CHENNAI: The head honcho of a Korean firm was booked on Saturday on charges of assaulting a worker, a day after he allegedly dragged one of the company’s employees by his legs. The incident, a video of which was uploaded by the workers on YouTube, worsened the worker-management conflict in the Sriperumbudur industrial belt, which is already hit by the recent closure of Nokia’s cell phone-making plant.
The incident took place on Friday around 7.45 am on the premises of NVH India Auto, located at Irungattukottai when a group of workers were protesting against the suspension of 15 workers. They tried to block the car of managing director Choise Yoon Sik, a Korean national. Sik was caught on camera dragging one of the workers sitting before the car, apparently to make way, and shouting at others.
While the worker, identified by police as K Boopalan, lay on the ground without confronting the official, Sik could be heard asking the workers why they were protesting. “All workers tell me why do you do this? What is the reason? What is the reason… Move,” Sik said.
The workers told Express they were merely staging a protest, when the official behaved in an unruly manner. However, the sequence of incidents prior to this was not very clear. NVH officials did not to comment on the incident and the workers’ protest when contacted by Express.
“Fifteen permanent employees were suspended following our demand to put permanent employees on the production line and not contracted workers or apprentices. We were protesting against this when the official manhandled one of the workers,” said Christopher, an employee of the factory and State-level secretary of United Labour Front, a trade union.
The alleged manhandling led to a stronger protest by the workers of the factory and by various unions on Friday and Saturday. Around 97 workers staging a sit-in overnight were arrested by the police in the wee hours of Saturday and booked for unlawful assembly. While all 97 were released on bail later, 28 other union members, who had launched a hunger fast demanding the arrest of the Sik, were remanded in judicial custody.
Meanwhile, the Sriperumbudur police said they have booked Sik on charges of assault, wrongful restrain and criminal intimidation. “We have registered the case based on the complaint. Further enquiries are on,” said a senior police officer of the Kancheepuram police. The police said they have not arrested Sik.
“The police have not taken any action till now against the official even though we showed them evidence of his behaviour,” Christopher told Express. Cases have been registered against a few union members for preventing those who came to deliver items to the factory.
NVH India Auto is a subsidiary of Korean components company, NVH Auto, which supplies sun visors, head liners, floor carpets and other products to Hyundai’s plant located in the same industrial belt. The company currently has 120 confirmed employees, 500 contact workers and 150 trainees.