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GM workers in India win interim relief in retrenchment case

13 January, 2022After a seven-month legal battle, General Motors (GM) workers in India were granted interim relief by the Maharashtra Industrial Court on 5 January, when the court held that the retrenchment of workers was unfair labour practice.

In July last year, GM illegally laid off 1,086 workers at its Talegaon plant near Pune, after workers refused to accept a voluntary separation scheme and meagre compensation as a final settlement, unilaterally decided by management.

The union, General Motors Employees Union, affiliated to IndustriALL affiliate Shramik Ekta Mahasangh (SEM), filed a complaint with the Industrial Court for unlawful retrenchment and challenged that the scheme was forced upon the workers.

On 5 January, the court ruled in favour of the union and directed GM to pay 50 per cent of the wages to all 1,086 workers unlawfully retrenched, effective from 1 April and until the complaint is resolved.

Dilip Pawar, president of Shramik Ekta Mahasangh union, said:

“The battle is not yet over and we will continue this fight on the ground and in court. It has become a trend with multinational companies to tread over workers’ rights in India. This victory shows that workers will put up a fight, and in unity we will emerge victorious.”

GM management has been looking for buyers for the 300 acre land where the factory operated, as well as the machinery. General Motors Employees Union had requested a stay on the sale of assets, as it would lead to difficulties in obtaining workers’ dues. However, the Industrial Court declined to intervene in the matter as a related case is pending before the High Court.

“IndustriALL welcomes this court order. We will continue to stand with the workers struggling against the violation of their rights,”

says Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL regional secretary.