Bengaluru: ITI lays off 80+ staff after unionising efforts


A few of these staff have been despatched to put in and keep defence gear at a number of areas throughout the nation together with worldwide borders.

For 10 days, 34-year-old Famidha has been sitting in protest exterior the Indian Phone Industries Restricted (ITI) unit in Bengaluru, the place she has been working for the final decade. On December 1, Famidha and plenty of of her colleagues have been sacked with out discover. “Like some other day we had come to work, however we have been stopped on the gates,” she advised TNM.

Famidha and her colleagues allege that they’re being “punished” for collectivising and demanding pay for the interval of the lockdown. “Solely these of us who joined the union to demand our fee dues haven’t been allowed to affix work. However the remaining folks, round 40, have been allowed to work,” Famidha added. Round 80 staff who have been working as subcontractors, some for 3 many years, have now been retrenched. Firm officers informally advised the employees that their contractor’s time period had ended.

ITI is a public sector firm underneath the Ministry of Communication with models throughout the nation. The unit in Bengaluru’s KR Puram makes telecommunication instruments, together with navy communication gear deployed in border areas. In the course of the pandemic, staff additionally manufactured ventilators to satisfy the surge in demand.

Hemanth Kumar R, one other employee who has been protesting, had joined the unit in 2016. He stated, “A few of us have been working right here for 35 years. All of a sudden they’ve thrown us out saying that we not have jobs. With none intimation, they put barricades in entrance of the gate and we have been advised by the safety employees that we not have our jobs.” Hemanth is now one of many leaders of the protest and the president of the Karnataka Normal Labour Union (KGLU), affiliated to the All India Central Council of Commerce Unions (AICCTU). Employees like Hemanth and Famidha should be paid over Rs 1 lakh, together with arrears.

The labour union contends that the system of involving a contractor is a sham because it undermines the employees who’ve been with the corporate for a few years performing core features. They allege that the system is put in place to disclaim staff their rightful employment situations.

Begin of the dispute

Pressure between the employees and the ITI administration started in June 2020 when the employees have been advised that they wouldn’t be paid their salaries for the primary lockdown. When the employees approached the officers, they have been requested to strategy the courts for redressal.

“That is the foundation of the issue. We shaped the Karnataka Normal Labour Union and pursued litigation in opposition to the corporate, demanding two months of pay, eight months of Provident Fund and staff’ state insurance coverage, 5 months of extra time and 10 months of wage arrears that the employees are due. The case remains to be pending within the labour court docket,” Hemanth stated.

The employees additionally highlighted that their retrenchment is in violation of the directions handed by the Regional Labour Commissioner. Employees like Hemanth and Famidha have now been advised that they will seem for an interview with the brand new contractor for human sources. They are going to be reinstated if the contractors discover them passable. However the protesters are sturdy of their resolve to contest the termination of employment by the general public sector firm that they imagine goes in opposition to current labour legal guidelines.

“Now the administration is telling us {that a} new contractor referred to as Sai Communication has been roped in and we now have to look for interviews once more. We have now already been working right here for years. How is it honest that we now have to look for interviews for jobs that we now have been doing?” Hemanth requested.

Till 2020, staff like Hemanth have been engaged on contract foundation underneath two cooperative societies run by former ITI staff. Then in June 2020, Pooja Safety Providers, a brand new contractor, got here in place to exchange the cooperative society they usually began working underneath them. “They don’t do any work, they’re there for namesake and earn fee from the administration,” Hemanth claimed.

On the time, round 400 staff, together with firefighters and janitorial employees for visitor homes, have been advised that they might be faraway from their jobs. Whereas the janitorial staff and firefighters have been reinstated by the administration, the 120-odd staff, together with those that unionised, weren’t instantly taken again. It was solely after intervention by native MLA Byrathi Basavaraj that they have been reinstated.

Hemanth stated that for the reason that staff have been working with ITI for a few years, they’re eligible for regularisation and can’t be handled as contract staff. Even the Regional Labour Commissioner too in dispute redressal conferences held in September-November 2021 suggested the ITI administration to not terminate the employees till the dispute was resolved. Part 33 of the Industrial Dispute Act imposes prohibition on the employer from altering the phrases of service of its workmen to their prejudice or terminating their companies throughout any pending proceedings, together with conciliation proceedings, with respect to any industrial dispute.

AICCTU writes to Union Minister

The AICCTU has now written to Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Minister for Communications, Electronics & Data Know-how and Railways, relating to the termination of the employees by ITI. The letter stated that many of those terminated staff have labored in protection initiatives throughout the nation, in harsh climate and in border areas. It cited labour legal guidelines and contended that the termination of the employees is against the law, particularly in gentle of the recommendation of the Regional Labour Commissioner. It additionally cited Part 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act which protects staff from any alteration of employment situations throughout pending proceedings.

The letter highlighted that ITI being a public sector endeavor must act as a mannequin employer and recognise the act of unionisation and different basic rights. “The actions of the administration of the Bengaluru plant of M/s ITI Ltd is against the law and an unfair labour apply prohibited and punishable underneath regulation. By throwing staff to the streets, M/s ITI Ltd is pushing their households to the streets, together with their kids (sic),” the union added.

Regardless of a number of makes an attempt, TNM couldn’t attain senior managerial employees of ITI.


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