Gurgaon is a satellite town in the south of Delhi, situated in the state of Haryana, with about 2,200,000 inhabitants. Haryana was one of the Indian states where the impact of the Green Revolution (`industrialisation of agricultural production´) was most severe. On the background of the agricultural changes, industrialisation in Gurgaon started in the early 1980s with the opening of the Maruti car plant. During the last decade Gurgaon became an industrial hub characterised by the automobile sector, by the textile industries, by call centres and increasingly by biotech, agro and pharmaceutical industries.
The state and private development companies such as DLF enforce the political and infrastructural frame-work for the rapide development. Additional to the already existing textile, automobile and IT parks a new Special Economic Zone is in the making, alledgedly comprising 200,000 future jobs. The investment flowing towards the industries in Gurgaon also let to a Dubai-isation of the area, the real estate and land prices rocketed, speculative capital mushrooms in form of shopping-malls and architectural arrogance. The development pulled in thousands of migrant workers from all over India, seeking jobs in the various industries, being it as contract workers in the textile mills and factories or as agents for the call centre jobs. The main companies of the automobile sector are Maruti Suzuki (cars), Hero Honda (scooters) and Honda Motor Cycle and Scooter India (HMSI). Attached to them are various multi-national suppliers, like Delphi, Bosch and other, mainly Japanese companies. Most of the metal sheed and second and third-tier supplying work is done in work-shops in Faridabad, an industrial town situated about 40 km in the east of Gurgaon.
The policy to recruit mainly non-local workers has been used as a strategy to undermine workers` power in case of unrest. The textile sector is export orientated. There are various major export companies, such as Orient Craft, which have several factories in and around Gurgaon. They heavily rely on contract work, as well.According to the chief minister of Haryana Gurgaon is the biggest call centre hub in India and therefore in the world. Fact is that about 150,000 to 200,000 young people work in call centres, phoning mainly for US and UK based companies, such as American Express, Citibank, Dell, IBM. The call centres are often located right next to car or textile plants, which might have an impact on future workers` struggles (for more information on call centres in Gurgaon see newsletter no.1).
In terms of workers` struggles Gurgaon became known when police attacked a demonstration of Honda (HMSI) workers in July 2005. Previous to that there have been various conflicts at Maruti, mainly in consequence of the company trying to down-size the number of permanent workers. Since 2006 it were first of all contract workers who took the initiative of struggles, often without being represented by an official union. After the experience of the lock-out and brutal repression at HMSI, most of the subsequent struggles have been short wildcat actions combined with factory occupations. In May 2006, immediately after a five day occupation at Hero Honda by 3,000 contract workers, tools were laid down in the supplying plant of Shivam Autotech. Since than there have been similar situations at HMSI and Delphi. For further up-dates on the situation in Gurgaon see monthly newsletters.