On 16th May, 2019, the labour court in Kancheepuram ordered Hyundai Motors to pay back with interest, the 8 days wage it had withheld from 51 workers since July of 2007. The case relates to an illegal wage cut by Hyundai Motors India against 98 workers, predominantly from the ‘body shop’.
At that time, the company had claimed that these workers engaged in an ‘illegal’ 90 minute strike in June of 2007. As a disciplinary action, the company had cut 8 days wage.
However the workers, who were at that time attempting to set up their first union, Hyundai Motors India Employees Union, claimed that it was an act of victimization. The issue, not being resolved in labour conciliation, went to the labour court in Chennai in 2009. The case was subsequently transferred to the Kachepuram district Labour court in 2018.
The court has declared that the claim of Hyundai motors that the workers were involved in an illegal strike has not been proved. Therefore the 8 day wage cut initiated by the company against the workers is ‘illegal’.
The company has to pay back to the workers the wages lost with interest. The money already been deposited with the court. The workers are awaiting its dispersal.
Only 51 workers had filed the case, with the rest of the 47 unwilling to challenge the company’s actions. The case has taken 12 years to come to a legal conclusion.
However, if the company successfully challenges the order in a higher court, the issue will get further delayed. No penalties have been imposed on the company for imposing illegally withholding the rightful wage. Thus, companies such as Hyundai will dare to break the laws, victimize the workers.
There are very few permanent workers who can pursue such cases over a decade. Even in Hyundai, nearly half of the victimized workers did not pursue the case. If contract workers without trade union protection, were subjected to this treatment, they would hardly be able to challenge the companies.
While the sustained struggle of the Hyundai workers must be greatly appreciated, this incident and the subsequent judgments only establishes the anti worker bias of state institutions.
Note- This article is directly taken from https://tnlabour.in without any edits and verification.