MRF strike enters 14th day, workers and family camp in Chennai

May 22nd, 2009 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, May 22 (IANS) The workers’ strike at tyre major MRF’s Arakonam and Puducherry plants entered its 14th day Friday with no sign of a swift settlement, and workers of the Arakonam unit camping at the labour commissioner’s office here.
Workers at the two units went on strike May 9 in protest against a wage agreement signed by the management with a rival labour union. Production has come to a standstill at both plants.

Following this, the MRF management declared a lockout at the Arakonam unit.

From Friday morning, agitating Arakonam plant workers and their family members - numbering over 1,000 - began camping at the labour commissioner’s office here.

“We have decided to pitch our tents here. We are ready to get arrested and go to jail. In jail, we will go on a fast till a solution is found,” P.V. Paramasivam, president of the striking MRF United Workers Union (UWU) said.

The union shifted its action venue to the state capital after the Arakonam police Wednesday evening hit them with sticks and arrested striking workers at the plant a few hours after the Madras High Court ordered the protesters not to obstruct movement of personnel and materials at the two factories.

The directive followed a petition filed by the company for the removal of the striking workers from the factory premises.

UWU wants the MRF management to hold a secret ballot to ascertain which union has more members and negotiate only with it.

According to it, the management has signed a wage agreement with a rival union that it said did not represent the majority of workers.

Officials at MRF and the labour commissioner’s office were not available for comment.

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