Union gains as Hyundai India strike ends

Reposted from www.imfmetal.org

INDIA: Indian autoworkers at Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) and members of the Hyundai Motor India Employees' Union (HMIEU) ended their work stoppage and hunger strike after management agreed to a number of worker demands, mediated by the Tamil Nadu District Commissioner of Labor.

More than 1300 workers went on indefinite strike April 20 with demands on wages, working conditions and a halt to labour rights abuses, including the company's refusal to recognize HMIEU and collectively bargain. The company has a pattern of victimizing union leaders and supporters and has attempted to sidestep the union through a company-appointed Works Committee.

The struggle intensified on May 6 when 900 strikers were arrested. Affiliates of the International Metalworkers' Federation have protested Hyundai Motor India's awful treatment of its workers, prompting letters of outrage as well as meetings and demonstrations at Hyundai's headquarters in Korea.

Among the gains the strike achieved, Hyundai Motor India agreed to:

* allow workers arrested during participation in the strike to return to work, * not enter a settlement with the Works Committee before May 20, * reply to each point of the Charter of Demands put forward by the HMIEU, and * not victimize workers who participated in the strike, including withdrawing disciplinary suspension of 20 workers who had been involved in organizing the strike.

HMIEU and the company will enter into bargaining under the auspices of the District Commissioner of Labor as soon as the May 13 elections are over.

Still unresolved is the issue of reinstatement for 72 workers who have faced unfair dismissals, suspensions and involuntary transfers because of their union activities. They were not directly associated with the recent strike.

A large number of those supporting the strike were precarious workers who make up the majority of the workforce at the Hyundai operations in Chennai. Their fate has yet to be decided. Equal treatment of all workers and the rehiring of precarious workers dismissed prior to the strike are among key issues in the HMIEU's Charter of Demands.

Following news of the strike's successes, major media ran articles with a claim by Hyundai Motor India that some production from Chennai would shift to Europe due to the industrial action. According to the Korean Metal Workers' Union, no such investment decision has been made.