GurgaonWorkersNews no.58 – August/September 2013
July 20, 2013
GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 58 – July/August 2013
Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of capitalist success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. At a first glance the office towers and shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young proletarianised middle class people lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts in call centres, selling loan schemes to working-class people in the US or pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door, thousands of rural-migrant workers up-rooted by the rural crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; on the outskirts of Gurgaon, new industrial zones turn soil into over-capacities. The following newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable boom region. If you want to know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project, please do so via:
In the August/September 2013 issue you can find:
*** “The system is increasingly fragile” – Conversation with Faridabad Majdoor Samachar -
In early 2013 some comrades belonging to the anti-capitalist left in Germany visited friends in India. The conversation evolves around the changes in class relations in Faridabad from the early 1980s till today and about how they transformed the political perspective and practice of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar. Read the write up of the conversation in this issue.
*** “Reflections on Marx Critique on Political Economy – A Faridabad Majdoor Samachar Publication for Collectivities, August 1997 -
“Marx’s concepts and categories have become an intrinsic part of common usage. They are also used by statist tendencies to legitimise their claims to power and to suppress the questioning of the foundations of existing hierarchical society. This text seeks to dissolve the aura that surrounds Marx’s concepts and categories. In doing it seeks to free them from the deadweight of tradition that has rendered them incapable of performing a critical function today. The readers of this text need not be acquainted with Marx’s critique of political economy. The section “Concept Notes’ has been included to facilitate an understanding of Marx’ concepts. We hope that this text will help in challenging the hierarchy of the Marx-read, polemically-literate, quotation-flinging gurus and their disciples.” Comrades have brought out a PDF version of this text for debate – see:
*** Two New Pamphlets by Mouvement Communiste -
Read new pamphlets “SOUTH AFRICA: THE PARTIAL REEMERGENCE OF WORKERS AUTONOMY” on recent struggles in the mining industry and “100 YEARS AGO: THE PHILADELPHIA DOCKERS STRIKE AND LOCAL 8 OF THE IWW” on an important experience in the history of workers’ struggle.
*** Another BRIC against the wall? – Slumps in Gurgaon -
We summarised some newspaper articles dealing with the impact of the global crisis on garment export and automobile industry in Gurgaon. On this background it is not surprising that the state and ‘developers’ have difficulties to sell their idle 50 plus Special Economic Zones to industrial investors. The state therefore thinks about expanding their official land use to real estate – good luck and never mind the bubble.
*** Short Report by Sunbeam Automobile Workers in Gurgaon -
Translation of a short report plus news on current automobile workers’ struggle in Uttarakhand.
*** Mornings in Okhla and Kapashera – Photos by a Friend and Comrade -
The photos show the industrial areas at the time when the morning shift arrives. These are two places of the monthly Faridabad Majdoor newspaper distribution.
In early 2013 some comrades belonging to the anti-capitalist left in Germany visited comrades in India. Their conversation was published in German language (Fleig, Kumar, Weber (Hg.): “Speak Up! Sozialer Aufbruch und Widerstand in Indien”; Assoziation A). Below you can find notes of a conversation with friends of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar.
Since 1982 you regularly publish “Faridabad Majdoor Samachar” What is special about the paper and who are the people it is meant for?
Once a month we print “Faridabad Majdoor Samachar” (Faridabad Workers News) in Hindi. The paper is free and it takes us 15 to 20 days to distribute it during shift-changing hours when workers go to work. We have chosen some places in Faridabad, one in Okhla and one in Gurgaon, one in Manesar. Three, four, five of us stand and distribute it, only to those who ask for it. Most of the copies are taken by industrial workers, working in thousands of factories in Faridabad and adjoining industrial areas of Delhi.
In Faridabad three-fourths of the factory workers are invisible workers, or workers who are not in the company’s records. 85 per cent are temporary workers and workers hired through contractors. The statutory minimum wages are not paid to 80 per cent of the work force. Even permanent workers are not paid wages for two-three-four-six months. Each issue of the newspaper carries articulations of workers of 50 to 60 factories on such issues. First-hand experiences and ideas of wage-workers at large of different factories, offices, research-centres, etc. make-up most of it. Over a period of time, the emphasis on self-activity of wage-workers to confront and transform the present has become a new focus. And it has a column dealing with ‘Questions for Alternatives’. We see the paper as a means of exchange for the purpose of seeking out and forging new trajectories.
