Hyundai workers plan to go on strike from 5 Dec

Hyundai workers plan to go on strike from 5 Dec

New Delhi: Less than a month after the new managing director of Hyundai Motor India Ltd took over, workers have threatened to go on strike if their union isn’t recognized by the firm.

The Hyundai Motor India Employees Union informed the company on Thursday that it plans to strike work starting 5 December. If the strike goes according to schedule, this will be the third time in the past nine months that production at Hyundai’s India unit has been disrupted over labour unrest.

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The threat of a strike comes in the backdrop of increased protests by workers in companies across India. In September, a manager at Coimbatore’s Pricol Ltd was killed by protesting workers. Last month, workers at Gurgaon-based Rico Auto Industries Ltd struck work demanding better pay as well as reinstatement of dismissed workers. The strike disrupted production at the North American plants of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co..

“Labour strikes are a direct function of the growth a sector experiences. Growth in the auto industry has been a lot slower over the past year than earlier years," said Pankaj Chadha, director, automotive practice, at Ernst and Young, a consultancy.

The workers have not made any monetary demand, according to spokesperson Rajiv Mitra. He said that at an average of Rs40,000 a month, Hyundai’s workers are the best paid in the country. The union’s main demand remains that the company recognize it. Hyundai, however, maintains that the Workers Committee is the only legitimate workers’ body.

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“If such an action is resorted to, it will disrupt production resulting in loss of revenue and delayed distribution and will act as a deterrent for industrial peace and harmony in Tamil Nadu," Mitra said in an email.

Hyundai said the main reason behind the strike call was to disrupt elections to the Workers Committee set for December.

A. Soundarajan, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions’ Tamil Nadu chapter, which has in the past supported strikes at Hyundai, declined to comment. Hyundai had hoped that a recent change of leadership—H.W. Park took over as managing director from H.S. Lheem—coupled with an agreement it reached with the union in July would result in better relations between the workers and management.

At his first media interaction last week, Park had said that he hoped to maintain industrial peace during his tenure. The company had no plans to slow investments or shift production out of India due to labour troubles, Park had said then.

Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint