GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 22 (January 2010)

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 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 uprooted by the agrarian 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, Asia’s biggest Special Economic Zone is in the making. 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:

http://www.gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com
gurgaon_workers_news@yahoo.co.uk

In the January 2010 issue you can find:

1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective

*** Garment Export Workers’ Reports and Escapist Hopes of the Export Regime -
These reports were told by workers during the distribution of Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar in autumn 2009. Most of the workers are employed in textile factories – some of them working for major companies such as H&M, GAP or Calvin Klein. The textile export companies announced in December 2009 that the market is back on track and that exports to the US and Europe are growing again: an upswing in orders, but also an even greater pressure on prices.

2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area

*** Rico-Strike and the Aftermath: When Capital wants to ‘De-Risk’… -

* Aftermath of the Rico strike -
We start with a report given by a permanent worker employed at Rico, published in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar. This is followed by a general summary of the disputes’ aftermath, e.g. the announcement of Rico company to ‘de-risk’ their position in the global supply chain by opening additional production capacities.

* Never Mind the Aftermath, here is the Prelude: Unofficial Action at Napino Auto and Electronics Ltd -
This wildcat action happened shortly after the Rico dispute was officially finished in mid-November 2009: workers of parts manufacturer for Hero Honda and Suzuki react to managements’ bullying by strike action and raising demands – the strike spreads from Manesar to Gurgaon and Haridwar plants.

* Anger on the backdrop of a boom: Short Reports of Workers employed by Automobile Suppliers -
The Indian car industry is hit by an over-stretched supply-chain and a shortage of parts endangering the current holy boom – or at least the temporary upswing. Suzuki announces it will add further capacities to the main assembly plants in Gurgaon. We publish four short reports by workers employed at different Suzuki suppliers – voices from the bottom of the boom, voices of the future risk.

*** Hell’s Bells: Call Centre and Workers in Global Movement -
It seems that with the crisis a final push of global re-location of call centre and IT related services is taking place. IBM announces thousands of job cuts in the global north while adding 5,000 jobs to its India centres. Although the interview with Convergys workers reveals that the call centre Mekka Gurgaon is not left untouched by the slump either.

* Struggle at Wipro in Romania -
After Alcatel in Timisoara (Romania) threatened to shift a third of the work-force to the Indian company Wipro, workers started to get agitated. Wipro is one of the major call centre employers in Gurgaon.

* Interview with Convergys Call Centre Workers in Late Summer 2009 -
Short chai chat with workers employed by Convergys in Gurgaon, talking about impacts of work and crisis on life and physical health.

* From BPO to Riot – Proletarian Students in NOIDA clash with Police -
A faked BPO company took money for employment from some students in NOIDA, a neighbouring satellite-town of Gurgaon. When the students noticed the scam they did not allow the company owners to move out of the building until the outstanding money was paid – and the student-workers were attacked by the cops.

3) According to Plan -
General information on the development of the region or on certain company policies

*** The Real Estate of Urban Wasteland -
The financial crash in autumn 2008 and the more recent payment crisis in Dubai sent shockwaves affecting not only the housing market, but also the financial fundaments of many industrial and urban infrastructure projects. We give some snap-shots of the real estate of crisis in and around Gurgaon. Focus is on the planned ‘Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor’ – a major development-axis for capital in India.

* Public-Private Tsunami from Dubai to Gurgaon -
The real estate sector is an indicator for the wider economy: house prices have crashed since 2008, but despite the low mortgage interest rates the sales are in no way sufficient to pull the sector back on track, stocks of empty concrete are piling up – what does that mean in a semi-private city like Gurgaon where infrastructure is part of the deal? We have a look at empty spaces and de-railed private metro projects.

* Accumulative Axis of Evil: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor -
The actual necessity for the Indian export plans to build a freight rail connection between the automobile/textile factories in Delhi and the Mumbai sea port turned into a project of wish/harmful megalomaniac thinking: the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. We give a short presentation of 1,500 km of “high impact/market driven nodes” and “transparent and investment-friendly facility regimes”.

* Mariginal Living, Marginal Deads – Slum demolition and National Highway -
Sad news about victims who lose homes or even life on the altar of speed, on the highways towards social impasse.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** After 30 years of hardcopy now soft-version online: Faridabad Majdoor Samachar -
You can find an English translation of the Hindi monthly workers’ newspaper from Faridabad:

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/

Some of their older texts have now been published online:

http://libcom.org/library/questions-alternatives

*** Glossary -
Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.

1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective

*** Garment Export Workers’ Reports and Escapist Hopes of the Export Regime -

These reports were told by workers during the distribution of Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar in autumn 2009. Most of the workers are employed in textile factories – some of them working for major companies like H&M, GAP or Calvin Klein. The textile export companies announced in December 2009 that the market is back on track and that exports to the US and Europe grow again.

