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Automotive unions in India resolve to strengthen union network and combat precarious work

15 September, 2016IndustriALL affiliates and other automotive unions from Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune regions came together at the workshop of Automotive and Rubber Unions in India on 13-15 September 2016 at Pune and resolved to strengthen union power.

Trade union representatives from Indian subsidiaries of automotive and tyre manufacturing companies such as Ford, BMW, Renault Nissan, Daimler, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Skoda, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, General Motors, Volvo, Bajaj Auto, JK Tyres, Goodyear, CEAT and Birla Tyres participated in the two day workshop organized by IndustriALL Global Union at Pune and discussed strategies to improve coordination between unions and to combat and win equal rights for precarious workers.

Deliberations at the workshop highlighted major challenges faced by automotive workers, including obstacles to exercising the right to freedom of association, lack of access to corporate information for effective collective bargaining, rampant precarious work and inadequate space for social dialogue in the automotive sector in India.

Representatives from Ford International Network, Volkswagen and BMW Global Works Council and Confederation Japan Automobile Workers’ Union took part in the event and shared union strategies in collective bargaining and social dialogue practices in respective multinational corporations. They underlined that precarious work around the world is a major challenge and collective union action is fundamental to build equitable society.

Management representatives from Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Skoda auto made presentations and interacted with union representatives on the prevailing scenario of social dialogue in their companies and had a frank discussion of challenges and opportunities for effective cooperation between unions and management.

Helmut Lense, director for the Automotive and Rubber sector explained IndustriALL‘s initiatives in forming union networks and global framework agreements and said:

“Indian unions need to strengthen the coordination and network among unions to bolster union power and win equal rights for precarious workers. IndustriALL will always march forward along with unions in India to secure space for genuine social dialogue.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, underlined the need for a coordinated effort from unions to win workers’ rights, especially for precarious workers and women workers in the original equipment manufacturing units and in vendor companies. Pointing out the negligible presence of women in the automotive sector, she urged automakers in India to provide equal preference in recruitment of women workers, and unions to proactively address issues faced by women workers and to ensure leadership of women in union structures.

Automotive unions from Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune regions decided to strengthen union networks towards protecting the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, resist precarious work at respective manufacturing plants, together resist victimization of workers and extend support to victims of unfair labour practices. Unions from Chennai automotive companies decided to form a network and hold periodical interactions to share information towards coordinated actions to protect workers rights.                                           

All participating union representatives also visited the Volkswagen plant at Chakan in Pune and interacted with executives and workers on social dialogue practices in the factory.