Chennai, India: Union officers and workers remain in jail in strike at Foxcomm plant

Foxcomm's Chennai plant has 7,800 workers, 6,000 of which are contract workers

International Metals Federation, October 18, 2010

Twelve Foxconn workers and union leaders remain in prison on October 13 in Chennai, India after hundreds of workers striking the plant were arrested on October 9.

More than 1,200 permanent workers belonging to the Foxconn India Thozhilalar Sangam (FITS) union, which is affiliated to Center For Indian Trade Unions (CITU), at the plant have been involved in weeks of struggle to have their union recognized by management so as to negotiate wage rises and other demands.

On October 9 police arrested hundreds of workers who had been picketing and striking the plant for several days. Around 319 workers including the trade union leaders were remanded into judicial custody and transferred to Vellore central jail. Remaining workers were let off and around 200 women workers were taken to a bus stop and asked to leave. When the women refused and demanded to be arrested also, they were abused and forced off the police vehicle.

On October 13, the court granted bail to 307 workers. The remaining 12 workers and union leaders remain in jail, including A. Soundhirarajan, CITU State General Secretary and E. Muthu Kumar, CITU District Secretary, Kanchipuram and FITS President.

Workers at the plant with four years experience earn INR 4,800 (US$ 106) per month. FITS is demanding a basic pay of INR 10,000 (US$221), other additional bonuses and health checks and medical insurance.

In addition to the latest rounds of arrests, the company has retaliated by deducting eight days of wages from striking workers’ pay, suspending 23 union activists and leaders, and refusing to negotiate with the union on the grounds that it has entered an agreement with an alternative union the Foxconn India Thozhilalar Munnetra Sangam (FITMS).

It is understood that Foxconn management reached a wage agreement with FITMS 15 days after FITS lodged its wage demands. FITMS claims memberships of 696 workers and reached a wage agreement with Foxconn for a wage increase to INR 8,999 (US$ 177).

Throughout the dispute, the FITS sought assistance from the Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC) to resolve the issues, including calling on the government authority to conduct an election to determining the majority union at the site. Despite the DLC advising the company to negotiate and not take actions that would lead to the victimization of the workers, the government has failed to take steps to remedy the situation. Instead, police have been used to repeatedly harass, arrest and detain the striking workers.

To send an email protest letter to the Indian authorities in support of these Foxconn workers go to the LabourStart campaign page at:

To send your protest directly to Foxconn, please fax a letter to Gou Tai-ming, CEO, Foxconn, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. in Taiwan at: Fax: +886 2 2282 2825

The IMF demands that Foxconn:

  • immediately drops the charges behind the arrest and detention of the Foxconn workers and union leaders,
  • reinstates the victimized workers to their former work assignments with back pay, and
  • enters into good faith negotiations with the FITS union to resolve these issues and ongoing problems stemming from the working and employment conditions at Foxconn factory in Nokia SEZ complex of Tamil Nadu, India.

There are approximately 7,800 workers at the Foxconn India plant, of this 1,800 are employed on a permanent basis and 6,000 are contract or trainee workers.

See a timeline of recent events at Foxconn India here.

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