Economic Times on 1st of December 2009:
Orient Craft – one of the biggest textile export company in India employing several ten thousand workers in Gurgaon alone – now opens another plant in Bhilwara in Rajasthan – a rather ‘deserted’ place. “Sitting at its Gurgaon headquarters, Orient Craft CMD Sudhir Dhingra says the new Bhilwara plant was necessitated by the surging demand from the US and Europe, and will produce 250,000 units a year. The company’s order-book has grown 15-20 percent in the past few months”.

A month later, we can find a different perspective on the ‘order-boom’ from the global north: more orders, but the pressure on prices increased even more.

Economic Times on 3rd of January 2010:
“Overseas buyers negotiating fresh contracts for the coming season are pressing for further discounts on already low prices, forcing textile firms to refuse some bookings. Gokaldas Exports Ltd explained that clients who would earlier buy a shirt at $8 want to pay only $6.5 now. “We can’t sell it at that price,” a manager said. “We need an upturn in the psyche of the US and European buyers in the coming year so that they go back to buying more premium brands because though volumes have risen, it is mostly in the lower-end of product lines which have lower margins.” Sudhir Dhingra, managing director of Orient Craft Ltd, said an order for around 1.8 million pieces of garments from Gap India, through which US-based Gap Inc. routes its imports, fell through last week because the Indian exporters involved in that deal couldn’t sell at the low rates quoted. Some export firms are even looking to replacing existing clients with new ones to capitalize on the recovering demand”. As if it were about the right choice of partners on the market…

Crisis induced escapist hopes in the textile sector’s management – on escapist tendencies in the automobile sector see article on Rico strike in this issue. If there is an escape it will be the productive escape of living labour leaving this rat race – and we have all reason to:

Coca Cola Worker
(276 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
Out of the 250 workers in the plant 150 do not get ESI or PF. Those of these 150 who have been hired recently get 2,500 Rs, those who work since ten years get 3,500 Rs. We work from 6-7-8am till 8-9-10pm. Over-time is paid at single rate.

Dhir International Worker
(299 Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
Out of the 1,000 workers only 10 to 15 workers get ESI and PF, those in the sampling department. The threat cutting workers get 2,800 to 3,000 Rs. The other helpers get 3,774 Rs. Each month 200 to 300 Rs get embezzled. They do not give you the annual bonus. You work 100 to 125 hours of over-time each month, but they pay at single rate. When the inspector came on 30th of October 2009 the factory was spick and span. The management said: “If they ask then say that there is no over-time, or only two hours a day paid at double rate. And say that a doctor comes for health checks”. They showed a box with medical equipment to the inspector and removed it again after he left. There is no canteen in the factory.

http://www.indianexporters.com/dhir-international-pvt.-ltd.-com-555568722.html

Eastern Medikit Worker
(Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The casual workers in the factory work 12-hours shifts. The over-time payment of August was not paid by 30th of September 2009. Even after three years of employment as a casual they don’t pay you a bonus.
(292 Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
The 100 permanents work 8-hours shift, the 300 casuals on two 12-hours shifts. The over-time payment for the casuals is 15 Rs an hour. The casuals do not get the company bonus. The wage slip does not tell how much money is deducted for ESI or PF, the casuals get 3,110 Rs without further information.

http://www.zapconnect.com/companies/index.cfm/fuseaction/companies_detail/eregnum/3005344564.html

Evergreen Leather / GAP Worker
The factory is situated in Dundahera. The workers produce leather jackets for GAP. No worker gets ESI or PF. The main factory is in Udyog Vihar Phase 5.
lea@evergreengroups.com

Gaurav International Worker
(506 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The managers swear at us a lot. PF dues are cut from wages, but when workers leave the job they get no fund money, the company does not even fill in the PF form.

http://www.nafabs.com/

JAK Group Worker
(566 Udyog Vihar Phase 4, 344 and 356 Udyog Vihar Phase 6)
There are 700 workers employed in the three factories, working day in day out from 9am till 1am. You work 200 to 215 hours over-time, paid single rate, normally 20 hours get embezzled. Ninety per cent of the workers are male, ten per cent are female. May be 20 per cent of the male workers get ESI and PF. If the inspector comes the rest of the workers are kicked out of the factory beforehand – and this day they do not get paid. The wage of the female helpers is 2,600 to 2,800 Rs, the male get 2,800 to 3,150 Rs.

