CHENNAI: The marathon, 16-hour blockade of Chennai-Bengaluru national highway by about 3,000 women workers of mobile component maker, Foxconn, ended on Saturday evening following several rounds of talks by officials.
The protest was, however, marred by chaos later in the evening, as another group of workers did not vacate the highway, resulting in them being removed by force by police. An unspecified number of workers have been booked for causing nuisance and blockade even after the main protest was withdrawn at Oragadam.
An incident of food poisoning and unavailability of details on health status of at least eight women workers, sparked the protest near Oragadam in Kancheepuram district, late on Friday evening. Protesting women demanded the district administration to bring back the hospitalised women and take action against those incharge of an hostel and dormitory, as they had supplied spoiled food to the workers.
The women said they were constrained to take to the road after their queries about the food poisoning incident and health status of their co-workers did not elicit any satisfactory response from the staff.
As the protest, which started at 9pm on Friday, started adversely impacting vehicular traffic on the highway, Sriperumbudur police rushed to the spot and tried to pacify them. They then diverted he vehicles that had piled up to 5km on either side of Sriperumbudur town through alternative routes.
As the agitators stayed put on Saturday as well, Kancheepuram district collector Arthi ordered registration of a case against the hostel warden for providing spoiled food to the workers, at 1pm. The collector also made a video call on her mobile phone and asked the eight ‘missing girls’ to speak to the agitators. Following this, the women workers wound up their protest and dispersed.
Earlier, when policemen tried to chase the agitators and restore traffic movement, the protesters raised slogans against police. Following this, inspector-general of police (north zone) Santhosh Kumar held talks and pacified them. Police said the trouble started after more than 100 inmates, who ate food at the mansion canteen last Wednesday, complained of nausea and stomach upset. They were treated at nearby government and private hospitals. Most women stayed in hospitals for two days and were treated there.
The Sriperumpudur industrial cluster of Kanchipuram district is home to a number of local and multinational companies and employs over 5 lakh male and female workers from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. More than 10,000 small, medium and multinational automobile, chemical and mobile phone and laptop component factories are operating in the region. These factories arrange mansion or hostel accommodation for their staff and provide food, too.
Watch Chennai-Bengaluru highway blocked for 16-hours due to protest by women workers