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Rieter India workers on strike for a third time

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27 May, 2024Members of Rieter India Employees’ Federation (RIEF) have been on strike for nearly sixty days. For over a year, the union has repeatedly raised concerns about the company’s unfair labour practices, like employing a large number of contract workers without proper training for permanent jobs, undermining the safety of all the workers.

In January 2023, the union went on strike after management refused to address the union’s concerns. A complaint with the labour department on the unlawful employment of contract workers which led to an inspection of the company, was filed. 

Since then, management has been threatening union officials with suspension, transfers and termination if the cases are not withdrawn. 30 members were suspended after being implicated in false charges by the management, like provoking contract workers against the management and threatening them. In addition, 24 workers were sent to various far-off locations under the pretence of training purposes.

In July the same year workers went on strike again, opposing management’s union busting actions. As soon as the strike notice was issued, twelve workers, including office bearers, were abruptly dismissed. RIEF called the strike off after 57 days when the labour commissioner told management to recall the 24 employees and to conciliate the matter with the twelve terminated workers.

However, months later, the situation has yet to improve and workers have been forced to again resort to strike action. 33 of the 350 union members have been terminated, including the office bearers, while 27 workers remain suspended pending an inquiry against alleged rallying outside management official’s house.

In addition, Rieter India management has filed cases against union members in a civil court for holding a hunger strike outside the factory gate in July last year and for allegedly causing a US$1.2 million loss during the first strike in January last year.

Management is now offering voluntary retirement schemes to union members.

“Rieter India management is out to destroy the union. We have asked several times to cordially resolve the issues, but management is not engaging,”

says Rohit Pawar, general secretary of Shramik Ekta Mahasangh.

Ashutosh Bhattacharya, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, says:

“IndustriALL expresses solidarity with the striking workers at Rieter. This anti-union behaviour is unacceptable. We call on management to immediately end the unfair labour practices, and urge management to initiate a dialogue with the unions and workers in a constructive and good faith manner.”