Striking workers at Tata Motors threaten state-wide stir

The strike by a section of workers at Tata Motors' Sanand plant in Gujarat continued for the 24th day today, with the protestors threatening to launch a state-wide agitation.

Over two dozen trade union bodies, including the All India Trade Union Congress, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha and New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), are backing them, the workers said.

They also claimed that the government was using the police to subdue the workers rather than attempting mediation through labour department officials.

"The state labour department has been rendered dysfunctional because of vacancies. In their place, the collector and police are being used to subdue the workers," NTUI member Ashwin Roy said.

"Police are not allowing workers to hold demonstration peacefully and the state government is misusing the Industrial Disputes Act to suppress the agitation. After Monday's demonstration in front of Collector's office, we will launch the agitation at the state level," Roy said.

District Collector Rajkumar Beniwal is trying to mediate between the company and the workers.

In a statement today, Tata Motors said the company recognised and respected the workers' right to form a union.

"All workmen other than those suspended on charges of indiscipline should resume duty. We continue to engage in discussions with workmen within legal framework," it said.

Some 420 workers at the plant went on strike last month to protest suspension of their colleagues. The Gujarat government has declared the strike illegal.

The company first suspended two workers for indiscipline, and later another 26 workers for allegedly damaging new vehicles at the plant, which manufactures the Nano car, during their protest.