report

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE UNION FOR THE YEAR 2012

 
 
                                                                                                                     April 29, 2012
Dear friends,
 
At the outset, I welcome you all to the 48th Annual General Body Meeting of the Union. We have gathered here to analyse, discuss and debate on the work done by the Union in the previous year. We shall adopt resolutions on Bank transactions.
 
We shall discuss the future course of the working of Union in relation with the Management, the Union's role with the other strata of working class and its role towards the society. We shall also discuss on the aspects of National and Global solidarity and affiliation with International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) and to work closely with Siemens Team of IG Metall, Germany. With world economy under severe recessionary mode, it has become imperative for all unions to build solidarity since it is most likely that there will attacks on working class in form of cutting of wages, structural reforms to de-unionise workers etc. The time has come and we should take this opportunity to integrate with likeminded sections of society to build a strong resistance against any steps taken by the ruling class to take away the gains secured in the past.
 
EVENTS OF THE YEAR 2011-12
 
PROTEST HUNGER STRIKE AT NASHIK
 
On 26 January 2012, Mr. Ashtekar, President of the Union along with 40 workers of Nashik held a protest one day hunger strike before the Deputy Labour Commissioner Office at Nashik. The protest was against the non-implementation of Interim Award of wage increase of Rs. 6500/- per month for each undisputed workman. 
 
On 28-04-2011 the Industrial Tribunal in Reference Matter IT 02 of 2008, passed an Interim Award of wage increase of Rs. 6500/- per month for 47 undisputed workmen. Aggrieved by this Interim Award, the Company approached the Bombay High Court for stay on the Award. Hon’ble Shri Ketkar of the Bombay High Court, did not interfere or stayed the Interim Award. However the Hon’ble High Court asked the 47 workmen to file undertaking before the Hon’ble Court, that they will return the amount of money paid to them if they fail in the above Reference. The Company was not satisfied with this decision and approached the for injunction on the Order of the Single Judge. Upon hearing both sides the Hon’ble Divisional Bench of the Bombay High Court, did not interfere in the Order of the Single Judge. The Hon’ble Divisional Bench noted that the Union had given an undertaking that they are willing to accept the terms of settlement of Kalwe Works if they are applied to Nasik Works. The Hon’ble Divisional Bench further recorded that the Company was also willing to give the benefits to workmen of Nashik if they abide by the terms of Settlement of Kalwe works. Therefore the Hon’ble Divisional Bench asked to go back to the Industrial Tribunal and make such an application. In the event of making such an application by the Company, the Industrial Tribunal was directed to resolve the issue within 3 months. However the Hon’ble Divisional Bench did not stay the Award.
 
The Company adamantly refused to implement the Award. Therefore the Union held a protest fast on 26 January 2012. However the Company did not change their stance. The Union again approached the Industrial Court at Nashik with an Unfair Labour Practice application stating that the Company did not implement the Award. On 18-03-2012 the Industrial Court passed an Interim Order directing the Company to pay Rs. 6500/- per month for every undisputed worker from the date of Interim Award passed by the Industrial Tribunal in Ref. It 02 of 2009 which was from 28-04-2011. The Company finally complied with this Order. 
The Union won its long battle in Nashik. But the struggle is far from over. Since the reference of wage adjudication was made on behalf of 47 undisputed workmen and around 140 Trainee Officer / Jr. Executive who are actually workmen, the task before the Union is to prove them as workmen before the Tribunal. It is so important to the Union that the future of the Union depends on it. 
 
SUPREME COURT DECISION 
On 28-09-2012 there was setback for the Union. The Company had appealed before the Supreme Court against the Order of Divisional Bench of Bombay High Court. The Order of Divisional Bench of Bombay High Court had restrained the Company from asking Officers to do normal production work. However the Supreme Court did not find merit in the concurrent judgements of Divisional Bench of Bombay High Court, Single Bench of High Court or the Industrial Court and allowed the Company to promote/designate workmen as Officers. The Supreme Court did not decide on the nature of work to be done by such designated Officer. The Company seeking this opportunity designated around 50 workmen most of them were not members of the Union in Switchboard Unit of Kalwe Works. These workmen/ officer are doing the same work along with other workers. The Union has now a task on hand. The union has an option of again approaching the Courts to get these workmen/ officer declared as workmen under sec. 2(s) of the Industrial Dispute Act or to agitate on the shop floor with legitimate industrial actions and force the Company to withdraw such promotion / designation. This General Body is on the threshold of such a decision which will have its implication for the future of the Union.
 
