Workers, family members arrested as MRF strike enters 15th day

May 23rd, 2009 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, May 23 (IANS) Striking workers at tyre major MRF’s Arakonam plant and their family members, who were camping outside the labour commissioner’s office here, were arrested Saturday morning, a union official said.
“The police arrested nearly 3,000 workers and family members and kept them in a community centre. We haven’t heard anything from the labour commissioner’s office till now,” D. Christopher, general secretary of MRF United Workers Union (UWU), told IANS.

“The Vellore collector has orally called us for a meeting Monday. We haven’t received anything in writing,” he added.

The worker’s strike at MRF’s Arakonam and Puducherry plants entered its 15th day Saturday with no sign of swift settlement.

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 began camping at the labour commissioner’s office here.

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.

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