Ahmedabad, March 3: With the workers' strike at Tata Nano plant at Sanand entering the 10th day today, the Gujarat labour department declared it as illegal and referred the matter to the industrial tribunal here for resolution.
"We issued the order declaring the strike illegal under the Prohibition of Industrial Disputes Act to both management and the union leader. If the workers continue the strike, we can issue show-cause notice and lodge a criminal case against them," said assistant labour commissioner M S Patel.
A Tata Motors official said that with the prohibitory order in place, the company hoped that normalcy will return. "Today we received an official order from government prohibiting the strike and workers were also given a copy of the order but no discussion could take place due to the time issue. We believe normalcy will be restored tomorrow," a company spokesperson said.
The labour department has referred the matter to the industrial tribunal to decide if suspension of 28 workers was justified and if the striking workers should be paid wages. Some 420 workers at the plant went on strike on February 23 demanding reinstatement of suspended workers.
The company had first suspended two workers for indiscipline, and 26 others later when the protesting workers allegedly damaged new vehicles inside the plant. Shah said an inquiry was being conducted to find out who damaged the cars.
"The workers are demanding reinstatement of suspended workers, but from our side the concern has been damage done to some of the vehicles....there cannot be compromise on safety, productivity and discipline," Shah said.
Harpalsingh Zala, spokesperson of striking workers, said, "We have received the letter but have not yet decided whether to call off the strike.
The matter is under discussion." The Nano plant, which was originally to be set up in West Bengal, was later shifted to Gujarat. The company recently scaled down production of Nano cars to 2.5 lakh per year and announced plans to produce other models at the plant.