The workers under the banner of the General Motors Employee Union (GMEU) are demanding that they be absorbed by the factory’s new owner. The hunger strike may further delay finalising a commercial agreement between Hyundai, which has its growth plans for the Indian market hinged on the Talegaon facility and the US automaker.
The local arm of the Korean automaker signed a term sheet with GM for a potential buyout of the Talegaon plant near Pune on March 13.
A final deal is subject to meeting certain conditions including obtaining regulatory approvals from relevant government authorities and all stakeholders.
A spokesperson for Hyundai Motor India said the company doesn’t have any fresh update on the deal with GM, adding that the commercial agreement is still to be signed. An email sent to GM remained unanswered till press time.
This July, the Detroit-based automaker received approval from the Maharashtra government for the closure of the Talegaon plant. The approval is based on certain conditions that relate to the separation package, seeking a no-objection certificate from various agencies, and sharing job-related details of the workers with the buyer, Hyundai. The union has challenged the Maharashtra government’s approval for plant closure in the Bombay High Court. The order is pending.“There will be an indefinite chain hunger strike by 1000 workers by General Motors Employee Union and their families under the guidance of Maharashtra State Labour Action Committee and Shramik Ekta Federation from October 2, 2023, to protest the unemployment caused by the GM and Hyundai deal and Maharashtra’s government’s apathy towards the workers,” said the statement undersigned by President GMEU, Sandeep Bhegde. The GMEU, which has been locked in a protracted legal battle with GM since the company decided to exit the Indian market in 2017, has been rejecting the severance package offered by the company and has instead demanded that they be employed by the company which buys out the plant. Of the 1,086 workers laid off by the company, 880 workers have rejected the package.
Among other things, the union’s charter of demands includes transfer of all employees of General Motors’ workers to the new owner, Hyundai Motor India with service conditions. “Without resolving the issue of life and death of 1000 workers and 5000 dependents, the Government should not give any permission to Hyundai Motor,” the statement said.
The union alleged that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis have not given time to the union for a meeting despite repetitive requests since the last six months. “The issue of the workers should be resolved by holding a meeting between the workers and the two companies as soon as possible,” the statement said.