Kailash Ribbon Worker
(403 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The newly hired helpers are paid 3,000 Rs. They get neither ESI nor PF.

http://business.zibb.com/profile/kailash+ribbon+factory+ltd/in/gurgaon/124001/26136166

Ridhima Overseas Worker
(662 Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
There are 150 workers employed in the sampling, cutting, finishing, packing departments. The manufacturing / tailoring takes place in a different factory. Only three women workers out of the 150 get ESI and PF. The helpers get 2,800 to 3,600 Rs the sampling tailors get 5,000 to 5,500 Rs. The Septemnber wages have not been paid yet – on 31st of October 2009. When we asked for wages the general manager sweared at us and kicked three workers out the job – on 28th of October 2009. There are 50 to 60 hours of monthly over-time paid at single rate. The over-time of July, August, September has not been paid yet. There are insects in the drinking water, some workers fell ill. The toilets are dirty. If you leave the job they do not pay you the outstanding wages – or they pay too little. They pay the police in order to make them threaten you.

http://www.trademart.in/RidhimaOverseasPrivateLimited.htm

Krishna Label Worker
(162 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
They pay the minimum wage, but instead of 8 hours a day they make us work 9.5 hours for it. They did not pay the DA for July onwards. There is lack of drinking water. The tanker arrives late. If they sack you they don’t pay the outstanding wages.

Crew Bos Products / CK Worker
(199 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
We have not been paid our September wages yet – on 31st of October 2009. We work 70 to 90 hours over-time per month, they pay at double rate, but the over-time for August and September has not been paid. They produce leather goods for CK here.

http://www.hotfrog.in/Companies/Crew-Bos-Products

Modelama Export Worker
(105 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
I was kicked out of the big factory on 4th of September 2-009 after having clocked in 5 minutes too late. I went to the factory again and again, but I still have not been given my August wages – on 30th of September 2009.

http://www.modelama.com/

Orchid Overseas Worker
(128 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
Out of the 500 workers in the factory 150 are on regular wages, the others are on piece rate. We work 70 to 80 hours over-time per month, they pay less than single rate: 15 Rs per hour. Here we produce stuff for Spirit, PS and Next.

http://www.orchidoverseas.net/home.html

Poddar Export Worker
(637 Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
The helpers get 2,700 Rs, working 12-hours shifts is normal. ESI and PF is cut from the 500 workers’ wages, but when you leave the job the company does not fill in the PF form.

http://www.poddarexports.com/company.php

Polypack Worker
(194 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The 50 workers who are hired directly by the company get the annual bonus, the 450 workers hired through contractor do not get it. The helpers get 3,500 Rs.

http://www.indianexporters.com/NAV-SHIKHA-POLYPACK-INDUSTRIES-PVT-LTD-com-555548234.html

Rakheja Enterprise Worker
(A-74 Udyog Vihar Phase 4)
The helper in the factory get 2,600 Rs, the skilled workers getv 120 Rs for an 8-hours shift. Work starts at 9:30am and finishes at 8pm. Over-time is paid at single rate. Out of 350 workers 10 get ESI and PF. The drinking water is bad. The bosses swear.

http://rakhejaenterprises4131_ww.indiabizclub.com/

Radnik Worker
(215 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
We work 100 hours over-time per month. They make you sign that you get double rate, actually they give less than single rate. They say: “If somebody asks then say that you get double rate. Otherwise the factory will close down. We have so many factories here, in NOIDA, in Okhla, therefore it does not matter to us when we close down one of them. But you workers will be in trouble”. There are 500 workers in the factory, but only 50 to 60 older workers get ESI and PF. When we ask for it they say: “We would have to cut 13.75 per cent from your wages. How much money would be left for you”? If they make us stay till 2am they give us 18 Rs for food in the canteen. The food is not right and it does not fill your belly. It is daily practice that the guard at the gate threatens you with calling goons.

http://www.radnikexports.com/

Richa / GAP Worker
(239 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The daily working-times are from 9am till 11pm. Only the first two hours of over-time are paid at double rate. The workers hired through three different contractors who cut threads, fit buttons or accesoirs are only paid single rate and don’t get ESI or PF. We produce stuff for GAP.

http://www.asklaila.com/listing/Delhi-NCR/Gurgaon/Richa+And+Company/05YYFja1/

http://wikimapia.org/9975087/UNIT-239-RICHA-CO

Sani International Worker
(330 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
We work from 9:30am till 9pm, when they force us to stay till 10:30pm they give us 10 Rs for food, if we have to stay till 2am we get 20 Rs. Over-time is paid at single rate. We manufacture goods for Premima. The workers hired through contractor don’t get ESI or PF. There is no canteen. The toilets are dirty.

