In a reminder of the July 21 workers’ protest at the Maruti Suzuki unit in Manesar, Nitin Kale, a worker from Everest Industries Limited in Nashik, allegedly stabbed three officers outside the assistant labour commissioner’s office on August 24. While the injured officers are recuperating, the incident has put labour unions and industry owners at loggerheads.
One hundred and thirty-four permanent employees of the company were on strike for the last 10 months, demanding an increment. It was alleged that the company was trying to cancel their dearness allowance, an allegation which the company has refuted.
The labour union leader, Dr DL Karad, along with five others, was arrested for instigating the attacker. The workers from the Nashik industrial belt went on a two-day strike against the arrest, calling it unjustified.
When Hindustan Times visited Nashik’s industrial areas such as Satpur and Ambad, members of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), one of the biggest worker unions in Nashik of which Kale was a member, alleged that the owners are violating workers’ rights by bringing in contract labour.
Sitaram Thombre, general secretary, CITU’s Nashik district committee, said, “We are protesting [for workers’ rights] and will continue to do so in the future.” The delegation comprising representatives of CITU, the company and government officials met home minister RR Patil on Wednesday. Patil assured them that a decision on workers’ demands would be taken after taking both sides of the issue into account.
“Any attempt to disturb the peace in the industrial sector by violating law and order will not be tolerated,” added Patil.
The incident is being seen as an indication of the growing discontent among the workers and the owners in Nashik, the state’s biggest industrial cluster outside the Mumbai-Pune belt.
A few months ago, an officer of Sanjyot industries was beaten up, allegedly by workers.
While 170 workers who were thrown out of Tryambak Rubber company in 1989 are still awaiting reinstatement, the Crown company was closed, leaving 200 workers unemployed, despite a labour officer’s ruling suggesting otherwise.