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A smart move by TN govt to tackle frequent labour unrest

By T E Narasimhan
June 27, 2019 21:36 IST
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Exasperated by frequent labour strikes, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to give public utility status to Auto components makers. A move that has left labour unions fuming since, now, they won’t be able to go on strike without issuing a notice of six weeks in advance.

With labour problems in the auto components industry mounting, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to declare the segment a public utility service in line with the status given to original equipment manufacturers.

The labour unions are not amused and are planning to oppose the move.


According to sources, a government order has been issued in which it says the governor is satisfied that public interest requires that the auto components manufacturing industry should be declared a public utility service for the purpose of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (Central Act XIV of 1947).

The Act will be for a period of six months, said the order.

The development comes in the backdrop of frequent strikes in various components supplier factories, including Comstar Automotive Technologies, Young Shin Automotive India and NVH India Auto, which are suppliers to Hyundai Motor India for the past few months.

The auto industry has welcomed the move.

According to the Industrial Disputes Act, persons employed in public utility services cannot go on strike without issuing a notice of six weeks in advance.

The strike must also not be organised within 14 days of giving such a notice, or when conciliation proceedings are ongoing, or even within seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.

A Soundararajan, state president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said this would mean that workers cannot engage in strike.

Once the segment is treated as a public utility, there should be prior notice and the agitators cannot protest during the time of conciliation and even if the conciliation fails, the matter would go to court.

With a well-developed auto ecosystem, Tamil Nadu is one of the top 10 automobile hubs in the world.

Tamil Nadu accounted for 45 per cent of India’s motor vehicle/car exports in 2017-18.

The state accounts for 35 per cent of India’s auto components production and is the largest tyre manufacturer in the country.

Chennai has an annual installed capacity of 1.71 million car units.

India’s sixth largest city, which is often called the Detroit of India, produces three cars every minute, one truck every two minutes and one motorcycle every six seconds.

Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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T E Narasimhan in Chennai
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