India: Contractual workers strike at Honda plant after workers sent on 'indefinite leave'

In November 2019, approximately 2,000 workers at a Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in Manesar went on strike, after nearly 300 contractual workers were asked to go on indefinite leave.

Workers said the company had drawn a list of 650 workers they planned to send on indefinite leave. HMSI explained that the dismissals were based on 'demand fluctuations and product adjustment,' and that the 200 contractual members who had finished their terms had been relieved from work. 

Workers protested around the plant, and refused to leave until their demands were met, including financial assistance for those asked to leave and regularisation of those who had been working at the plant for over 10 years. Meetings took place between management, union members and labour department officials, but had failed to come to a resolution.

A week after the strike started, Honda announced that plant operations at the Manesar plant were suspended, and the plant would remain closed until a resolution had been met.

As the strike entered its 11th day, it was reported that approximately 50 workers had fallen sick and 12 hospitalised, due to a lack of food, after management had shut down the canteen. Honda did not respond to these claims.

 Honda also allegedly sought a stay order on the strike, in an attempt to evict striking workers from the plant. Honda declined to comment. Honda workers later vacated the plant, and continued their strike outside the premises, after management agreed to work towards a solution.

Further company comments can be found below.

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26 November 2019

India: Honda contract workers sent on 'indefinite leave' fear being replaced with lower wage workers

Author: Akhil Kumar, The Wire

"Honda Workers’ Protest Enters 16th Day, Over 3,000 Camp Outside Manesar Plant", 20 November 2019

...the scale and duration of this agitation is unprecedented in recent times. It is being led by contract employees, one of the most vulnerable category of workers, and is being supported by unions from various other factories in the vicinity...

...Many of the workers now sent on ‘indefinite leave’ have been working at the plant for a decade or more but still haven’t been made permanent. Their contractors change every year and they are made to re-join through a different contractor and different employee IDs...Their salaries are also not revised regularly.

Workers are also suspicious of the company’s assurances that workers who are being let go would be hired again after three months. “Many of our colleagues were sent on leave in December 2018 as well. They were told that the company was giving them a short and temporary break and they would be rehired. Many of those workers had to stay unemployed for months as the company didn’t call them back,” Gautam Kumar, a migrant worker...told The Wire...

...“They rounded up around 1000 of us whose clearance and renewal were due till March and asked us to get our clearance and go on leave for three months, and that we would be rehired...We have already seen our colleagues who were promised the same but were never called back. There’s a fear in the minds of the workers that this is a ploy to get rid of us permanently and hire new workers at much lower wages,” Somnath, who has been working at HMSI since 2011, told The Wire.

Workers are also agitated with the fact that they are the first to face the brunt of adverse circumstances while people in the management remain unaffected irrespective of the slowdown...

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26 November 2019

India: Over 4,000 march in protest following the dismissal of contractual Honda workers & suspension of operations by management

Author: Press Trust of India, Business Standard

"Workers of Honda Motorcycle's Manesar plant stage protest march" 24 November 2019

A section of workers of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India's (HMSI) Manesar plant...took out a protest against the company's decision to sack contractual workers and suspend work at the facility...

..."Some 4,000-5,000 workers participated in the march. We submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner demanding an early solution," a union leader told PTI...

...HMSI in a statement said the slowdown in the industry...has led to production adjustment and manpower realignment at the plant...

..."Instigated by the union the relieved contractual workers were pressurised to sit in front of the union office which further resorted to illegally occupying the plant's premises..."...

..."...the contractual workers continued to sit inside the premises in spite of several requests from the contractor and Labour department. Hence, the company had to stop normal operations..."...

..."The matter is now under discussion between the contractor and their employees. As per the notice issued by the contractor while they had already offered alternative job opportunity and monetary dues as per the prevailing law to those who are not willing to take the offer," HMSI said.

After contractual workers vacated the premises with support of local authorities and court, the normal production operation at the Manesar plant is likely to resume on from November 25, it added...