How did Faridabad change since you publish the paper and live here?
I first visited Faridabad during emergency in 1976. If you look at Section 24 [part of Faridabad], at that time there used to be farming here. Faridabad is an industrial area that came up after 1947. Originally it was a new town for 40.000 refugees from Pakistan. During the initial phase from the 50s to the 60s you had a small number of factories here. Many people from Pakistan got some employment there. Then, given to the social upheaval in West Bengal in 1960s many industries shifted from Bengal to Faridabad and suddenly it became the main industrial area in North India. By the 80s you had various sectors coming up in this area, like textiles, pharmaceuticals, printing, paper mills. It was a planned city. It was situated at the National Highway No 2 and on the main railway lines to Mumbai and Chennai and it bordered Delhi.
But not an inch, not a square centimetre was planned for workers’ accomodation and living space. And this is not because the managers of the factories were naïve or fools. They were very cautious about what they are doing. They were thinking “How do you cut down the cost of manufactured goods? Do away with the housing costs, let the workers fetch for themselves.” Before 1947 you had this law, saying that before you open an industrial enterprise you have to have housing for the workers, who will be working in the factories. In the old industrial areas, near jute mills or textile mills you will still find these workers (housing) lines.
In the 70s the illegal colonies came up here. These were built on land that is registered farmland or other land. People from Bihar or UP, Jharkhand or Punjab started living here. They started building houses and in recent years large numbers of new people have arrived here. Now the workers have to settle anywhere and everywhere. The choice they get is less and less. Along railway lines you find their shanty towns, you will find them along the open gates in any vacant space built. When the state wants to reclaim that land it is all-illegal and they can demolish it.
Earlier before the State of Emergency, if we look at these old workers the idea was to go to Bombay, or Calcutta, to work, earn and come back. It was similar in Faridabad. Most who came to the area had this idea. After 75/76 what we find is, that there is nowhere to go back for them. Earlier it was mostly men who came. Now its both men and women and whole families. And we have more and more of these very young people coming up – both boys and girls, who supposedly are not having roots.Today between Faridabad, Okhla, and Gurgaon, there are two to two and half million factory workers.
Around 30 years ago was the period when you had 8 hours working time and permanent jobs. These workers could afford to buy 50, 100 square yards, on that land they built houses. The new workforce after 1990 or say 1995 are mostly temporarily. Land prices have risen expansionary. In Faridabad or Delhi, Okhla and Gurgaon workers can not even think of buying land, except for those small section of workers who are in IT industries.
What radical changes occured in the production process and what was the impact on workers in the 80s?
It was a major change in the production process happening here from1982 onwards. In the old days the workers were permanent and most workers were dirctly involved in production process. Even if you were illiterate you were made a permanent worker on the spot. In factories, ninety percent plus workers had been permanent.
Engineered strikes and lock-outs were the means used by managment in the major attacks on factory workers at the time. There is the example of the textile mills in Faridabad in 1978/79. There was a cotton mill that had 7,000 workers. The printing department had a surplus of 4,000 workers. But at that time the workers were permanent and the management could not get rid of them easily. There was a strike, there was lots of violence and the strike was lost. When we were looking at it, many years afterwards, we found out, that the 4,000 jobs have been lost after the lost strike. In weaving for example, in departments where previously one worker used to run one machine, s/he now used to run four machines, six, eight machines. It would have taken decades to reduce 4,000 jobs if it were done through slow attrition. After the lost strike it was done in one blow.
But if the workers are aware what is happening, they can subvert it. As you can see in Bata factory in Faridabad in 1983. You can multiply this example in hundreds. The factory used to have semi automatic lines for making shoes on each and every line, different stations per line, per shift. Then the management forged an agreement with the union, to have automatic lines. One thing is the line, another thing is piece rate work. On the machines the workers would make 24 hundred pair of shoes on each line. But as the workers could see the impact of automatisation, the whole issue turned into a matter of debate and refusal.
