A quick round up of some of the strikes which have taken place (or are being planned) around India in the past couple of weeks.
Volvo bus factory strike ends
The two-week long strike at Volvo Bus factory in Hoskote near Bangalore has ended with both the management and union coming to a mutual agreement on wage revision. Nearly 400 workers who were on strike have returned to work from August 16th and normal bus production has been restored.
An official spokesperson for Volvo Buses India Pvt Ltd, an Indian subsidiary of Swedish bus maker, Volvo Bus Corporation, said the management has agreed to revise salaries of workers with retrospective effect from April 1st for the last three years. He declined, however, to reveal the details of the rise in compensation for the workers.
However, the management has not agreed to reinstate four suspended workers, who are facing enquiry. “The workers’ union has agreed to return to work pending enquiry against them. The suspension is linked to “an act of misconduct, which is grave in nature. Once the enquiry is over, suitable action will be initiated,” the spokesperson said.
Over 400 employees at Volvo Buses went on strike from July 28th, demanding confirmation of temporary employees and reinstatement of four suspended workers in April this year in addition to a wage hike. This was the first ever strike at Volvo’s bus plant in India.
Strike at Allahabad University, Uttar Pradesh
Agitated over the insult of a colleague at the hands of a deputy registrar, the class IV and III employees of various sections of Allahabad University went on strike on Thursday 19th August.
However, after intervention by the officiating V-C and the assurance of the deputy registrar that he would withdraw his words, the employees have decided to return to work from Friday.
A class III employee, working at the establishment section, was allegedly insulted by a deputy registrar on Wednesday. The employee met the office-bearers of the union. Thereafter all the three workers' unions decided to go on strike from Thursday.
The routine functioning at various departments was adversely affected.
Strikes planned at Kolkata airport
Flying into and out of Kolkata airport could become difficult next month with the Communist Party-affiliated labour union Citu threatening mass agitation if contract workers lose jobs in the new set-up. Following a civil aviation ministry decision, a single ground-handling agency has been appointed at Kolkata airport, sparking fears among the 1,500-plus contractual workers that they will be unceremoniously thrown out.
The contract workers are engaged by both private airlines and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for loading luggage, clearing the aircraft cabin, handling cargo, operating aerobridge and tubewells and maintaining electrical systems. NSCBI Airport Ground Workmen's Union has issued a notice to AAI officials to go on strike on September 15th. Bhadra International, a Delhi-based agency, has won the contract for handling all ground operations at Kolkata and Chennai airports from October.
"We had sent a letter to Bhadra International, seeking an assurance that contractual workers who are currently employed by private carriers and AAI will be employed by them. But they have not responded. Hence the strike call. We hope good sense will prevail and so many jobs will not be jeopardized. Or else, we will have to take a tough stand," NSCBI Airport Ground Workmen's Union general secretary Swapan Gupta said.
While AAI as well as the private carriers are putting up a brave face, they privately acknowledge that the strike call could lead to disruption in services. "Most of the ground-handling activities are carried out by contractual staff. If they go on strike, it will be tough to maintain regular operations," a senior official of a private carrier conceded.
Though the strike call is for September 15, the effect is already being felt with contract staff on tenterhooks and union leaders meeting them frequently to chalk out strategy. "As days pass, the situation will become worse because there is an air of uncertainty among those working at the airport. It is but natural when there is a guillotine hanging over your head," an airline official said. Others fear that the general strike on September 7th by Citu could actually trigger off a week-long agitation by contractual workers to force their demands through.