In the last week of February 2012 workers of telecom equipments manufacturing unit of Nokia Siemens Networks India, located at Oragadam Special Economic Zone (SEZ), formed a union Nokia-Siemens Networks India Workers’ Union (NSNIU) and affiliated it with Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Since the formation of trade union in February 2012, vindictive and anti-union actions by the management forced about 250 regular workers, including about 60 women workers to resort to strike actions in March, April and now from 22 August 2012. The management has been ignoring advisories issued by labour department officials and continued to victimize union office bearers and intimidating union members.
Even though the union submitted a charter of demands in February 2012 and called for negotiation on a wage increase and other issues, the management has not engaged in the negotiation with good faith. In the meantime the management suspended 18 workers. Even after the advisory issued by the assistant commissioner of labour on 30 April to reinstate the workers after an inquiry, the management has not made any efforts to conduct an inquiry or to reinstate workers until now. While the negotiation on wage revision was in the process, the management has unilaterally announced a wage increase on 11 July. Workers were intimidated in many ways to accept the unilateral wage revisions. Workers were also continued to be coerced to dissolve the trade union or resign from union membership.
On 28 September 2012 a meeting was held with the Labour Minister of Tamil Nadu, Joint Labour Commissioner, Management and the President of the union and office bearers. The outcome of the meeting is that:
- before 8 October 2012 the management must discuss with union officials and reinstate the 18 suspended workers,
- No revenge action to be taken, and
- From 1 October onwards the management will discuss with the union office bearers and conclude the wage agreement.
The management said that on 12 October 2012, the company CEO is coming from Finland, after that the issue will be discussed and finalized.
In this backdrop, over 250 workers have been on strike since 22 August 2012 demanding trade union rights including union recognition and right to collective bargaining, immediate reinstatement of 18 workers, negotiations in good faith on wage revisions and an end to vindictive and anti-union activities.
E Muthukumar, president of the Nokia-Siemens Networks India Workers’ Union said “management’s intransigent attitude and lack of respect for advisories issued by the government officials is harming the industrial peace” and called on the management to respect trade union rights and engage in negotiations to find an amicable solution.