At that time, our paper was only a single sheet, 1000 copies. We had friends working in different factories and also at Bata factory. When we wrote that the agreement would mean retrenchment of workers, the factory union was denouncing some of us as anti-union people. At that time we had lots of struggles, fights. We were assaulted when we distributed our paper. In 1984 the automatic machines were installed. The union was with the management, but the workers did know what was going on. They were aware of the fact that their jobs were at stake, so instead of 2400 pieces, they did 1200, 1300 shoes. Meaning output dropped by half when they introduced automatic lines. There was no one opposing the company openly, because if you speak out openly, you are out. This battle went on for one and a half years. The company did not find any target. There was no one in the open. After one and a half years, in 1985 the company had to dismantle the automatic lines and restore the semi automatic lines.
But eventually also at Bata the workforce was cut down and now instead of the 1,000 to 2,000 workers which they used to employ, they have less than 200 permanent workers. They had gone through retrenchment. They did not hire new workers, if workers retired etc. In the Bata-Nagar factory in Calcutta the Bata Company went for lock-outs.
The 90s …
In Faridabad in the 1990s we saw electronic intervention in the production processes on a massive scale. Large scale restructuring took place in the factories. First you have the restructuring, than reengineering – so you have new halls built. New machinery being installed, new lines being set up. Old mechanical machines been taken out and CNC-computer, new machinery being installed. You had the whole production line changed. It happened in many factories. Today a car factory has become an auto hub. Instead of having one factory on one compound with heavy machinery, where you need 100,000 workers, now you just have assembly taking place with 4,000 workers in the main plant, but further 200,000 workers are spread out in industrial areas like in Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ohkla, producing parts in different factories. You have lots of different production units in varying scale. Now you find a small contingent of permanent workers and large numbers of temporary workers.
Most of the workforce consists of multi skilled temporary workers. Today the factories in Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad are largely run by temporary workers and whether it is car or any other factory, only 10, 15, 20 percent are permanent workers directly involved in production process and 80, 85 or 90 per cent are temporary workers. There are factories where not even one worker in 300 is permanent – only the staff has permanent status. And amongst the temporary workers, three-fourths are “invisible” workers. Almost 75 per cent workers in factories in the National Captial Region (NCR) do not exist in company and government records, be it garments or auto or pharmaceuticals or chemicals.
What was the role of the trade unions?
In the decade 1990 to 2000 a process between trade unions and management became more blatant: when restructuring and reengineering is on the agenda, then the management comes to sign new agreement with the union, aiming at reducing the workforce. These types of agreements existed before, but they became more blatant after 1990. Large scale retrenchment of permanent workers took place in many factories and in most of the cases unions were openly standing with management. We found factory unions functioning almost like another department of the factory. Managing workers was the job of the unions and good functioning of the factory was seen as good for the workers of that factory.
How were these radical changes reflected in your paper?
When we look at issues of our newspaper published in 1980, 1990 or even 1995 we find them ancient, not old, ancient. Much has changed since then. After 2000 a whole new workforce emerged. In India these changes have been very sudden. We covered debates in the newspapers in the 1990s of management circles in Japan which argued that having temporary workers is cheaper, but that the temporary workers have no loyalty to the company, while having permanent workers is costly. The crisis of the status quo, of market economy forces them to retrench permanent workers and to hire temporary workers – despite the obvious problems in terms of loyalty.
In the newspaper we cover the day to day activities of different workers, their daily life. We write up the experience of the worker. From when she or he gets up, what the worker does in the morning, at work, after work etc. Old workers in their 50s and young workers do different things. In these reports you get ideas about specific conditions and general conditions. We publish these longer reports once in a while, so far we have published 19 of them. What comes up is that the present is worse than the past. In certain aspects this is true because it has gone from bad to worse, but the present has this potential for a radical debate, increasing potential for that.
How did you change your ideological stand?
Our perspective has changed completely in the last 25 years and this is reflected in our paper. We used to be in favour of Maoist groups, going to rural areas and all those things. If you look at the Maoists today, there are maybe 40, 50, 60 different groupings. Some even have come to the industrial areas, speaking with factory workers, but many are still peasant based. Of them the CP Maoist fights in Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas. They stick to the 1960s period after two, three generations!
