A section of workers of two-wheeler firm Royal Enfield has resorted to strike again on Monday after the management restricted them from carrying mobile phones inside the factory, even as the company reported a production loss of 10,000 units in September due to the strike.
The workers supporting Royal Enfield Employees Union (REEU), an unrecognised union, assembled near the factory from Monday morning, said the union.
The company management did not respond to an email seeking its views on the issue. However, Eicher Motors Ltd, the parent company of Royal Enfield, has informed the exchanges that starting September 24, a section of the workforce at the Oragadam facility near Chennai did not report for work and this has resulted in a loss of production of 10,000 motorcycles in September 2018.
Royal Enfield posted sales of 71,662 motorcycles in the month of September 2018, recording a growth of two per cent over the same period last year.
The latest dispute started on Sunday with the company allegedly restraining workers from carrying their mobile phones into the factory during working hours and asking them to leave the phones with the security officials. On Sunday, around 700 permanent workers abstained from work while the trainees, who were already not allowed to bring mobile phones to work, joined the work.
R Sampath, vice-president of Royal Enfield Employees Union, which is part of Working People Trade Union Council (WPTUC), said that from Monday morning all the permanent workers and trainees abstained from work demanding the management to either allow mobile phones inside the factory, as it has been doing previously, or to provide a safe locker to keep them in privacy.
According to the union, the concerns are that nobody can reach them during the working hours even in case of emergency if the phones are not with them. Besides, the security may look into their phones, which will compromise the workers' privacy.
The company has informed the employees that their salary for the day would be cut for the days they abstain from works. It can also resort to cutting eight days' salary from the workers if they engage in strike illegally and it has deducted the same from the protesting employees for September, alleged the union. On Monday, around 700 permanent workers and around 800 trainees abstained from work, said Sampath.
The other two factories of Royal Enfield, one at Thiruvottiyur and another at Vallam, near the Oragadam factory, are working, they added.
The protesters are now sitting infront of the factory, by obeying the restriction from the Madras High Court that the protests should be 100 metres away from the factory premises and should not restrain those who are ready to work. The union has said that the production on Monday would have been affected since only around 150 workers were engaged in production in the factory.
REEU had earlier called for a strike on September 24, demanding the management reinstate around 120 probationary employees and one permanent employee to their job and provide bonus, which is pending from 2015. The union claimed that if the production in the Oragadam factory is completely stopped, it would affect over 750 units of vehicles a day. It later called off the strike on Thursday and workers went back to report for work on Friday, though the management declared a holiday, they said.
Meanwhile, the strike at the factories of India Yamaha Motor Pvt Ltd and Myoung Shin Automotive India Pvt Ltd (MSI), a supplier of Hyundai, in the automobile manufacturing hub of Sriperumbudur continued as talks between the companies' management, workers' unions and the labour department officials were not conclusive last week, said sources from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).