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20 November 2019

India: Striking Honda workers vacate plant after management agree to negotiate a resolution

Author: Sonali Vernma, Hindustan Times

"Striking Honda workers vacate Manesar plant’s premises as talks continue with management", 20 November 2019

The impasse between workers’ union and management at the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in Manesar could be closer to resolution...after a meeting held with the HMSI management, the Haryana labour commissioner Nitin Yadav and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala in Chandigarh...

...Meanwhile, close to 1,500 contractual workers who have been staging a sit-in at the company...vacated the premises and continued their strike outside the premises, after the management agreed to work towards reaching a resolution soon, said union workers...

...An HMSI spokesperson...confirmed that “positive” discussions regarding the workers’ demands took place in Chandigarh on Tuesday, without stating which of the workers’ demands, if any, are likely to be met...

...Another round of talks is scheduled...with the labour department in Gurugram...

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19 November 2019

India: Honda allegedly attempts to evict striking workers from plant through district civil court

Author: Ronak Chhabra, News Click

"Manesar: Tussle at Honda Reaches Court, Management Wants Workers Evicted", 18 November 2019

...After failing to get to a consensus with the striking workers, the Honda management has moved the district civil court seeking a stay order on the strike...

...the management wants the workers to be evicted from the Manesar facility, in addition to which, the management has also asked for further police protection.

...Currently, well over 1,500 of [the protesters] are sitting on a dharna inside the plant, NewsClick has learnt. Their demands include fair compensation to the retrenched workers and regularisation of all who have been working for more than 10 years.

The management, in its suit, has named 16 workers, which, according to the union, is “witch-hunting” of the workers leading the strike.

"Instead of reaching an agreement, the management has moved court to generate fear among the striking workers,” said Suresh Gaur, president of HMSI Employees’ Union...

...Honda’s company secretary Sanjeev Kumar Chaubey and Manesar division head of general affairs, Naveen Sharma...both declined to comment on the issue.

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18 November 2019

India: Striking Honda workers reportedly hospitalised, as canteen closure reduces food supplies

Author: Shubhra Pant, Times of India

"Protest enters 11th day, 50 workers fall sick at Honda plant", 15 November 2019

As many as 50 contractual workers protesting at the Honda plant in Manesar...have reportedly fallen sick and 12 of them have been hospitalised...While protesters said...

...The workers said they were not getting enough to eat or drink as the Honda management shut down the canteen...they claimed they were surviving on bread loaves, cold milk, and bananas which had led to stomach disorders...

...Meanwhile, union leaders again met deputy commissioner Amit Khatri...and sought action from thegovernment to resolve the issue...

...A labour department official said they're in talks with the management and "are hopeful of a solution soon". Honda didn't respond.

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13 November 2019

India: Honda close plant after failing to reach resolution with striking workers

Author: Sonali Verma, Hindustan Times

"Honda closes Manesar plant as 1,500 contract workers continue their strike", 12 November 2019

Impasse continued at the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in no resolution could be reached...

,,,This comes a day after the management issued a notice to employees stating: “Due to the prevailing IR (industrial relations) situation, plant operations have been suspended and the plant will remain closed till further intimation”...

...Another round of talks was held on Monday between the management and the union, however, no solution could be reached, said the union president Suresh Kumar Gaur....

...An HMSI spokesperson...confirmed that all the three assembly lines... of the plant would remain shut until further notice or till the matter settles. The management did not categorically respond to the allegations levelled by the workers’ union...

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7 November 2019

India: Around 2,000 contractual Honda workers protest after workers asked to go on indefinite leave

Author: Shubhra Pant, The Times of India

"Gurugram: Workers protest as Honda sends nearly 300 on ‘indefinite leave'", 6 November 2019

Around 2,000 contractual workers employed with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) Pvt Ltd...went on a protest...after nearly 300 of them were asked to go on indefinite leave...

...Several workers...said that the company has drawn a list of around 650 workers that they plan to send on indefinite leave this week...“While around 300 workers have already been asked to go, another 350 are in line. If we look at the numbers since August, around 2,000 casual workers have been asked to go", said Suresh Gour, president of the workers' union...

...A spokesperson for HMSI said, "Based on demand fluctuations and production adjustment, 200 contractual members whose terms had been completed have been relieved from work. Necessary recruitment will be considered on the basis of future market requirements."...

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