Sacked “for starting a union”

13 February 2012: Lakshmanan Bhaskaran worked for DHL Worldwide Express in Chenna, India, for three years without any difficulties.

His problems started in 1998, the year he founded a DHL workers’ trade union.

“From that period onwards management had a problem with the union office bearers, particularly me,” Lakshmanan states.

In 2003, he says, “While I was discharging my work with utmost satisfaction, there came a shock and surprise…a letter from the management stating I was discharged from service. The letter contained unwarranted and imaginary allegations.”

The company, Lakshmanan alleges, made accusations to the police and to a newspaper that he had engaged in illegal activities. He says the police later dismissed the case, and he went on to win a case for illegal termination of employment in the Chennai Labour Court. The company has filed a counter petition, while he has filed a suit for damages over the criminal case accusation.

For four years Lakshmanan lived on money collected by the union from DHL workers. Then, in 2009 the ITF helped him travel to the USA, Germany and London to organise support for the union.

“After attending the meeting in London February 2009, they (the ITF) set up a temporary project to organise the global union in India," he explains. “In the first phase of the project, I have started the global union (DHL Employees Union, DHLEU) in India. So far 100 members have joined here.”

Lakshmanan concludes: “I was with DHL for nine years, but they dismissed me in a matter of seconds stating that management had lost its confidence in me. Nobody believed me. But the ITF, despite never knowing me, offered me a logistic organiser position, which is really a great thing for me and for the workers here.

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