In 1988/89 when the so called Soviet Union collapsed we called it good news. We said that we could not demolish the statist tendencies, reality itself has demolished them. There might have been a glimpse of communism, you can argue about that, but it was simply not communism there. We say – start now, from current reality of the working class. Then you need this new language and new imaginary. This opens new space. From 1999 onward we stopped using words like capitalism, socialism or Marxism in our paper. For 95 percent of the population the usage of these terms becomes very difficult, as there are so many groupings using them. What we mean, we explain in the paragraph, on the front page. The reality is dealt with by everybody, with different facets. It’s a very fragile equilibrium to maintain.
The left speaks about crisis: working class movement in crisis, US crisis, India crisis, left is shrinking other forces taking over, religious groups and sects become powerful. But all these religious, national and all those forces, they have no solutions. They can cause more havoc, but they have no solutions to the social crisis we are facing. You have million strong armed forces and all these electronic and other surveillance gadgets. The system is extremely fragile and increasingly fragile. Because money and market relations are simply not able to function. An alternative has to emerge. It should have significantly an different ego than the old ideas like identity politics, religious or regional basis. Some may go back to a national basis, trying to gain from social desperation. But even that becomes increasingly brittle.
What is the outlook for the future, out of your understanding?
We have to understand, that all experiments, with all their small duration of life, are limited, that they are partial. Sometimes what is happening is, one person thinks that it the way and others should follow. That becomes problematic. The representative system that gives the reigns of 100 in the hands of 5 is ineffective today. To struggle under leaders’ directions is fatal. Activeness of 95 per cent instead of 5 per cent are necessary and so are small steps starting from where you are. Let us exchange our experiences, let us debate them and let us see the differences. Instead of clenching up debates, lets open up debates!
Today only intellectuals, groups, activists, politicians interact on a global scale. Our incentive is to make it wider, to have a global communication of workers. If we can transform the forced togetherness in the workplaces or housing areas etc. into a voluntary togetherness it would bring us one step further.
No reason to be pessimistic?
Radical groups in Western Europe and North America are often quite pessimistic, because they find most struggles in the EU etc. are just defensive struggles – saving jobs, preventing factory closures. If you are just confined to your local reality and how to deal with it, you cannot get out of your pessimism. But if you look at the wide world than you think, ‘okay, the arena has spread out’. It encompasses the entire world now. It has taken such fast dimensions.
Sometimes you hear in discussions, that the working class is not here any more. But if you go to a place like Faridabad before shift starts and see thousands and thousands of people, you think, what are these people talking about? Industrial work-force in Western Europe and North America has shrunk, yes. But if you look at the world, if you are not just confined to Western Europe and North America, in countries like India or China you will find many workers, anywhere you go in industrial areas, anywhere you go mines, anywhere you go major power plants you find many workers.
In countries like India or China the workers were very strong minorities. If you talk of ‘workers of the world unite’ this used to be more confined to workers of Western Europe and North America, at least when the slogan came up. In India at the time there were no workers in significant numbers. But if you look at it today, the whole scenario is changing very rapidly. If we look at 1830/40 then England was the work-shop of the world, then it became Western Europe, then North America. Today China and India emerged like this. Today in India you have the whole world together.
What kind of new workers’ struggles are there in India nowadays and what are the differcences to the ones in the old days?
If you are looking for the imaginary of big parties, big demonstrations, big clashes you wont find them. In Faridabd we used to have massive demonstrations, clashes with the police and police firing. If you look for workers’ struggle on that scale it is out. But today discontent is much more widespread. Companies have made security provisions, security services, managers staff and they have cameras in the workplace and still workers are doing subversive acts.
The new generation of workers is pitied as ‘poor workers’ by most people, but we look at them as radical workers. Permanent work also gave the workers some interest in status quo in the permanent job, the pension, the retirement benefit, their son my get employed in their place etc. The new workers they have no permanent jobs, instead of one workplace, they have 30 job experiences. The young workers with 10 job experiences know there is no future for them. They don’t read Marx, they don’t read Bakunin, they don’t read, they are not. (Laughing)
These new workers can be extremely destructive, they can burn down factories, they have nothing to loose. Like they did in Bangladesh, where they burnt down 50 factories. That could happen here any time. They can appear as very fragile, very precarious, poor people. But they have the clear understanding: we do not want to have a future in this. These workers have much potential for radical transformation – even with the state apparatus which has been fortified, they are uncontrollable.