Sargam / H&M Worker
(153 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
There used to be 500 workers in this factory, now there are 300 left. The bosses swear at us a lot and they like to sack people or sent them home unpaid. Even if they make us stay till 5am they won’t give any money for meals. You work 70 to 150 hours of over-time per months – but at some days they just send you back home, so the over-time gets lost. They pay the minimum wage, but each month 200 to 500 Rs get embezzled. They paid the Diwali bonus, but of that 200 to 400 Rs disappeared, as well. The toilets are bad, there is no water and no lock – people have to cue up.

http://www.sargamexports.com/contactus.htm

Shan Export / Sign Impex Worker
(254 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
There are 1,000 workers employed in the factory, as many as in the other two plants in 330 Phase 2 and 463 Phase 3. Only the middle-management is hired directly by the company. We work from 9:30am till 10:30 pm, often till 2am – about 125 hours of over-time per month. They did not pay the 74 Rs of July 2009. They cut money for ESI and PF, but they issue no cards and do not cash out fund money. They swear a lot at you – that is the rule in export factories. If you work till 2am they give you 20 Rs for food. You have little time to go to the toilet, there is always a queue. There is no canteen.

Shivank Export Worker
(671 Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
We work from 9am till 7:30pm. The helpers get 3,000 Rs, the skilled worker 140 Rs for 8 hours. Out of the 1,000 workers 10 get ESI and PF.

http://www.indiabizleads.com/INSearch/HARYANA/SHIVANK_UD_189806.shtml

SS International Worker
(821 Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
The helpers get 2,500 Rs – now they say that we will pay 2,800 Rs. The tailors get 125 Rs for 8-hours shifts. Work starts at 9:30am, normally it finishs at mid-night. Often we have to work till 2am or even 8am. Amongst us 200 workers no one gets ESI or PF. They give us two half-hour breaks for eating, there is no break for drinking tea. The over-time oayment is delayed. There is only one tap for 200 workers to get drinking water. manager swear at us a lot.

http://www.gurgaonproperties.net/directory/yellowpages/yellowpage-detail.aspx?id=9216&name=Sunkem%20Industries

Viva Global Worker
(413 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The DA is paid with six months delay. Only after two months of employment you are registered for ESI and PF. The behaviour of the seniors is not good, they swear at people.

http://www.vivaglobal.com/

2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area

*** Rico-Strike and the Aftermath: When Capital wants to “De-Risk”… -

* Aftermath of the Rico strike -
The following report of a Rico worker is part of a longer article published and distributed in Hindi in FMS no.227. Apart from the Rico dispute the article documents a workers’ struggle in Gorakhpur and asks general questions about how to organise.

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/2009/12/gorakhpur-and-gurgaon-some-questions.html

Based on conversations with a permanent worker, Rico Auto Industries, 38 kilometer Delhi-Jaipur National Highway, Gurgaon:

“It’s a big factory. After casting in iron and aluminum through machining, various parts of vehicles are made. The company has factories in Ludhiana, Dharuheda, Manesar. Rico Auto, Continental Rico, Magna Rico, FCC Rico…In these factories, work of Hero Honda, Maruti-Suzuki, Honda, Ford, General Motors etc is done. Work has to be performed standing and after 8 1/2 hours duty, they force you to keep working. Even on weekly rest day, shift workers have compulsory duty. Payment of overtime is at single rate. They keep increasing the production target and for not completing the production target, they harass us. Wages are said to be 5,500 but really 4,200 are given. Basic wages are low and there are various allowances. Leave Travel Allowance (LAA) money is cut from the wages each month and given at the end of the year when LAA is supposed to be provided by the company. In the canteen, bad food for more money. No arrangement for transport. Despite many efforts, workers get tired of asking but many of the permanent workers also are not given ESI card. In this situation, permanent workers keep quitting jobs and new ones become permanent. ITI & MSC are taken as trainees. Permanent workers are 2,000 to 2,500. Through 2 contractors, as many as 2,500 workers have been hired. I don’t know about their condition…To overcome their difficulty, permanent workers put in 1,000 rupees each, that is 20 lakh rupees collected and joined the union. The big leader of the union converses with the Chief Minister-Prime Minister. In August, things started heating up. On September 21, when the company suspended 16 permanent workers, then no permanent worker entered the factory.

