The workers allege that they have not been paid their provident fund allowance for the past eight months.
Long-term contract employees of Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) limited are protesting against the management after their contracts were terminated without warning yesterday. The workers were part of the ITI union that was formed in 2020.
“We have been working here since 30 years but they told us not to come to work because we are part of the ITI union,” said a woman worker outside the ITI office where the workers have been protesting since yesterday.
The police had put barricades to restrict the workers from going inside the office. They were only given verbal orders to do so, said Hemanth, a worker from the ITI Union.
The workers do most of the core work in the ITI including research and development, production, packing, finance, and lab work, said Maitri, senior trade union leader. “There are only 50-55 workers in the staff, so majority of the core work is done by these contract workers,” she added..
The workers had been working with ITI but later on, several new contractors were brought in and they refused to treat them as permanent workers, even though they do all core work, she added.
Additionally, workers claim that they haven’t been paid their Provident Fund (PF) and Employee State Insurance (ESI) for the last eight months.
Workers have the right to protest and form unions, said Anagha Kulkarni, an advocate. “Legally, contract labourers can form or join trade unions to our forward their demands to the management or the employer,” she said. However, which clauses they have accepted in writing, while entering into a contract needs to be seen, she added.
In fact, the Regional Labour Commissioner had advised the ITI to comply with Section 33 of the Industrial Disputes (ID) Act, 1947 to not change employees’ service conditions during the dispute and those workers to be recognised as permanent.
Hemanth said that authorities have been reluctant to talk. The workers arecalling for relocation of jobs as they were removed without any prior intimation and take back the 250 employees who were removed during the lockdown. “We want the label of contract workers to be removed because we have been working here since so long,” he added.
The workers will continue to protest until their demands are met, said Maitri. “We are not doing anything wrong, we are just fighting for our rights,” she said.