BYD Electronics, a Nokia supplier company located in a Special Economic Zone at Orggadam near Chennai, terminated the services of 2,500 contract workers, sacked 37 permanent workers, suspended 23 more and ordered 437 others to sign a letter of apology to keep their jobs and announced an illegal lock out on November 1.
As soon as the union was formed in early October, the management began to lay off workers. Workers went on a 24 hour strike on October 21, 2010 to force the management to negotiate with the union. However the management refused to discuss the issues facing the thousands of contract workers, In such conditions more than 3,000 workers held a three day sit-in strike from October 28 to 30 at the factory. The management of BYD Electronics has resorted to lockout in order to crush the struggle of workers.
BYD Electronics employs around 3000 workers, of which 850 workers are directly employed by the factory while remaining contract workers are employed through recruitment agencies. These contract workers are laid-off at will without any compensation. All workers have to work for 12 hours a day from 8am to 8pm without any compensation for overtime. A worker with four years experience receives the salary of only Rs 5,400.
Among others, the union is demanding:
- Recognition of the trade union chosen by the workers;
- Conversion of contract workers who have completed 260 days work in the company to regular workers;
- A similar uniform for all workers (currently there are 6 colours of uniforms used for different categories of workers);
- An eight hour working day;
- Increased basic salary
- Improved medical facilities in the factory; and
- Three months maternity leave with pay.