Over 2000 women workers have been protesting in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur since Friday night with the demand of disclosing the details and health condition of eight women colleagues who were admitted to the hospital with complaints of food poisoning on Wednesday. The workers have occupied the Chennai-Bengaluru highway and the incessant agitation has caused major traffic disruption with vehicles on both sides of the road were being chained for several kilometres.
The unprecedented fashion of protests had drawn huge attention from across the state and the district authorities had held talks with women to withdraw their protests. According to reports, these women are working in a private mobile manufacturing unit in Sriperumbudur. The unit employs thousands of women employees who are accommodated in a hostel near Ponnamallee, the outskirts of Chennai. The food to them is provided by the hostel, in the arrangement of the manufacturing unit.
On Wednesday, the women in the hostel were served food and of the total 5,000 women in the facility, nearly 200 of them had complained of food poisoning after consuming the food and fell ill. They were then rushed to the nearby government and private hospitals and after two days of treatment, all women, except eight, have got discharged and returned to the hostel. However, the state of the eight women have been unknown and they haven't made their return.
After knowing this, the women workers held talks with the hostel and the company and asked about the condition of the eight women. As they hadn't got any update, they had decided to hold protests against the company and hundreds of women took the Chennai -Bengaluru Highway on Friday night and began protesting against the company and with the demand of disclosing details about that eight women. The protesting women had claimed that the company didn't assure quality food and failed to produce details about the eight women workers.
The women workers had blocked the highway, leaving a major traffic disruption as it is a busy highway that connects Chennai to Bengaluru. The protests have been going on for several hours and the sudden agitation has become a challenge to the authorities and the police personnel of the district had rushed to the spot and held talks with the protesting women to take back the protests. However, they had refused to withdraw the protests and demanded the whereabouts of the eight workers.
The reports say that as the sequel of the protests, the traffic has got disrupted to the stretch of five kilometres and besides Sriperumbudur, several women have also been protesting in Puliambakkam near Chengalpattu and in Tambaram. The workers allege, "We are coming from various parts of Tamil Nadu and working in this mobile manufacturing unit. We are being accommodated at several hostels. We aren't provided with quality food and a medical system. We have been treated as slaves and the company refuses to provide leave for us to go to our hometown."
As the women workers have refused to withdraw their protests, Kancheepuram District Collector Aarthi had rushed to the spot and held talks with the women. With some reports claiming that all the eight women would have died and the company hasn't informed their family, the Collector told the protesting women not to believe in rumours. Earlier while the women workers were admitted in hospitals, Tamil Nadu Minister for Labour Welfare, Ganesan had visited them and enquired about their health. In the wake of the protests, hundreds of police have been deployed in the region as tensions escalate over the outrage and agitation.