Workers Protest Hindustan Motors Management’s Arbitrary ‘Suspension of Work’ in West Bengal

The management of the Hindustan Motors Ltd. (Hindmotor) plant in Uttarpara, that produced the iconic Ambassador car, hung up a ‘suspension of work’ notice on the factory gates in the dawn of 24th May, without any prior intimation to 2400 workers who were driven out of jobs. A CPI(ML) delegation met with the workers the next day. It was learnt that the workers had not been paid salaries for the past 6 months and that the biggest Trade Union, the INTTUC, led by the ruling Trinamool Congress leader Dola Sen had been sitting idle even on such gross violation of workers’s rights like non-payment of salaries! The delegation met with the sole struggling union, the non-party independent Sangrami Sramik Karmachari Union (SSKU) leadership who alleged that the SSKU rank and file have been under intimidation, threats and harassment to prevent a genuine workers’ resistance gather steam at the Hindmotor plant. The Hindmotor-Konnagar local party committee, AICCTU and the Construction Workers’ Union affiliated to AICCTU brought out a joint workers’ rally in the area in solidarity with Hindmotor workers. The rally demanded scrapping of the arbitrary suspension notice, immediate payment of workers’ salary dues and State government taking up the responsibility of lives and livelihoods of the Hindmotor workers. A joint convention of central Trade Unions and federations was held on 3rd June focusing on the ominous scenario of sick and closed factories, with Hindmotor joining a long line of prominent predecessors like Dunlop, Duckback, Jessop, numerous jute mills, textile mills, engineering units and tens of thousands of factories fast disappearing from the industrial landscape of the state. The flawed industrial policy (ironically under the hype of ‘industrialization’), labour policy and the Labour and Industrial ministries were put in the dock, and demands raised for the way forward.