BYD Electronics in Chennai resorts to mass dismissals
BYD Electronics, a Nokia supplier-company based in Chennai, India, on November 1 terminated workers en masse, ordered 437 others to sign a letter of apology to keep their jobs and announced an illegal lockout in response to the workers' demands for union recognition and improved conditions. IMF joins with LabourStart in calling on the Tamil Nadu government to ensure these workers' rights are respected.
INDIA: BYD Electronics, a Nokia supplier company located in a Special Economic Zone at Orggadam near Chennai, terminated the services of 2,500 contract workers, sacked 37 permanent workers, suspended 23 more and ordered 437 others to sign a letter of apology to keep their jobs and announced an illegal lock out on November 1.
This grossly unjust act by management against workers that are subjected to appalling working conditions is in response to their demands for union recognition and improved working conditions. It comes after an earlier protest when more than 3,000 workers held a three day sit-in strike from October 28 to 30 at the factory in support of their demands.
The International Metalworkers' Federation is supporting the LabourStart campaign calling for protest emails to be sent to the Indian government authorities on this case and another similar ongoing dispute at Foxconn India located in a neighbouring Nokia special economic zone in Chennai.
To send an email protest letter to the Indian authorities in support of these BYD Electronics and Foxconn workers go to the LabourStart campaign page at: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=814
Protesting against job insecurity and low wages, the workers at BYD Electronics held a meeting on October 9 to form a union, with the help of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). In response management planned to lay-off around 100 workers. On October 21 workers conducted a 24-hour sit-in strike forcing management to talks at the Assistant Commissioner of Labour Office. Talks broke down when on October 27 the management insisted that they will only talk about directly employed workers and not discuss contract workers' issues.
The level of intimidation and threats from management during this dispute resulted in one worker who handed out union leaflets attempting to commit suicide on October 27 by drinking isopropyl alcohol after intense questioning by management. In another case a contract worker was forced by the contract agency to sign a resignation letter, when he refused he was stripped off his uniform and identity card and forced to go out of the factory. The contract agencies also went to the workers' houses and threatened the parents that if their son or daughter continues to engage in union activities, they will be dismissed and a police complaint will be launched against them.
BYD Electronics is one of the major cell phone parts suppliers to Nokia India Private Limited and employs around 3000 workers, of which 850 workers are directly employed by the factory while remaining contract workers are employed through recruitment agencies. These contract workers are laid-off at will without any compensation. Everyday workers have to call their supervisors to find out whether to come to work or not. All workers have to work for 12 hours a day from 8am to 8pm without any compensation for overtime. A worker with four years experience receives the salary of only Rs 5,400 (US $121)
Among others, the union is demanding:
- Recognition of the trade union chosen by the workers;
- Conversion of contract workers who have completed 260 days work in the company to regular workers;
- Compensation and paid leave to the worker who recovering from the suicide attempt and reinstatement of the sacked contract worker;
- A similar uniform for all workers (currently there are 6 colours of uniforms are used for different categories of workers);
- An eight hour working day;
- Basic Salary of:
- 1 year experience Rs 8,000 (US$180)
- 2 years experience Rs 10,000 (US$225)
- 3 years experience Rs 12,000 (US$270)
- 4 years experience Rs 15,000 (US$337)
- Improved medical facilities in the factory; and
- Three months maternity leave with pay.
To send an email protest letter to the Indian authorities in support of the BYD Electronics and Foxconn workers go to the LabourStart campaign here.Nov 02, 2010 – Anita Gardner