav, the company spokesperson. “It is no longer an industrial relations issue, it is a case of lawlessness.”
Meanwhile, the representatives of three unions, Sangrami Shramik Karmachari Union, the Indian National Trade Union Congress and All India Trade Union Congress, have submitted a proposal demanding the suspension and charge-sheet against minimum 10 workers be withdrawn immediately, so they can return to work and the factory can resume operations.
But the company has made it clear that only after normal working conditions are restored at the plant, will the management consider negotiations and review the suspension orders.