Bangalore: After 17 months of hard work and a long, hard fight, 80 fired ITI workers have finally won a big victory. Last month, the high court issued an order, which was just recently made public, telling ITI management to bring back 35 workers right away, then the other 45 workers.
In its decision, the high court emphasised that the management must follow the labour agreement reached between the parties and bring back the 80 workers who were wrongfully fired on December 1, 2021.
These workers had been protesting outside ITI’s plant in Bengaluru’s Dooravaninagar for more than 500 days, making it one of the longest-running struggles of the working class in Karnataka.
On December 1, 2021, 80 workers were unfairly fired because they had formed a union and fought for their legal rights. But on March 17, 2022, the management and the workers’ union came to an agreement.
It said that 35 workers would be brought back to work right away, and the other 45 would be brought back at a later time. Despite this agreement, ITI Ltd. did not follow through with the settlement. This led the workers to go to the high court for help, where the judge ruled that the agreement was binding for both sides.
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At first, ITI Ltd hired these people on a contract basis, and many of them worked for the public sector company for up to 25 years. In 2021, 120 workers at the factory formed a union to demand that they be paid fairly and on time for their work. They said that they had not been paid on time since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
After keeping an eye on what the union was doing, the management of the Bengaluru plant told 80 workers that they couldn’t come to work starting on December 1, 2021. 40 workers who chose to leave the union, on the other hand, were allowed to keep working.
Even though the 80 workers’ contracts were not officially cancelled, they were pretty much fired. Early in 2022, they went to the labour department and got an order from the labour commissioner telling ITI Ltd to let the workers go back to work and stop changing their working conditions.
At first, ITI Ltd said that the contract with the agency that hired the 80 people had ended. They insisted that the workers would have to go through an interview and selection process with a new contractor if they wanted to get their jobs back.