Workers hired through contractors also stayed out. Workers sat at the factory gates all day, even cooking their meals there. Leaders came to give speeches. Company hires new people. Production goes on. Goods enter and leave the factory. Sec. 144 forbids a gathering of 5 or more people at a place. Stay 50 meters away from the gate. Police took away the tents and mats. Arrests and bail. In support of unions in Sunbeam and Rico factories many unions together held a big meeting on September 25th. Normal production continues in other factories of the company. Due to prolonged time and the Diwali festival on the 17th, there were a smaller number of workers at the factory gate. The company organized an attack on October 18th in which a worker died and many were injured. Unions called strikes in 50 factories on October 20, 80-90 thousand workers did not work. Work came to a standstill for three days in the factory. One boss was beaten. Leaders did not allow the National Highway to be blocked. The company gave 5 to 10 lakh rupees to the family of the dead worker. No arrest in the murder case. Though the Labour Department-Chief Minister got negotiations started between the Management and union on Oct. 22nd. The Company restarted production in the factory through new hires on October 23rd. Negotiations are continuing. Leaders are keeping all things to themselves. This time they are not telling anything to the workers because… In 1998, when an attempt was made to form a union, the leader had sold out, we don’t know what is there in the demand notice, what the conditions are…Production is continuing in the factory. Pressure on the company is decreasing…Conversations-negotiations are on. Workers hired through contractors have dispersed. Where can we permanent workers go? Despair, full of rage, enraged. This week something is bound to…Union has started a relay-hunger strike from November 2nd”.

This is a worker’s voice when the dispute was still on. Shortly after union and management came to an agreement on 5th of November 2009. As per the agreement, out of the total 16 suspended workers, the management has agreed to revoke the suspension of eight, while one worker will be absorbed after one month. Seven workers will be investigated by State (Haryana) Labour Department. Management spokespeople said incentives and other issues like salary increase will be decided, after comparing with those of other leading companies located in and around the Gurgaon-Manesar area. At Sunbeam Auto – the other major disputed hot-spot dring autumn – losses of about Rs 65 crore for this financial year were attributed to the strike.

Legal Aftermath

Only after the dispute it shows that the legal system worked as ususal – against the workers. We can see how Rico management ‘prepared’ the lock-out.
The company announced a lockout on the morning of 21st of September 2009.
Workers who arrived for the morning shift found the gates locked and around three dozen policemen and between 200 and 250 private security guards-some equipped with firearms, others with sticks-were inside the facility. According to a labour official, around 150 security guards were inside, mostly hired locally.
At 3pm, the company verbally communicated that 16 workers had been suspended for instigating workers to go slow, while the rest could rejoin work the next day. In the conciliation meetings that went on through the night, workers argued that they had met weekly production targets, so the suspensions could not be made on that ground. No show-cause notice was served on the suspended workers, which was illegal.
The company was prepared for the confrontation. Four days before declaring a lockout, it filed for an injunction in court not to allow workers to strike within 200m of the factory, which the court limited to 50m. This is the general practice of all managements in Haryana when they want to have a showdown with workers.
After the violence, the Rico management chose to file the first information report through one of their security guards; two workers were arrested for the murder while the private security guards disappeared. While all of Rico’s complaints to police have been registered as first information reports, those filed by the strikers have not been accepted by the police.