For these workers to work a 12-hour shift is the norm and 16 hours is common, every day, seven days a week. The old forms of organisation, they have no space. That is why we say we need new forms of language, new types of activities and new kinds of organisational practices and not traditional unions. Also given that factory unions, where they still exist, have only permanent workers as their members, therefore 90 per cent factory workers in the National Capital Region do not fit in the union structure.
How do you see the factory occupation by workers of Maruti-Suzuki, in Industrial Model Town Manesar?
Fantastic. The Maruti-Suzuki workers deoccupied the factory in June 2011 for 13 days. First we called it occupied, but than one of our worker friends told us, that it is not an occupation, as this word is associated with hierarchies etc.. We agreed and said, yes you are right and in the next issue of the paper we covered this debate on ‘occupation vs. de-occupation’.
They were 20, 22 year old workers. 3000 workers, two shifts of workers coordinated. How they did do it we do not know. Permanent workers, trainees, apprentices and workers hired through contractors – all of them were together – fantastically. Something we had not seen in 30 years. Suddenly we found new potentialities. Today, at least with industrial workers, you find that the social arena shifts. In that social turmoil, or what we call social churning, each of us takes part. We are hopeful that the social churning brings out a new language, and a new imaginary. The new society is there, questioning technology and relationships. Whether it is where people live, whether it is at the workplace, the debates are there – the social churning is taking place. We don’t have solutions, but there are lots of possibilities!
To abolish the global work/war house will take more than informative exercise! If you live in Delhi area, please be welcomed to take part in Faridabad Majdoor Talmel – a workers’ coordination. We distribute Faridabad Majdoor Samachar on ten days each month in various industrial areas around Delhi. You can also participate in the workers’ meeting places which have been opened in various workers’ areas. If you are interested, please get in touch. For more background on Faridabad Majdoor Talmel see:
To read the text see link below:
*** Two New Pamphlets by Mouvement Communiste -
“SOUTH AFRICA: THE PARTIAL REEMERGENCE OF WORKERS AUTONOMY” on recent struggles in the mining industry and “100 YEARS AGO: THE PHILADELPHIA DOCKERS STRIKE AND LOCAL 8 OF THE IWW” on an important experience in the history of workers’ struggle. To read the texts either click gwn58_mc1 and gwn58_mc2 or visit the website of MC and click on ‘Letters’ on the left-hand side:
The political-economic situation in India remains shaky. In June 2013 ‘foreign investors’ withdrew seven billion USD from Indian equity markets, which caused the Rupee to slump from 56 to 60 Rs. What comes to the surface is the fact that the little bit of ‘BRIC boom’ is basically maintained through high interest short-term investment, while ‘production growth’ and productive investment has more or less collapsed during the last two years and ‘external debts’ are piling up: net external liabilities have jumped from 40 billion USD (5.7 per cent of GDP) in 2004-05 to 300 billion USD (16.2 per cent of GDP) at the end of March 2013. Manufacturing growth rates decelerated to 2.9 per cent in 2011-12 and to 1 per cent in 2012-13. The share of manufactured goods in total exports dropped to 61 per cent in 2012-13 against 73.0 per cent in 2004-05. This expresses itself on a local level. We summarised some newspaper articles dealing with the impact of the global crisis on garment export and automobile industry in Gurgaon. On this background it is not surprising that the state and ‘developers’ have difficulties to sell their idle 50 plus Special Economic Zones to industrial investors. The state therefore thinks about expanding their official land use to real estate – good luck and never mind the bubble.
