The workers of Marshall Machine Limited, located at Focal Point, Ludhiana, secured success by persuading the management and labour department to concede to their demands.
Around 150 workers of a company manufacturing ‘turning machines’ (i.e. computer-controlled lathe machines) waged a strike since last February 7 on issues related to wages and social security. The strike was being led by an elected committee of workers.
A written agreement was signed between the management and the workers in front of the factory at around 9 pm on Friday, February 10, in the presence of the officers of the labour department. Subsequently the workers called off the strike which had been going on for 4 days.
According to the written agreement, the workers will be paid wages on the 10th of every month along with salary slips. Identity cards of labourers will be made. The workers who are not getting the facilities of ESI and EPF will be granted these facilities.
Apart from this, from May 2022, the EPF and ESI related money collected by the company by deducting it from the salary of the workers and the company will get its share deposited in the government treasury soon so that there is no hindrance in getting these facilities to the workers.
In the settlement letter, the company complied in writing that it would be paid in three instalments, stating that it was unable to pay the full salary for January 2023 immediately due to “economic crisis”. 20 percent salary will be paid before 2 pm on February 11, 20 percent on February 16, remaining 60 percent on February 20. The workers will also get two days’ salary for the four-day strike.
The agreement declared that no retaliatory action would be taken by the company against any worker involved in the struggle.
According to the agreement, after ending the strike, all the workers will return to work from the morning of 11 February.
Complaints have been issued by the workers with both the departments on how the company has defaulted regarding EPF and ESI.
The committee expressed its decision to the settlement talks only after a thorough discussion with the workers on all these things and signed the settlement paper after all the workers agreed.
During this strike the workers were addressed by Lakhwinder, President of Factory Workers Union and Jagdish, Secretary of Textile-Hosiery Workers Union.
The union warned the management that if the agreement is not enforced gracefully and promptly and on time, the workers would revert to striking and continue waging their struggle.
Labour Inspector Neha Gupta, Naresh Garg etc. were involved in this negotiation representing Labour Department.
During the strike, the union alleged that the company wished to place the entire responsibility of the economic crisis on the workers. That’s why salaries were being paid with delay month after month and the company was not depositing the money being deducted from the salaries of the workers related to EPF and ESI and its share to the concerned departments.
Apart from this, other legal labour rights are also being violated, to a limited extent.
Instead of submitting to the mercy of this injustice of the company, the workers embarked on the road of struggle.
125 workers of the company went on strike on 7th February last. The brokers of the capitalists, who came in the guise of labour leaders, invested every ounce of their energy to divert the workers from the path of united struggle, but the workers persisted with their struggle under the banner of their militant union, Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Punjab and won.
The political education, work methods persistence of the Karkhana Mazdoor Union is most commendable, in securing such a victory, and boosted the self-confidence or striking capacity of the workers.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India