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Tata Motors strike: Workers may ask Kanhaiya, Hardik Patel for support

As the striking workers at Tata Motors' Sanand plant garner the support of 22 trade unions in the state, things seem to be taking new turns. Leaders of these trade unions threaten a civil disobedience movement of sorts to restore the democratic rights of all industrial workers in Gujarat.

Speaking at a press conference here today Ashim Roy, vice president, National Trade Union Initiative and advisor to the striking workers at Tata Motors said, "The company has taken punitive action against the 26 workers who had gone to question the suspension of the two workers at site. Also, the intention is to not let them form a labour union at the plant."

He went further to note that this is basically violation of the workers' democratic rights to form an union and raise their voices. In all around 22 trade unions including All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress(INTUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have extended support to this 'struggle' and as Roy said the idea is to 'build a statewide movement for democratic rights and expose the extreme victimisation of labour and farmers in the so-called Gujarat Model of Development'. There is a tendency today to call anyone who questions the system, an anti national, said the trade union leaders. They are planning to invite popular faces of dissent like JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar and Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel to extend their support to the Nano workers.

The Ahmedabad district Collector had tried to mediate between the workers and the management on Friday, and asked the striking workers to resume work.

The workers held a secret ballot today in which out of 354 people who voted, 353 voted in favour of continuing the strike. And around 50 workers who could not be present for the voting showed their support via SMS.

As far as future course of action is concerned, the workers along with trade union members would stage a demonstration in front of the Collector's office on Monday and subsequently, follow it up with a demonstration at the  Sanand industrial estate.

Roy claimed that they would escalate the battle to whatever extent necessary. "If needed, we would go to Argentina to convince Lionel Messi to not endorse the Tata Motors brand," he said adding that Tata Group is a part of the United Nations Global Compact, an UN  initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. Hence, the company cannot resort to any unlawful activity.

Roy even threatened that if need be they would shut down the company's showrooms in Gujarat as a protest movement. Plans are afoot to move the Gujarat High Court to question the state government's move to declare the strike illegal.

The striking workers, however,seemed willing to join back only if the suspension were revoked. "We are willing to join from tomorrow if they withdraw the suspension. We are open to a neutral enquiry, and would accept the outcome. We are also open to give an undertaking that no untoward incident would happen at the site during the tenure of the enquiry," said Hitesh Rabari, a striking worker.

Amrish Patel, secretary Gujarat Majdoor Sabha and also vice president of Trade Union Center of India who is an advisor to the Tata Marcopolo workers' union at Dharwad, claimed, "Apart from Sanand and Dharwad, protests are taking place at Tata Motor's Pantnagar plant as well with regards to unionisation."