Crisis of Garment Export in Gurgaon
On account of the ongoing financial crisis in the European countries, the garment export business in Gurgaon has gone down by around 20 percent in the financial year 2012-13. The slump is expected to double as the Euro zone crisis has started to dent the US economy, which contributes around 45 percent of the garment export business in Gurgaon. Sham Sunder Verma of Chamber of Industries of Udyog Vihar said, “When the majority of our overseas clients are caught in slowdown, the government decisions related to the logistics, rise in per unit electricity price, rise in diesel price and import of fabric has enhanced our input cost by around 20-25 percent. Therefore, we are expecting some subsidy announcement for the garment exporters of Haryana to overcome this crisis.
(Economic Times – 19th of May 2013)
Slump at Maruti Suzuki
The largest Indian carmaker, Maruti Suzuki will shut its five plants across Gurgaon and Manesar for eight days in June as it aims to adjust its inventory with the sluggish market demand. A company spokesperson said that there would be a production cut of around 5,000 cars for each of these days. Maruti had reported a 14 per cent decline in its total sales in May this year at 84,677 vehicles. While domestic sales declined 13 per cent to 77,821, exports dipped 27 per cent to 6,856 units. Maruti had produced 1.168 million cars in financial year of which 1.051 million units were sold in India and around 120,000 were exported. Despite the sluggish market conditions Maruti is going ahead with its plans to start third plant at Manesar that goes onstream around September this year and would take its cumulative production capacity to 1.75 million vehicles from the current 1.5 million units.
(Economic Times – 9th of June 2013)
Fragile State of the Automobile Suppliers in Manesar
With the major automobile manufacturers of the region reporting a slump in domestic sales, the ancillary sector in IMTManesar has begun feeling the pinch. “If you look at IMT Manesar, almost all the ancillaries here are working on less than 50 per cent of their total capacity,” said Manmohan Gaind of the Manesar Industrial Welfare Association. Over 2,000 manufacturing units are operational in IMT Manesar as of now, most of which belong to the ancillary sector. “A lot of jobs are in danger if nothing is done about this. Component manufacturers are still in business, but their financial viability is highly in danger,” he added. “Now, it’s a lean season for labour in the area, as most workers are out for the summers. The coming few months will see the labour force return to Manesar, and if the demand for auto components doesn’t revive, many people will end up losing their jobs,” the industrial official said.
(Times of India – 16th of June 2013)
Degeneration of the Special Economic Zones in Gurgaon
Back in 2006, when the special economic zone (SEZ) policy was introduced here, as usual, in glowing terms everyone in the office shared in the excitement. While today, when out of 52 approved SEZs only three are operational and as many as 29 de-notified, the mood has gone sour, and the rhetoric has turned downbeat. Reports of disputes between developers and the state government over SEZs – especially so in Gurgaon – are common enough. And most recently, as a last ditch effort to salvage the SEZ-scene of the state, the government has decided to start issuing industrial colony licenses to SEZs – enabling developers to make industrial, commercial as well as residential use of SEZ land. According to the additional director of the industry department, R C Dhara, there is an external reason that explains why SEZs have not worked. “There’s a meltdown in the IT sector. And almost all the SEZs in the state were being prepared for IT players.” “Those trying to handle the old ones are running away, why would we introduce new SEZs then?” was the rhetorical question that he asked in response to the question that everyone today is asking – ‘what now for the SEZs?’
