When the Tata Motors’ Tata Motors car plant in Kerala, India was shut down, it was not because of the company’s workers’ lack of qualifications, but because of a series of unsafe and unsanitary conditions that were causing the plant to fail.
The workers were suffering from respiratory problems and the company failed to address them, forcing them to use dangerous and unsafe methods of breathing to maintain the safety of their lives.
Now the workers are demanding justice for them and are taking matters into their own hands.
“The Tata Motors plant in Chiraguru in Kerala has been shut down because of unsafe conditions.
The workers are suffering from severe respiratory problems, and the plant was unable to fix the problem and it has not been properly cleaned since the end of July,” said Srikant Srikandar, an organizer with the workers’ union, Vyapam Kisan Sabha.
According to an investigation by the local media, the factory’s managers failed to adequately clean the site and the workers were forced to use unsafe and unhygienic methods of breath breathing to continue to work, including pushing air in their lungs.
“This has left the workers suffering from serious health problems and many of them have been suffering from lung cancer, asthma and diabetes.
They have even lost their eyesight,” Srikanar said.
The union’s call for justice for the workers came as the government of Kerala, which has a poor record on environmental protection and labour rights, has decided to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 ($8,000) to Tata Motors, the largest car company in the country.
The Tata Motors workers were among several car manufacturers that shut down in India, and are among the first to face a court case.
In March, the Tata Cars subsidiary in Bengaluru, India’s second largest city, was shut for seven months after workers’ protests against the company and the conditions of their work escalated into an industrial action.
The company’s plant, which employed over 100,000 workers, was the worst in the world for pollution and workers’ rights violations, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“The workers’ demands have already been met, but we will continue to fight for justice and equality for all workers, regardless of their occupation, as we demand that we get our rights,” Srinivasanakam, one of the workers involved in the protest, told Reuters.