Hyundai workers want union recognition decided on ballot

"Let there be a secret ballot to determine which union has the support of the majority of the workers. We have served a strike notice to hold elections to decide which union the workers prefer to represent them," HMIEU president Edison Periera told IANS.

A meeting is scheduled at the labour commissioner's office May 19 on this issue, he added.

"Workers' are with us. Let the ballot decide," Periera said.

The Indian subsidiary of South Korean automobile maker Hyundai accorded recognition to the newly-formed United Union of Hyundai Employees (UUHE) May 12, after years of refusal to recognise the HMIEU formed in 2007.

HMIL had refused to recognise HMIEU on the ground that the company has a works committee to take care of workers' issues.

As the committee had no legal standing, workers registered the HMIEU and elected Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) general secretary A.Soundararajan as their president.

UUHE office bearers had told IANS that HMIL management recognised their union as it is apolitical.

The reasoning did not find favour with HMIEU.

"All these years the management has been saying that it would not recognise any union. If it wants an apolitical union, they could have discussed with us," HMIEU vice president R.Gunasekaran told IANS.

He said a strike notice on the issue of recognition has been served two months back.

Asked to respond, a senior HMIL official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IANS: "We have accorded recognition only after we were satisfied that UUHE has the majority membership. The HMIEU has split and the new union is started by the splinter group. The office bearers of the UUHE were formerly members of HMIEU."

"We have studied it in depth and found that HMIEU never had a majority. The maximum support it had was 600 workers. And when wage negotiations were held last time, around 900 workers went on strike. Many of the workers participated in the strike to lend weight to the union and get a higher pay packet," he said.

On the HMIEU's charge that the company has not reinstated 32 dismissed workers, the official said: "The six member committee - comprising representatives from the company, the union and the labour department - formed last year, had unanimously recommended reinstatement of 14 dismissed workers. Accordingly they have been taken back. The remaining workers will have to seek a legal remedy."

He said the holding of secret ballot will be decided at the conciliation meeting.
HMIL has two plants near Chennai with a total capacity of 600,000 cars per year. The company has around 1,870 permanent workers.

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