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HC orders police shield for Enfield's Vallam unit as strike venue shifts

Gireesh Babu/Chennai 13 Oct 18 | 04:40 PM

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Even as the standoff between the management and the union in a factory of two-wheeler major Royal Enfield in Oragadam continues, the company has attained one more order from the Madras High Court, restricting the protesters from holding a strike near its Vallam unit in the same district. The union spearheading the strike has said production may be affected in October as well.The company had, on September 28, obtained an order from the court directing the local police officials to protect the factory and its operations from the workers who have struck work. The order has barred strikes or protests within 100 metres of its Oragadam factory.

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In response, the workers started protesting near the company's factory in Vallam, which is also in the same district, following which the company moved court.

The Court observed in the interim order, that though the company had sought police protection for its Oragadam unit, there was no reference to the Vallam factory. Senior counsel Anand of T S Gopalan and Co claimed that the union was taking advantage of the omission, and was conducting a strike withing100 metres of the Vallam plant.

Justice P N Prakash accepted the counsel's submission and, in a fresh order issued on Friday, extended the period of the September 28 interim order to four weeks and stated and also brought the Vallam factory under its ambit. The company has three manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu -- one each in Oragadam, Vallam and Tiruvottiyur.

The strike has only affected operations at Oragadam, while the Vallam factory has been working. The company has said that it has been renewing the settlement with the Enfield Employees Union, which has over 700 members, for the Tiruvottiyur factory from time to time.

Meanwhile, the strike by the workers at Orgadam is likely to impact production this month also, the union says.

"The strike took off on September 24, and it has resulted in a (production) loss of 10,000 units during the month, according to the company. Only 50 per cent production is taking place now and this will impact the output this month as well," said R Sampath, vice president of Royal Enfield Employees Union (REEU).

Responding to an email seeking the company's comment on this, Royal Enfield said, "We have had a loss in production of 10,000 motorcycles in the month of September. We are assessing the loss of production in October, as the workforce continues to be on strike."

The union claims that it has a strength of around 740 workers, almost 600 of whom are continuing to strike. The company is operating the unit with temporary workers and a clutch of permanent ones, the Union added.

REEU had earlier called for strike on September 24, calling upon the management to reinstate some 120 probationary employees and one permanent employee, and release the bonus pending since 2015.

The management had earlier informed the exchanges that it is expecting to reach regular levels of production in a phased manner. The company claimed that it had not terminated anyone in the wake of recent developments at the plant and that pay revisions are done annually. The last annual salary revision was done in April 2018, and the next is due in April 2019.

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