De-Risking

It is one thing to use the legal repressive apparatus against individual workers – a paper tiger in the end. The main problem is that capital cannot escape from a socially more and more spread out labour force. The Rico strike showed the supply chains are global. Automobile companies in the global north sourced 3.6 billion USD worth of parts from India between March 2007 and March 2008, compared with 330 million USD a decade ago. Now Rico and Honda management talk about ‘de-risking’ and ‘re-location’ – a myth of an escape from the living.
In the press in November 2009 Rico Auto management announced that it will set up two new plants outside Haryana. A Rico spokesperson said that the move was in line with a demand raised by key customers who were affected by the 45-day strike at its Gurgaon factory. “They want us to de-risk our operations to ensure uninterrupted supplies in case of any labour or industrial dispute in future”. Rico’s major production comes from Haryana while also has some new facilities created in Uttarakhand and at Sanand where Tata Motors’ Nano car project is coming up – just for demonstrating the global character: 15 percent of the value created of a Nano car is from German car parts manufacturers. In contrast to this a manager of a German company said at the recent Delhi Auto Expo that nowadays nearly 90 per cent of parts manufactured by German companies in India are sent to other national markets and production units outside of India.
In December 2009 Honda Motorcyle and Scooters announced that it could set up new plant outside Haryana. “We do not rule out the possibility of moving to the south or west, but ideally, we should stick to north India where we have a fully developed supplier base and logistic set-up. Industrial unrest is widespread in India and we can face similar problems anywhere in the country,” HMSI president & CEO Shinji Aoyama said. When asked what exactly are the factors which will determine a new location (if it moves out of Gurgaon), Aoyama said, “The key determining factor would be cordial industrial relations in the area. This is one of the important factors we will keep in mind while deciding location for a new factory”. In an interview, managing director and chief executive of Hero Honda Motors Ltd, Pawan Munjal answered the question: Labour issues have tripped up the auto industry in the last few months. Why is this happening repeatedly?
“In my view, it is purely a (labour) union-driven activity from the outside and they’re doing a huge disservice to this belt of Gurgaon, Manesar and Dharuhera. I only hope it doesn’t go the Faridabad way. I wish and I pray to the government of Haryana to take strict action otherwise it could become a huge problem”. (livemint, 7th of January 2010)

* Never mind the Aftermath, here is the Prelude: Unofficial Action at Napino Auto and Electronics Ltd -

Only days after the ‘solution’ of the conflict at Rico a spontaneous strike action was reported from a different automobile supplier in Gurgaon/Manesar industrial area…

“Gurgaon, 19th of November 2009: It seemed like a trivial incident at the time-an overzealous shop-floor manager meting out punishment to a worker for a fault on the assembly line at Napino Auto and Electronics Ltd near Gurgaon.
The worker was asked to get on a table, hold his ears, squat, and then stand up again-a form of discipline across northern India and known as the “murga” (rooster) employed mostly on errant schoolchildren by teachers and by policemen on small-time criminals.
The incident, which came to be perceived as a public humiliation, ignited the discontent that had been simmering among the 900 or so workers at the company that makes electronic parts for auto makers such as Hero Honda Motors Ltd and Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd. The workers, surprised by their own show of solidarity since there was no union history at Napino, went on a snap strike demanding action on a list of demands, including the payment of long-pending dues.
They also pushed for full overtime pay, salaried leave and, most critically, equal wages for contract workers doing the same job as the regulars. They sought a wage hike and wanted those who had been on contract for a lengthy period to be made full-time employees and thus eligible for employee benefits. Of the workforce, 852 are contract workers, 48 are permanent. Napino has a partnership with Japanese company Shindengen Electric Mfg Co. Ltd.
The uprising at the Manesar plant, 16km from Gurgaon, stalled production for two days. As word spread to other Napino units in Gurgaon and Haridwar (in Uttarakhand), workers served similar notices on the management: The Gurgaon factory was shut for two days, while in Haridwar, output was hit for a week”.
http://www.napino.com/html/corporate-data.html

Only a couple of weeks later, on 7th of December 2009, DNA business magazine reported “sporadic incidents of work disruption have again been reported from Munjal Group company, Omax Auto, over the last two days”. No wonder that the management think-tanks have to notice these developments. Some of them even recognising that the core problem is the ‘unruly nature’ of the unrepresented temp work force, which became the majority workforce of Shining India. They acknowledge the dual role of unions for the company management – on one hand an extra expense for representatives and certain distributive gains, but on the other hand a ‘negotiation partner’ valuable in times of general unrest. The probably best article published about Gurgaon industrial turmoil actually comes from a Wall Street Journal. From a social management point of view the article criticises the ‘uncooperative’ attitude of the managing class towards the representatives of workers, calling for better dialog. The following paragraphs are taken from the article, reflecting some of the union developments in Gurgaon.

