Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has planned legal action against workmen at its Haldia factory, where work has stopped since March 2 due to a strike by the Hindustan Unilever Shramik Union.
The company says the strike is unjustified and illegal and termed so by the state government’s additional labour commissioner four days earlier, at a meeting with the union. Around 180 people are directly employed at the factory; the total is 600 if one adds the indirectly employed.
The strike was called after HUL’s decision to transfer six workmen from the Haldia factory to the one at Khalilabad, eastern UP. While two workmen joined at Khalilabad, the union is demanding reversal of the transfer order for the other four.
HUL said its business was under “tremendous pressure due to dynamic changes in market conditions, including stiff competition from several low cost competitors, making products highly price-sensitive. In this market scenario, uninterrupted flow of products is essential for any manufacturing unit to remain competitive”.
“We made up for the volume by producing more at the other factories, but we need a permanent solution. We need to resolve the strike at the Haldia factory for which we would seek legal action if the situation continues,” said a spokesperson.
The company said the terms of employment clearly state the job is transferrable to anywhere in India.
The union went on strike on February 25, temporarily called off the next day. It was then resumed on March 2, even as the additional labour commissioner was looking into the matter, said HUL.
It said the union had assured normalcy from Monday, but this hadn’t happened.