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Strengthening union power in the Indian Aerospace sector

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25 October, 2019The IndustriALL Global Union aerospace steering committee met Indian aerospace union representatives on a maiden study trip to Delhi on 21 October 2019 and together resolved to increase IndustriALL activities in the sector.

Indian unions and aerospace steering committee members from trade unions in France (FO), Germany (IG Metall) and the UK (Unite and CSEU) discussed key issues in the Indian aerospace industry, challenges facing the South Asia trade union movement and ways to strengthen union power in the aerospace sector.

Professor SN Misra provided an overview of the aerospace industry and argued that the government of India needs to boost resources for research and development in order to increase aerospace manufacturing capacity in the country. 

Aerospace sector union representatives from the Steel Metal and Engineering Workers Federation (SMEFI) and TATA Lockheed Martin Aerostructures stressed the difficulties they have in improving social dialogue and the right to freedom of association in the Indian aerospace sector.

The committee heard about the recent strike by 20,000 HAL employees, which was spearheaded by the All India Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Trade Unions Coordination Committee (AIHALTUCC). The HAL workers withdrew the strike on 22 October following directions by the Karnataka High Court but continue to pursue their demands for pay rises through negotiations.

Atle Høie, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said:

“The IndustriALL Aerospace Steering Committee expresses solidarity with HAL workers, who are asking for just wage increases. We call upon HAL management and the government of India to earnestly engage in genuine dialogue with AIHALTUCC and address their demands.”

Georg Leutert, IndustriALL director for the automotive and aerospace industries, said:

“The steering committee members decided to explore various cooperative mechanisms, including conducting a study on industrial relations in the Indian aerospace sector, improving coordination and sharing information with Indian unions in order to build international solidarity among aerospace trade unions.”

The Indian aerospace industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in India. It is dominated with manufacturing for defence products, while the commercial aircraft market is growing rapidly. Major players in India include HAL, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and MNCs such as Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Honeywell Aerospace and GE Aviation among many others.