“Workers of at least 35 companies in Gurgaon are now members of the Communist Party of India-affiliated All India Trade Union Congress, while the Hind Mazdoor Sabha has members in at least 38 companies.
While unions compete with each other for membership, they also realize the value of presenting a united front. About 35 of them came together in June this year to form a federation under the banner 4S, or Sanyukt Shramik Sangharsh Sangh (Joint Labour Struggle Union).
It’s not clear what 4S’ exact long-term strategy is, but its immediate goal, says secretary Harish Sharma, a Hero Honda union leader, is to build a platform for joint decisions on issues relating to suspension, termination and union registration. At least two contractors have been removed from companies for “misbehaving” with workers as a result of efforts by 4S, he said. The federation’s representatives also sit in on conciliation meetings to settle disputes.
(…)
Three weeks after filing for trade union registration, Ram Niwas Yadav, a worker at Hema Engineering Industries Ltd (Gurgaon), was waylaid by half-a-dozen men on the morning of 29 September. Yadav said he was beaten up by the men, who threatened to kill him if he did not resign from the company. As Yadav lay in hospital recovering from his injuries, the workers went on a one-day strike in protest.
In August, Hanif Mohammed, employed at Bajaj Motor Co. Ltd, was slapped several times by senior supervisors inside the factory before being forced to resign, prompting a production halt for a few hours. The incident took place a week after workers filed for union registration.
In the same month, workers at QH Talbros Ltd, which makes car steering systems, registered to form a trade union. The company’s first reaction was to transfer Mahesh Singh, a union leader, to Pune. After the factory was shut for two days owing to industrial action, it promised to reinstate him if he withdrew the papers for forming a trade union. The management eventually retracted the transfer order.
(…)
The Union government doesn’t seem to be fully abreast of the trouble brewing on this front, going by the figures. According to its records, four industrial strikes had taken place till September in Haryana, but an investigation by Mint found at least 15 labour upheavals in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt alone, each stopping work for a few hours to 52 days (see graphic).
(…)
So what’s different about this wave of trade union activity? Timing. It comes as the world is emerging from a financial crisis that marks an inflection point in its industrial development. As the world’s fastest-growing economy after China-and one that sailed through the economic crisis relatively unscathed-India is poised to become one of the powerhouses that pulls everybody else out of the trough.
Take India’s automobile sector-it’s helping to define the future of the global car industry by churning out the low-priced models that are propelling growth as markets elsewhere lose steam. It’s also one of the key fronts on which workers are fighting companies, which explains why the stakes are so high”.

http://www.livemint.com/2009/12/27233954/The-rise-of-the-new-proletaria.html

* Anger on the backdrop of a boom: Short Reports of Workers employed by Automobile Suppliers -

The Indian car industry currently experiences an upswing – due to orders from EU and to special credit schemes on the Indian market, which is likely run out in the near future. “Our sales grew 49 percent in September and 15 percent in October 2009. We would have done much better if it wasn’t for a serious parts supply constraint because of which we couldn’t ramp up quicker to meet the increase in demand,” said Karl Slym, president and managing director of General Motors India in December 2009.
The industry projects this boom into the future and adds new capacities. Despite all the talk of ‘de-risking’, the main assembly plants in Gurgaon are set up for further capacity extension. Not only passenger car maker Suzuki, but also its two-wheeler branch.

Suzuki Passenger Cars will also renovate the production facilities at its all three manufacturing units and add new capacity of at least 70,000 – 90,000 units by December 2009. A new production line is likely to be set up at the Manesar unit, which will have a capacity of 3 lakh units per year. The capacity addition is expected to be done in phases. The company has 600 acres of land in Manesar. “We can make two plants producing an additional 600,000 cars in Manesar itself,” Nakanishi said.
Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMIPL) plans to double production capacity of its two-wheeler plant in Gurgaon – news from December 2009. The company’s vice-president Atul Gupta said, “With robust demand in the past few months, we will increase our monthly production capacity to 25,000 two-wheelers by March 2010 from the current 12,000 units. “

Here some voices from the bottom of the boom, voices of the future risk – published and distributed in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar in autumn 2009.

Gautam Packaging Worker
(354 Udyog Vihar Phase 4)
The factory runs on two shifts, we produce seat belts and power window parts for Maruti Suzuki. They pay skilled workers the minimum wage for unskilled workers.

http://company.indiatradepage.com/29999/GAUTAM_PACKAGING/

Haryana Enterprises / Maruti Worker
(318 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The helpers get 3,000 Rs, neither ESI nor PF. The shifts are 12 hours each. Over-time rate is 10 Rs per hour. They produce parts for Maruti Suzuki here. People cut their hands on the power presses on a regular bases – they tell you to get private treatment and then sack you.

Logwell Forge / Maruti Worker
(116 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
Us 48 workers work in this factory since fourteen years. In August 2009 all of a sudden the company changed our permanent contracts into temp work contracts – through a contractor. On top of that 26 of us were sacked. They did not even give the gratuity payment. Now us 22 workers left have to do the work of 48 workers. We manufacture parts for Maruti Suzuki. In total there are 400 workers hired through contractor in this factory. The 74 Rs of Dearness Allowance were not paid since July 2009. We work on two 12 hours shifts. Over-time is paid at single rate instead of double rate.