INDRAYANI HOLIDAY HOME
Around September the Union entered into 3 year agreement with India Study Abroad Centre (ISAC), a NGO for vocational education with respect to Indrayani Holiday Home. By terms of the agreement it was decided that ISAC will use this facility for their students. In lieu of this ISAC will pay a monthly rent to the Union. 
However if a member or his family of the Union wishes to avail of the facility of Indrayani they can very well do so. However they have to intimate the Union Office 10 days in advance of such a request.
Leasing out Indrayani to an outsider was not acceptable to the committee. But managing Indrayani from was not possible and therefore there was no option left but to lease it. I appeal you to give any solution or alternative to the above arrangement. 
 
SIEMENS ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS MEETING
 
On 31-01-2012 the Company held its Annual Shareholders meeting. Taking this opportunity the Union decided to present its views and voice their grievances to the Chairman and Board of Directors.  Mr. Girish Ashtekar, President of the Union presented a paper to the Chairman and Directors. The Chairman, Mr. Deepak Parekh not only did not respond to the queries but instead reprimanded saying that it is not the forum for the issues raised by the Union. 
However the Company did take cognizance of the issues raised in the Shareholders meeting. Mr. Ramesh Shankar, HR Head called the President and Gen. Secretary, in mid-March to discuss on the issues raised by the Union in the Shareholders meeting. Except some proposals to help Aikya, a NGO administered by the Union, on the issues of Special Medical benefits, Nashik settlement, Officer issues, working and service conditions of contract workmen there was no positive response. However Mr. Shankar agreed to meet periodically to look into matters concerning workmen.
 
CRICKET TOURNAMENT 
 
Siemens Workers Union shall be completing 25 years of Internal Leadership this year. As a part of the celebrations the Union organised Inter-unit Cricket Tournament on 19th February 2012. Workmen, Officers and Contract workmen of all ages enthusiastically participated in this event. Such events bring about camaraderie among workmen. I wish this spirit of team work and sportsmanship will continue on shop floor and generate new enthusiasm among new workers.
 
PROVIDENT FUND ELECTIONS
The Company conducted elections for appointment of in mid –December. The Union and Federation sponsored candidates won the elections with overwhelming majority. The Provident Fund Employee trustees are Mr. Girish Ashtekar and Mr. Nandkumar Nagle from Kalwe works and Mr. Sidharath Senapati from Kharagpur works.
 
SIEMENS EMPLOYEES FEDERATION
 
It depresses me that not much work is being done on Siemens Employees Federation. But I assure you that in this ensuing year we shall make some headway. As you may be aware that the Company has refused to recognise the federation. The task for building the federation more indispensable, We shall make all efforts including some common programme by all constituents to achieve this objective. 
 
COURT CASES
 
1.         Cases regarding victimised workers namely – M/s Lobo, Waghule and Shinde  are pending before the courts in Thane
2.         Final Adjudication on Charter of Demands at Nashik is pending.
3.         Officer case in Nashik is pending before the Industrial Court at Nashik.
4.         Dismissal Case of Seven Aurangabad Workmen is pending before Bombay High Court Bench at Aurangabad. Hon’ble Court decided Part I award of the same in favour of the Union. Aggreived by this Orderr the company approached High Court. Hearing before the High Court is over and we are awaiting for the decision.
 
CONCLUDING REMARKS
 
On November 28-29, 2011 the Indian Industrial Relations Association (IIRA) along with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) held a National Workshop on the topic - Containing Workplace Conflicts. I was privileged to be invited to the same. The workshop was held on the backdrop of the Maruti conflict which brought forth the various issues ranging from Union affiliation, working conditions, contract workers, role of the state, individual leaders etc. I was privileged to present the situation in Siemens with respect to containing conflicts. In brief I presented the most prominent issues and conflicts with Company. The first issue being the designating workmen as Officers and asking them to workmen work only. These workmen-officers could not be represented by union and had to work on menial jobs at odd hours. The other issues of organising contract workmen and outsourcing of work which were common to almost all enterprises were also deliberated among participants.

On this backdrop Siemens Workers Union will have adopt different strategy and tactics to deal with such issues. Apart from traditional methods of struggle union will have to elevate the knowledge of their members in technology, labour laws, finance and economics. Information technology and social networks like facebook,, twitter should be used. Interactivity amongst members and related people through sms,, e-mails and websites should be introduced and encouraged. Since Siemens is a Global Company, efforts should be made to unite with unions from other countries. Unions have to give serious thought on image building. Unions are perceived as impediment to growth of nation. This has to change. Unions should be seen as service organisations. It should be seen as necessary component in business. It should work relentlessly towards alleviation of peoples’ life without consideration to political party needs or personal gains.

 
WORKING CLASS ZINDABAD
SIEMENS WORKERS UNION ZINDABAD
 
Uday Mahale
General Secretary