BENGALURU: Workers of ITI Limited, who were protesting outside the premises for five days, are yet to hear from the company. The workers were notified that they had been terminated from service, when they arrived for work on Wednesday morning, and have since been refused entry.
Though the workers were on contract, some had been working with the company for almost 35 years. “They’ve said it’s due to a change in contractor, but there’s no clue as to who the contractor is or how to contact them. Many of the workers have been with the company for decades, all their work is assigned and monitored by the company authorities,” said Maitreyi Krishnan, who is part of the Karnataka General Labour Union (KGLU) and is representing the workers in several cases in the labour court.
The company had earlier been maltreating the workers by not paying pending salaries, Provident Fund or Employee State Insurance. In July 2020, under the excuse of contract termination, they had fired around 400 workers, but handpicked about 150 of the 400 to retain their positions. The workers demanded their back pay, which amounted to almost Rs 1.5 lakh per worker, but the company refused to pay them.
Following this, the workers had come together, forming a union under KGLU, and filing cases against the company. Since then, according to Krishnan, they had been facing harassment. On December 1, union members were singled out and not allowed to enter the premises, while other essential workers were allowed in.
“They had told us they didn’t want workers who were part of unions as we knew everything about laws and regulations,” said Balakrishna R, an operator and installer who had worked for the company for eight years, and a union member.
“Regional Labour Commissioner Antony Sebastian had a meeting with us on the first day, and advised the company not to terminate us. All the cases we had filed are still pending, but they had mentioned multiple times not to terminate us,” said Hemanth Kumar, a quality assurance engineer who was terminated after working for the company for four years. “They’ve done this because we decided to form a union and file a regularisation case, because of this we will prosecute them,” said Kumar.
The commissioner had allegedly warned the company that they were not respecting the orders of both the court and commissioner, and were liable for prosecution. The management said it was ready to face prosecution.Deputy General Manager Murdeshwar told TNIE, “They are not ITI employees, they’re part of the agency which has withdrawn from its contract.”