Anticipating some severe punishment in the case, AICCTU state working committee meeting was held in Coimbatore on December 1 which decided to get prepared for any eventuality. After the meeting, a meeting of Pricol vanguards was held which decided to gather in large numbers to protest the TN government’s apathy in dealing with the havoc caused by floods and to condemn ensuing punishment for their co-workers.
CPI(ML) and AICCTU staged immediate protests in many parts of Tamilnadu on the day the verdict was delivered, December 3, and many workers in the state were detained for picketing and demonstrating without permission and released later. A militant demonstration held in the evening after the EIGHT were taken to the jails, vowed to fight against the offensive on workers’ right to protest. As soon the news of the sentence reached the workers who were on duty they stopped work for a while. In Chennai, in spite of lashing rains, worker vanguards managed to get organized themselves and staged a protest in Ambattur.
On December 4 a press meet was held in Coimbatore which was addressed by AICCTU national vice-presidents Comrade Swapan Mukherjee and Comrade Shankar along with Comrade S Kumarasami. The press meet also condemned the criminal negligence of TN government in dealing with the floods.
On December 5, Comrade Kumarasami, along with Pricol Workers’ Union and AICCTU office-bearers visited the families of those sentenced to double life. They were invited for the general body meeting of Pricol Workers’ Union that was planned on December 6.
The general body meeting held on December 6 saw a solid attendance with men and women workers who were both worried and furious about the sentence meted out to their fellow workers. The general body decided to take all out efforts to get their co-workers released and to fight against the onslaught of workers’ right to organize and protest. The general body also decided to take care of the families of workers who were sent to jails. The general body decided to release 50,000 stickers demanding Justice for Pricol Eight and a booklet on the campaign.
On December 7, Pricol vanguards set out to collect relief materials and fund for those affected by floods and Chennai and mobilized over Rs.5 lakh in next few days.
CPIML, TN gave a call to observe ‘Save People, Save Democracy’ day on December 8, demanding immediate flood relief work and condemning attacks of workers’ rights. On December 8 a demonstration in the Pricol gate was held demanding immediate relief measures for the flood affected. CPIML, AICCTU, AIARLA, RYA, DAA and AISA organized many protests all over the state on December 8.
On December 9 Pricol workers held a demonstration in Pricol gate demanding Justice for Pricol Eight.
A meeting of TN leaders of CTUs was held on December 10. The meeting condemned the attack on the workers’ rights, which has taken a concrete form of double life sentence and passed a resolution to express solidarity for the struggles of Pricol workers. It also released a joint press statement.
In mid-December AICCTU center decided to conduct ‘FREE PRICOL EIGHT’ campaign from January 1 to February 15. It was decided to observe January 18 as SOLIDARITY DAY at the national level. This call was implemented in Tamilnadu with all the strength of AICCTU. In the last week of December 2015 50,000 stickers were released and distributed all over the state. In the last week of December AIPF, TN released a press statement demanding justice for Pricol Eight.
On January 6, CPI(ML)-AICCTU Chennai launched a signature campaign demanding Justice for Pricol Eight. S P Udayakumar of PMANE launched the campaign with the first signature. The meeting decided to collect one lakh signatures from workers in Chennai and Sriperumbudur. Hundreds of workers participated in the meeting.
On January 9, CPIML held a public meeting in Coimbatore to release the campaign booklet. Comrade G Ramakrishnan, State Secretary, CPIM released the booklet and Comrade N Periasamy, CPI MLA received it. Leaders of CPIM and CPI condemned the harsh punishment meted out to the workers’ leaders and called for a strong solidarity movement of the workers of the state to get the EIGHT released.
On January 18, demonstrations and street corner meetings were held all over the state to express solidarity for Pricol EIGHT.
A public meeting was held on January 27 in Sriperumbudur in which workers from Hyundai and its subsidiaries participated in large numbers. Signature campaign was also taken up before and after the meeting.
On January 31, Hyundai workers held signature campaign during their meeting for wage revision.
On February 5, a demonstration was held in Tiruvottiyur, Chennai’s hub of big Industries. Worker vanguards from MRF, Carborundum, Enfield India, Hinduja Foundaries and Ashok Leyland participated in the demonstration.
From February 6 to 10, Comrade Kumarasami met Pricol workers in different groups and explained the legal measures being taken for the release of EIGHT. He also detailed them about the solidarity initiatives taken by AICCTU in other states.
Workers of Hyundai, TIDC, Gymkhana Club, Shanti Gears, OLG, Child Trust Hospital and other factories affiliated to AICCTU are in the process of mobilizing Pricol Workers’ Solidarity Fund. AICCTU vanguards are also approaching the organized workers of Coimbatore and Chennai seeking solidarity.
Pricol workers are continuing with their solidarity protests in support of the strike of state government employees on February 8 and demanding release of JNUSU president on February 9.
Legal measures to get the EIGHT released are also being expedited.