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Rieter India workers on strike

30 January, 2023Over 350 workers at Rieter India Ltd. have been on strike since 21 January, after management refused to address the union’s concerns about unfair labour practices.

Rieter India Employees Federation (RIEF), a member of Shramik Ekta Manhasangh, an IndustriALL affiliate, has been repeatedly raising concerns about the company’s unfair labour practices such as employing a large number of contract workers without proper training in perennial jobs, thereby undermining the safety of all the workers. Rieter India is a Swiss company subsidiary which manufactures textile machinery.

The union filed a complaint with the labour department regarding the unlawful employment of contract workers which directed an inspection of the company. Since then, management has been threatening the union’s office bearers with suspension, transfer, and termination if the union does not withdraw the cases. In an attempt to weaken the union, seven union leaders, including the general secretary and the president, were transferred, under the pretence of training, to different far-off places.

Management continues to harass workers, threatening to revoke the wage raise which was granted after the union filed a complaint in court regarding the same issue. Management has been demanding an increase in productivity without conducting scientific research or making any improvements to the production process to increase production.

Additionally, Rieter India has refused to recognise RIEF, which the union has challenged in court and the case is pending.

The management has refuted all charges made by the union and workers by mis-stating and misinterpreting the law applicable to unions in India. Though the union has followed all legal provisions, the management has issued advertisements to hire contract workers, in place of the striking permanent workers, which is an illegal act. 

Dilip Pawar, president of Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, says:

“Rieter India's board chairman wrote to us stating that the company is not aware of any unfair labour practice and that local management has the authority and their full support to prevent any strike action by the union which they don’t recognise, and that union members will be fully responsible for tarnishing company’s reputation. This is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it.”

Atle Høie, general secretary of IndustriALL says:

“IndustriALL Global Union expresses solidarity with the workers at Rieter India Ltd. We will continue to support the Rieter India Employees Federation in the struggle towards obtaining union recognition, and decent health and safety conditions in the workplace.”