Retrenched HM car plant workers withdraw stir temporarily

Insight Online News

Chennai, Oct 2 : On the assurance given by the Tiruvallur District Collector that their issue would be sorted out in the coming week, the retrenched workers of Hindustan Motors/Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation Ltd and their family members wound up their indefinite sit-in protest at the collectorate on Friday late night, a worker said.

They began their protest on Friday morning demanding back their land or a job in PCA Automobiles India Private Ltd.

Car maker PCA Automobiles located in Tiruvallur is a joint venture between global automotive manufacturer Stellantis Group and India’s C.K. Birla group.

Hindustan Motors Ltd/Hindustan Motor Finance belonged to the C.K. Birla group.

“The Collector spoke to CPI’s Tamil Nadu unit Secretary R. Mutharasan and assured him that the matter will be sorted out on Monday and requested the protest be called off,” E. Srinivasan, Secretary of the Hindustan Motors Land Giving Farmers Progressive Association told IANS.

“We have called off the protest for now. If the matter is not resolved then we will restart our protest,” H. Ismail, one of the retrenched workers whose grandfather’s land was acquired by Hindustan Motors in 1968 told IANS.

The protest was flagged off by CPI MP K. Subbarayan Friday morning.

According to a worker the state government does not want a protest on the day of Gandhi Jayanthi.

The workers were earlier employed by Hindustan Motors Ltd/Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation Ltd at its Tiruvallur car plant rolling out Japanese Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s models like Lancer, Pajero and also under contract manufacturing deal for Isuzu Motors MU 7 model.

Later about 175 permanent workers and over 150 contract workers were retrenched by Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation and the plant was transferred to PCA Automobiles.

“We were retrenched despite an agreement signed between the two joint venture partners that the workers will be absorbed by PCA Automobiles,” Ismail said.

“Based on this Employee Transfer Agreement, Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation got permission from the Tamil Nadu government to transfer the plant and other assets to PCA Automobiles. Post transfer of assets, the workers — permanent and on contract — were sent out,” Srinivasan had told IANS.

According to Srinivasan, Hindustan Motors acquired about 356 acres of agricultural land from 1968 at Tiruvallur for its earthmoving equipment division.

Initially Hindustan Motors bought the land directly from the owners. But it was not able to get the extent it wanted and sought the District Collector’s help. Later the company deposited the land cost with the government treasury and the government transferred the land to the company, Srinivasan said.

At that point of time, the District Collector had assured that the land owners will be employed by the company at its earthmoving equipment plant.

However, the landowners were not given employment as promised earlier and after protesting Hindustan Motors employed 82 persons — mostly the grandsons of the landowners — in 1980s.

“After a decade of protests another batch of 82 workers were hired as trainees in 1997,” Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan and Ismail said Hindustan Motors confirmed the trainee workers only after 10 years.

Hindustan Motors hived off a sizable portion of the land for its car plant to roll out Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s models like Lancer, Pajero.

And some workers of the Hindustan Motors’ earthmoving equipment division were transferred to the car plant.

Some years later, the Indian company transferred the plant to Hindustan Finance Corporation and then to PCA Automobiles while sending out permanent and contract workers.

Hindustan Motors sold its earthmoving equipment division (that made dumpers, loaders and others) to Caterpillar, US.

Barring the 22 workers whose grandfathers had given their land to the factory and some others, the majority of the permanent workers had agreed to take lump sum compensation from Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation.

“The company had deposited the lump sum in our bank accounts without our consent. We wrote to the company, Tamil Nadu government and also to PCA Automobiles stressing our demand for jobs and the amount deposited would be treated as our monthly wages,” Srinivasan had said.

According to Srinivasan, the PCA Automobiles plant has about 190 acres of land of which about 150 acres are vacant.

“We want our land back so that we can do farming and manage our families,” Srinivasan said.

“Our land is there. The old owner — C.K. Birla group and new owner Stellantis Group — are also there. The car plant is also rolling out Citroen brand cars. Only we are not there. This is not just,” Ismail and Srinivasan said.

IANS / AGENCY

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