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Sep 29, 2009

Pricol Top management met CM !


In the wake of a major labour unrest and the murder of a top official, the top management of Pricol met chief minister M Karunanidhi at the secretariat on Monday. The company has been facing labour unrest for the past 2 ½ years that took a turn for the worse when its vice president, human resources (HR) Roy J George was allegedly killed by workers.

“We had a brief interaction and gave the facts of the case. We made a representation to the government requesting them to solve the problem at the earliest,” executive director, Pricol, Vanitha Mohan, said. She, along with Vijay Mohan, Pricol chairman, and some representatives of the CII, met Karunanidhi. Pricol had dismissed 42 employees at its Kuniamuthur unit for indiscipline following which workers assaulted Roy with iron rods at its main unit in Periyanaickanpalayam on September 21. He succumbed to injuries a day later at a private hospital. Top company officials said they were open to government mediation and that they were willing to hold talks with the “real representatives” of unions to resolve the labour tangle.
Denying charges that the management was not willing to negotiate with the workers in the past, Pricol director Vikram Mohan said talks were initiated with office bearers of the AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Union) affiliated unions, which commands the support of a majority of the workforce. However, the office bearers were removed from their positions as the “hardcore elements” didn’t believe in negotiations, he said.

Refuting the allegations made by unions,company officials said only 150 permanent workers were dismissed in past three years. Even the latest dismissal at Kuniamuthur was not illegal, they said. “Show cause notices were issued to them for their continuous low productivity. Their explanations were not satisfactory. After complying with all necessary legal formalities and affording full opportunity, they were lawfully dismissed,” Vijay Mohan said. The issue is now pending before the labour court in Coimbatore.

Pointing out that the unions indulged in violence on the premises on three previous occasions, officials contended that the attack on Roy was a “pre-planned” one. The labour unrest began after Pricol, which makes auto instruments, transferred some workers to its Uttarakhand plant.
Two unions affiliated to AICCTU, which according to the management has Marxist-Leninist (ML) leanings, went on a strike demanding recognition and withdrawal of transfer orders for three months in 2007. About 1000 permanent workers including around 150 “hardcore activists” are associated with the union.

The continuing labour strife has hit the company, which has 1500 permanent employees and an equal number of temporary workers in Coimbatore, severely. Capacity utilisation at Coimbatore plants slipped to 33% but its units in north have been operating at more than 70% of their capacities. As a result the company had moved about 20% of its critical production to its Pune, Manesar and Pantnagar units. The plants in Coimbatore contribute about 50% of the company’s Rs 614 crore topline

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