On 14 August 2018, more than 1000 workers and youth from all over Tamil Nadu assembled in front of the Madras High court and proceeded towards Legislative Assembly demanding protection to non-permanent workers by framing rules for the recently amended state Standing Order Act which will restrict the proportion of non – permanent worker to that of permanent worker. They also demanded that Pricol be taken over by the government given the continued repression of the workers by the Pricol management in Coimbatore.
It was a long-drawn struggle of AICCTU to bring amendment to Tamil Nadu’s standing orders act. The Amendment was brought into force way back in 2016, however, the state government is yet to formulate rules, effectively stalling the amendment. AICCTU and RYA took out a campaign among non- permanent workers of various nomenclature in the automobile hub of Chennai and all over Tamil Nadu. AIARLA also mobilised rural poor from different parts of the state.
Denying of permission of any protest by the administration has become a new normal in Tamil Nadu, hence no permission was applied for this protest. A large police force was deployed as the activists began to assemble and all were arrested as soon as the march began. The protest was addressed by Comrade S Kumarasami, National President of AICCTU, AS Kumar, state President of AICCTU and Bharathi, National secretary of RYA. Comrade Kumarasami in his address said that the protest is a warning to the state government which is only interested in looting the natural resources of the state. He exposed BJP government’s own failure by quoting Nitin Gadkari’s statement that people should not ask for reservations as there are no jobs. Workers and youth from Chennai, Kanjipuram, Thiruvellore, Coimbatore, Namakkal, Salem, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Karur, Nellai, Kanyakumari, Dindigul and Dharmapuri participated. Red flags and Placards made the rally colourful. Participants demanded resignation of Palaniswami Government for its utter failure in all fronts.
Pricol workers observed a day’s strike on the same day demanding an end to victimization and the continuation of anti-labour policies. They also demanded immediate initiation of negotiations with AICCTU. Large number of Pricol workers participated in the strike held out a big rally. Another group of workers along with their family members sat on Hunger strike at Coimbatore.
Intensifying their fight against victimisation by the management the workers of Pricol in Coimbatore went on an indefinite strike from 21 August with their demands of (i) secret ballot to determine the majority Union, (ii) to initiate LTS which is pending from 01.07.2018, and (iii) withdrawal of all punitive measures including the partial lock out of 143 workers who were victimised for taking part in a protest against farmers’ land grab by Chennai-Salem Green Express-way Corridor.