Torrent Pharmaceutical workers face repression for unionizing in Himachal Pradesh

The management forced workers to resign from the union, and victimized union office bearers and workers through unilateral transfers and suspensions.

May 30, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Himachal Pradesh Torrent Workers

Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company Torrent Pharmaceutical took vengeful actions against the workers at its Baddi plant in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh for unionizing. The 600 workers at the plant joined the Association of Chemical Workers Union, which is affiliated with the central trade union, in October 2018. They demanded that Torrent recognize the union and initiate the collective bargaining process. The management responded by forcing workers to resign from the union, as well as victimizing union office bearers and workers through unilateral transfers and suspensions.

The union members gathered in front of the factory gate on February 14 to condemn the management’s actions by raising the union flag and installing a union signboard. They were brutally attacked by unidentified persons. Almost 20 workers who sustained injuries had to be rushed to a hospital. The workers went to the nearest police station to file a complaint against the “hired goons”. The police initially declined to register their complaint, but filed a formal complaint after persistent efforts. The next day, the company unjustly terminated 15 workers and suspended four others, including union office bearers.

“It is shocking that Torrent Pharma workers face such a vindictive and violent response when they exercise the universally accepted core labor rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining,” general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, Valter Sanches, said in a statement.

The union has been writing letters to the Torrent management to reinstall its members and to recognize the union but it has not received any response from them.

“We strongly condemn the unfair labor practices of Torrent Pharmaceuticals. Torrent should reinstate all unjustly terminated and suspended workers, recognize the union and start collective bargaining negotiations,” Sanches said.

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