July 22, 2011 marked the100th day of the relay hunger strike of workers of Voltas. To mark this occasion, a meeting was held at the gate of the corporate headquarters of this Tata owned company in Mumbai in which hundreds of workers participated.
The workers of Voltas are resisting the attacks on their livelihood and their union. Voltas has through outsourcing, reduced its all India workforce to just 11,500. Of this, 7,700 are contract workers. Out of the balance of 3,760 workers, the vast majority have been categorized as “management”, to split them from other workers. (See MEL July 16-31, 2011 issue for further details). As a result, this company has only 600 workers in the regular worker category today!
The wages of the workers of the three categories - contract, regular, and management —are extremely disparate. The union is fighting for the regularization of all contract workers, and against the anti labour policies of the owners. They are also fighting for reinstatement of dismissed activists of the Union.
The gate meeting was opened by Comrade Salian, retired Voltas worker and ex leader of the Union. Those who spoke at the meeting included Comrade D.B.Nalge, ex President of Voltas Union, Comrade Vasudevan, leader of Blue Star Employees Union, Comrade Franklin, leader of Hindustan Lever Employees Union, Comrade Bharadwaj, National Vice President of AILRSA , Comrade Milind Ranade of Sarva Shramik Sangh and others.
All the speakers expressed their solidarity with the fighting Voltas workers. The problems faced by the workers of Mumbai Suburban Electric Supply Services Ltd, a Reliance Group Company(Anil Ambani), Tata Tetley tea Garden workers in Bengal, the Loco Running Staff of the Indian Railways, the Maruthi Suzuki workers In Haryana, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, and their struggles were highlighted by different speakers at the meeting. Everywhere, the workers are fighting against increased exploitation, against contractualisation of labour. Everywhere, the workers are recognizing that the unity of workers across industries in an area and in the world as a whole, has to be forged, in order to fight the onslaught of capital It was highlighted that such steps were being taken by workers in many parts of the country.
The leaders of Voltas called upon the workers to take up Mazdoor Ekta Lehar as their own paper and widely disseminate it.