October 25, 2015 After tripartite discussions, around 600 workers have resumed work at Arvind Mills’ Santej facility in Gandhinagar Saturday evening, company officials said. Though the agitation entered day three, a few workers returned to work after discussions were held among government labour officers, company representatives and workers’ representatives. Sources close to the development told the paper that the strike is on and the complete picture would emerge only Sunday after workers resume work.
Around 35 representatives from the workforce, community leaders had met with the government labour officer and HS Rawal, the Assistant Commissioner of Labour- Mehsana as conciliation proceedings went on at Arvind’s Santej facility.
The strike had entered day three at Arvind’s Santej facility, after around 6,580 workers went on strike demanding bonus and pay hike on October 22.
However, company representatives said that a few workers have returned to work post-discussions. They were convinced that breaking the agreement signed in 2012 by labour unions and the textile Mill owners would be illegal.
Valjibhai Rabari, a worker at the facility said, “As we had signed an agreement regarding settlement of wages till 2018, we are going by that and have returned to work. Production has begun and many workers have returned in second shift which began at 4 pm today.”
Till late Saturday evening, however, government officials were still locked in discussions with the workers.
“The workers are demanding a raise in the salary but have failed to convey how much hike they want or their demands and no leaders have emerged. The workers claim that the 2012-2018 agreement that their Union (Textile Labour Association) had entered into with textile mill owners in the year 2012 is not acceptable to them and they are saying that many don’t even know the terms of it,” said B Prajapati, Government Labour Officer.
He added, “Official number of striking workers was around 6,580 and almost the whole plant is on strike. It is the third day of the agitation and the workers have not gone to work. We have met around 35 representatives from Arvind’s Santej plant. They have verbally told us that they want to break the agreement which has been registered by the Assistant Labour Commissioner — Ahmedabad, although this is legally not possible. We are still in talks with them and will try to arrive at a mutual settlement.”
However, by late evening company officials said that around 600 odd workers came into the facility and production has resumed. “We have been engaged in meeting with the agitating workers all day. The government labour officer, the local area Sarpanch and community leaders were also present for the meeting along with company representatives. The labour officers spoke to the workers about legal agreement and mostly it looks like they have agreed to begin the second shift which begins in the evening. However, the workers who were on strike did not join work on the first shift on Saturday but they will resume work soon,” said officials from Arvind Ltd, Santej facility.
The strike had been termed as illegal by the Textile Labour Association (TLA) after these textile mill workers breached the agreement arrived at with the textile mill owners and union leaders in 2012 for a pay hike of Rs 1,935 per month after workers had gone on strike in the city in 2012.