Workers in Uttarakhand, India continue struggle against factory closure

Hundreds of workers have been protesting for eight months against an illegal factory lockout and demanding the restoration of factory operations as well as compensation

January 27, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Zydus workers protest India
(Photo: @Clifroz/Twitter)

For over 220 days, hundreds of workers under the banner of the Zydus Wellness Employees Union have been protesting in Uttarakhand’s Sitarganj against an illegal factory lockout, which has rendered nearly 1,200 without work. 

On January 18, the union organized a torch rally at which scores of protesters raised pro-union slogans and demanded that all the workers fired by the factory should be reinstated and the pending wages the administration still owes to the workers be disbursed.  

After the factory was closed down in June 2022 without any notice, workers have been engaged in a campaign to demand the resumption of operations. As per Counter Currents, they have demanded that “all employees be taken back,” and said that, if the factory is not reopened immediately, sacked workers will have no option but to launch a “mass agitation.”

Zydus Wellness is an Indian consumer goods company and produces popular products such as Glucon-D, Sugar-Free, Complan, and Nycil. The company has said that the factory was closed down as the result of a “manufacturing and supply chain network optimization exercise.” The company claimed, as per News Drum, that “the products manufactured at said manufacturing facility will now be manufactured at other manufacturing locations of the company and its subsidiaries.”

However, several unionists have contested these claims. “The unit closure at Sitarganj is just an excuse to retrench workers to ensure super profit for the company, and such a move is illegal,” KK Bora, secretary of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions Uttarakhand, with which the Zydus Wellness Employees Union is affiliated, has responded

Workers have carried out a series of demonstrations over these eight months to draw attention to how factory management has left hundreds of workers in disarray without offering them any compensational wages or support. 

“Zydus, which is a well known Indian brand is trying to take away the livelihood of workers under the false pretext of losses despite the fact that the company’s Q1 (April-June) net profit increased by 4.75% at INR 137.01 crore for the year 2022,” Bora said.

According to the Zydus Wellness Employees Union, despite the High Court in Nainital and the Sitarganj administration having termed the lockout illegal, Zydus management has refused to reverse the closure of the factory.