Tata Motors Sanand strike: Workers' union recognised

In what can be called an initial step in mitigating the workers' agitation at Tata Motors Sanand factory, the workers' union named Bharatiya Kamdar Ekta Sangh Sanand (BKSS) was registered today. The state labour department has recognised the union, which has about 450 members from the Sanand plant.

Assistant labour commissioner of Ahmedabad M S Patel confirmed the development. At present, the union does not have any outside representation from any trade union or otherwise. 

Hitesh Rabari, a permanent worker at Tata Motors and one of the labour leaders is the president of the newly formed  BKSS and Umesh Rathod, another worker, is the secretary. 

Rabari sounded happy that the union was approved by the labour department, but added that the strike would continue until the company decided to take back the suspended workers. "We are open to an enquiry. But, we want the company to take back the 28 suspended workers during the enquiry, or else our strike continues," he said. 

A meeting is scheduled between labour department officials, Tata Motors officials and the worker representatives at the labour commissioner's office on Friday. Patel was hopeful that a resolution to the current deadlock could be achieved in the meeting. He further added that a few resolution formulae were suggested to the company and the workers (which he did not wish to share), and Friday's meeting would tell if the strike could be called off. 

As such trade unions (around 22 trade unions came out in support of the Tata Motors workers) along with farmer associations and workers were planning to stage a protest at the Sanand industrial estate on Saturday. 

Rabari said that if a resolution was reached on Friday, they would immediately join back work and call off the protest. 

A Tata Motors spokesperson said, "We have always maintained we respect the right of the workers to form a union. We believe it will help both parties engage and resolve matters amicably. But we have currently not received any communication about the registration of a union for our Sanand plant."

The company also added, "We welcome the initiative by Deputy Commissioner of Labour to mediate between the workmen representatives and management. We look forward to open and mutually beneficial discussion in this meeting and hope the workmen representatives will join this meeting with heightened responsibility towards all workmen and resume duty at the earliest."