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Hyundai Motor recognises workers' union

Bapun Raz

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With the recognition of the United Union of Hyundai Employees (UUHE) May 12, Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) became the first multi-national company in the Sriperumbudur industrial belt of Tamil Nadu to allow the functioning of a workers union.

"Ours is a non-political workers union. It is not affiliated to any political party. We had registered the union in March and May 12 the company gave the recognition," K. Dilli Babu, president of UUHE, told IANS.

For the past several years, HMIL had refused to recognise the Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU) on the ground that the company has a works committee to take care of workers' issues.

As the committee has no legal standing, workers started a registered trade union which was affiliated to the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the trade union arm of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Babu said: "We insisted on the necessity of a registered trade union recognised by the management. On their side, the management wanted an apolitical trade union."

"Once the management was satisfied that we have the majority membership, it accorded recognition to our union," he added.

The company has over 1,830 permanent workers.

The union's treasurer, E.K. Kumaraswamy, told IANS: "We will discuss with the management the issue of the reinstatement of dismissed workers, withdrawal of cases filed against workers and other matters."

With the formation and recognition of the union, the management has dissolved the works committee.

The recognition of worker unions in multinational companies has been a major issue.

The DMK government had set up a committee to study the law in other states where recognition of trade unions by companies was mandatory.

Hyundai Motor has two plants near Chennai with a total capacity of 600,000 cars per year.