Indefinite hunger strike by workers at Talema Electronics plant in Tamil Naidu, India

The protesting workers have complained that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been used by the administration as a pretext to delay wage revision

August 12, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Workers strike India
(Photo: Newsclick)

Over 100 workers of Talema Electronics in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, India, have been on strike since August 4, demanding wage revision. The workers associated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have asserted that they will not call off their strike until a reasonable wage hike is offered by Talema Electronics, a Swedish company.

According to Srinivasan, president of the CITU union at Talema Electronics, “the previous wage pact expired on February 13, 2020, but the administration took no effort to come up with a new agreement. We submitted a memorandum with our demands on February 22, 2020, yet no efforts were made.”

The protesting workers have complained that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been used by the administration as a pretext to delay wage revision. “The administration took advantage of the lockdown, and deliberately delayed talks and negotiations for one and a half years. We will not accept any more delays, our demands have to be met immediately,” Srinivasan said.

The workers intensified their strike and called for an indefinite hunger strike on August 9. Following this, the administration came up with a proposal for a hike of Rs 750 (USD 3.64) in 2021 and additional Rs 750 from 2023. As per the workers, the management threatened to shut down the production unit if this proposal was not accepted, which would lead to job loss for more than 400 workers.   

Several women workers’ health deteriorated after the hunger strike but the workers have resolved to continue their action.

“From August 9 onwards we called for a full-fledged hunger strike. Although many of the workers couldn’t handle it, they insisted we continued the hunger strike. 17 women workers fainted and were taken to the hospital, one of them was even admitted to the ICU,” said Banumathi, another protester.

“They are treating us like cattle and sucking our labour, we feel cheated. Many of us have been with the company since its early days, now that the company is well-established we are being throttled,” she said, adding, “I started working in Talema in 2004, it is my 17th year and I haven’t faced such treatment by the administration in all these years. We gave all our labor, we did our part, but the management is not doing theirs.”

Faced with the continuing strike action, the company’s management has called for talks with the workers on August 13. 

(With inputs from NewsClick)

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