General Motors India illegally retrench 1,086 workers

28 July, 2021 General Motors, at its Talegaon plant near Pune, India, retrenched all 1,086 unionized workers on 12 July, after they did not accept the voluntary separation scheme (VSS) offered by the company. General Motors is in the process selling its Pune plant to Great Wall Motors, a Chinese company.

General Motors India workers refused to accept the VSS offer it was forced upon them by the company. The workers are represented by the General Motors India Employees Union, which is a constituent of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Shramik Ekta Mahasangh (SEM). 

Earlier, the company set a 4 July deadline for accepting the VSS and about 30 percent of the total workforce accepted this plan. Union members reported that for the most part, workers who transferred after the closure of GM’s Halol plant in Gujarat in 2017 and relocated to the Pune plant accepted the VSS offer. On July 12, the company retrenched 1,086 workers who had not accepted the VSS, unliterally paying meagre compensation directly into their bank accounts and calling it a full and final settlement. No prior permission of the State Government, as mandated by Indian law, was taken prior to the action, making it illegal.

The union has challenged the company’s decision at the Maharashtra Industrial Court on July 15 and called on the court to issue a stay order for retrenchment and the sale of the factory. On the next day, the court held an urgent hearing and the management committed not to proceed with the sales process until 3 August, by which time it will file a formal reply. GM management has stopped production at the Pune plant since December 2020.

Dilip Pawar, president of SEM said,

“The GM workers in India are facing very difficult situation due to the illegal retrenchment done with the intention to force workers to accept lower compensation. We have been demanding the General Motors management to provide appropriate separation compensation or continue employment with the prospective buyer of this plant. These workers spent most part of their working life to this company, and they are demanding a dignified resolution. The GM India workers will pursue all legal means to get justice”.

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary said that,

“The ongoing industrial dispute at the General Motors Talegaon plant is very worrisome. The issues should have been discussed with the union before any such action was taken. Such unilateral decisions go against established principles of industrial relations  and the management should find mutually acceptable solution in consultation with the trade unions.”

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