(Times of India – 15th of May 2013)
1) Sunbeam Report
2) News of Unrest after traffic Accident on NH8, Gurgaon
3) Short report from Uttarakhand
1) Factory Report – Sunbeam Auto Worker – FMS no.291 September 2012
38/6 Kilometer Stone, Delhi – Jaypur Road, Gurgaon
In the factory 700 permanent workers, 1,000 trainees, 15 apprentices work plus around 5,000 workers [or 500? very likely a too high estimate] are hired through five different contractors for the production department, 500 workers are hired through three different contractors for buffing and filing work on piece rate plus 100 to 150 workers hired through contractor for loading and unloading work, 60 for canteen and 50 for cleaning, 25 for gardening plus many security guards, both through company and through contractors. The factory started production 25 years ago, and now 7,500 workers produce parts for Hero, Suzuki, Honda, Bajaj two-wheelers and Maruti Suzuki, Mercedes and otherfour-wheelers. The 500 workers doing buffing and filing work do not get ESI or PF, no bonus, they work between 12 and 18 hours a day, no free canteen food, the company provides tea only during the night-shift and if you get injured the company sacks you. The canteen workers work 26 days per months, 12 to 18 hours a day, earning between 2,500 and 5,000 Rs, the overtime is not paid. Only 10 out of 60 get ESI and PF, wages are paid delayed. The workers hired through contractor earn 5,000 Rs, no incentive bonus during the first year, then 30 per cent, then full bonus, but overtime is only paid single. After ten years of seniority a trainee is still a trainee, but they get double pay for overtime. The permanents, trainees and workers hired through contractor on monthly wages pay 5 Rs per meal in the canteen, the company gives 15 Rs, plus 250 to 300 Rs incentive per day. For each day that permanent workers take a day off the incentive is cut. If the trainees and workers hired through contractors take more then two days off per month their complete incentive is cut, which is 7,500 to 8,000 Rs. On the other hand, if management wants they can send workers home for more than two days per month. If workers are five minutes late they are only paid half a days wage. In 1996 there were 300 permanent workers on 1,400 to 1,500 Rs a month. Annual production was 76 crore Rs. Nowadays there are 700 permanent workers and production is 3,000 crore Rs. In 1996 there were 49 die casting machines, now there are 165. In December 1996 workers went on strike for union registration – 22 days strike, 18 permanent workers were kicked out and the union was not registered. In 1997 the company registered a union themselves and its president remained president till 2007. After a motion of no-confidence the president resigned, but the new president was like the old president – on 22nd of December 2009 the workers went on strike against the nomination of this new president, 52 days of strike, various court cases against workers, in 2011 nine permanent workers resigned and took their dues. According to a court order union elections took place on 29th of April 2012 – a new president. The company opened another plant in Bhivari, Rajasthan.
2) On the other side of the automobile crisis: Villagers block NH-8 following accident
“A high voltage drama prevailed on Delhi-Gurgaon Highway after motorcyclist died after a road accident. The angry residents of Nakhraula and Rampura blocked the highway as the deceased was of this area. They staged a sit-in protest against the highway authorities for the poor management of traffic in the area. “Our children are losing their lives on this highway as there is no one to check traffic. Cars, buses and dumpers run at extremely high speed. The government should look into the matter,” said a protester. The dharna coupled with ongoing construction of flyover made traffic situation worse and it took hours to bring the situation under control.”
(Times of India, 8th of June 2013)
3) Report of a workers’ struggle in Automotive Stamping and Assembling Limited (ASAL), a Tata vendor in Pantnagar district of Uttarakhand.
The oppression of workers continues – now in Uttarakhand
Calamity is imposed on workers, 98 Tata Asal workers in jail
On 6th of June 98 struggling Asal workers were arrested and locked up in three different district jails, they were charged with section 151, breach of peace. On 28th of May 2013 Tata Asal management had kicked out the remaining 170 trainees and replaced them with untrained workers hired through contractors. On 30th of May a workers died after an accident with a forklift. Management tried to dispose of the corpse, but in reaction workers encircled the factory. Despite the arrival of a huge police troop the angry workers stayed put. This situation lasted for eight hours, until a local official announced that the family of the deceased will receive 10 lak Rs compensation, the wife will get a permanent job and the children of the worker will receive money for their education. Management in turn announced in written form that the factory will remain closed until the present conflict is solved, the document was signed by the local officials. But management had also another aim. They wanted to reopen the factory without the old workers. The conflict also affected Tata’s main factory, where production was halted since three days. So the officials broke their own written promise of solving the conflict and instead arrested 42 workers. It later became known that the officials had followed orders which stemmed directly from the chief minister. The workers at Asal challenged the widespread practice in the Tata group and other manufacturing firms of exploiting trainees and struggled against it for six months. The labour commissioner ordered on 26th of April that Asal would have to withdraw the employment of trainees and give permanent contracts to those ‘trainee’ workers employed since two – three years. Management was displeased with this and in turn kicked out the 170 trainees on 28th of May. Five permanent workers had previously been suspended. There have only been 21 permanent workers employed at Asal, the rest were ‘trainees’. How many workers had been injured due to accidents! Now workers chose the path of struggle against exploitation and injustice.