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GM strike enters 6th day; production remains hit


Production remains hit at the General Motors' (GM) Halol plant as the workers' strike entered its sixth day today. The factory is yet to resume normal operations. A couple of hundred workers staged a dharna outside the factory gates today demanding a cut in workload, cancellation of transfer orders among other issues.

Nearly 900 workers at the plant had gone on an indefinite strike from second shift on Wednesday, March 16, while around 350 workers joined work on Friday, March 18. Till Friday the strike had resulted in a loss of production of 350 cars, after which production started crawling back to normalcy.

A worker at the plant informed that they have reported to work in 'general shift' today and that the plant is manufacturing Taveras now. While there is no official confirmation on the production numbers, the Halol plant is yet to resume normal operations and production continues to remain hit. The plant can produce 190 cars per day in two shifts.

A senior labour department official too confirmed that the GM plant is now producing its utility vehicle Tavera, and around 350 workers had reported to work today. Company officials could not be reached for a comment on the same.

Meanwhile, the state labour department has prohibited the strike, informed a government official, and it is in talks with the INTUC backed labour union that has gone on strike and the company to reach an amicable solution to the impasse. The official, however, admitted that this time around the issue might take longer to resolve. Earlier in October, when the workers had gone on strike demanding higher wages, the labour department had managed to reach a solution more readily and the strike had ended in sharp three days time.

Nihil Mehta, INTUC Gujarat president said, "We have already filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which has, in turn, directed the District Magistrate of Panchmahal district to submit a report within seven days. Also, we have filed a petition with the Gujarat High Court reporting about unfair labour practices. Workers are not only made to work 30 minutes extra per shift every day, but are also denied legitimate allowances and overtime wages. On top of this, the company is also ignoring the potential health hazards related to back pain and spinal cord injuries resulting out of long working hours."

Senior officials in the state labour department noted that workers are divided between whether they should join the INTUC backed union Gujarat Kamdar Mandal's strike, or they should stick to normal working as par the three-year agreement they had signed with the management in December last year. The company signed a wage settlement agreement for three years covering salary increase and productivity related matters with the GM Employees’ Union on 16th December, 2010.

Gujarat Kamdar Mandal is demanding cancellation of all transfers, restoration of old workload levels, and also solution to wage related discrepancies.The Halol facility has an installed capacity to produce 85,000 units per annum. The company manufactures premium hatchback Aveo U-Va, entry-level sedan Aveo, mid-sized sedan Optra, sedan Cruze and multi-utility vehicle Tavera at Halol.