Neolite / Maruti Worker
(396 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
We work from 9am till 9pm, manufacturing light-systems for Maruti Suzuki, Eicher and Tata vehicles. We used to be paid 16 Rs per hour, since July 2009 this has been reduced to 15.40 Rs. Over-time is also paid at this rate. We have to work on Sundays, too. If you take a day off, they kick you out. When they hire you, you have to work a day without being paid. If you are five minutes late they cut one hour of your wages. On one line 40 workers are employed, but there is only one fan. The heat causes a lot of distress. There is a cooler, but it does not work. If you tell them they say that the cooler stirs up dust which would damage the parts.

http://www.kellysearch.co.in/in-company-350513274.html

*** Hell’s Bells: Call Centre and Workers in Global Movement -

It seems that with the crisis a last push of global re-location of call centre and IT related services take place. IBM announces to cut thousands of jobs in the global north while adding 5,000 jobs to its India centres. Though the interview with Convergys workers reveals that the call centre Mekka Gurgaon is not left untouched by the slump either.

* Struggle at Wipro in Romania -

Romania and India are not only assembly locations for the global car Renault Logan, they are also IT outsourcing destinations. Since the onset of the crisis the re-location of IT services seemed to have taken up speed again. In January 2010 IBM announced that it create 5,000 new jobs in India while cutting jobs in Europe and the US. The company currently operates in a number of Indian cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad and Gurgaon.
In Timisoara, Romania, the French telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent announced in November 2009 that one third of the work-force will be outsourced to Wipro in early 2010. The workers then formed union to defend their rights. On 10th of November 2009 a joint-action of Alcatel workers in France, Germany, Italy and Romania took place against job cuts. In September 2009 Wipro had closed an IT research and development-centre in Sophia Antipolis, France. About 60 engineers got the sack. Wipro, Convergys (see interview), IBM and Genpact are the main call centre and BPO employers in Gurgaon.

Blog of the Wipro/Alcatel union in Romania

http://blog.sindicatalu.ro/?p=117

Article on Wipro job cuts in France

http://www.humanite.fr/2009-09-16_Politique-_-Social-Economie_Hold-up-a-Sophia-Antipolis

* Interview with Convergys Call Centre Workers in Late Summer 2009 -

Short chai chat with workers employed by Convergys, talking about impacts of work and crisis on life and physique.

Workers:
Since this recession has started, companies are not offering more than Rs. 16.000 – 17.000. Before this, they were offering Rs 20.000 plus. And apart from this they are making people to work for some more time.
If 50 companies were hiring, now only 10 or 15 companies are hiring. American Express, for example, chucked out a large sum of employees and they hired new batch, but they are paying very less to them. Even we have seen, in our company also there are a process of lay offs. Recently 50 people have been asked to leave because of the recession. They were getting very good salary. They weren’t the new people, but still they were asked to leave. The situation is not as bad as compared to US or England, it is not so bad in India. At least the people are able to manage – able to survive. And I think, as the recession is getting over very soon – another 5-6 months, things will definitely change.

Question:
Do you sometimes, in call centres here, you sell credit schemes or you have to do bank account work for US citizens? Do you realise that actually these people are in higher debts now or they have difficulties to pay their bills or they … Do you see some connection with the American people? Not as clients but as people?

Workers:
In both contexts we can feel the heat, because before this, around 2-3 months, our client was offering very high incentives. But till now the situation has changed. Previously it was easy to sell. Now people are not ready to shell any money. They are saying, “No, I am very good. We don’t want to shell any money.” So the sale has gone down. People are feeling the heat, companies are asking to make more sale, people are not ready to buy, so we are not able to earn, so everyone is suffering.

Question:
And what about your job, do you sometimes think: “Why did I bother to study? Everyone can do it”, “I am a machine”, “I’m an answering machine”.

Workers:
If we gave the same script to an uneducated person, and he learn that by heart – he could do the job. He’ll be able to do the same work that we are doing because we are so repetitive. So it is monotonous. That’s why 90% of the people are unsatisfied. Nobody wants to work in the night shift. People do feel burn out at times. Still but even if you are working with a call centre, certainly you have no better options. That’s for sure.

Question:
Does it have a physical effect on you? So what for example? If it is not too private for you.

Workers:
I lost my hair. Hair loss is one of the most common thing you can see. Symptoms you know of not getting proper sleep. Maybe losing on your weight as well sometimes. These are the basic things maybe. Hair loss is one of the major things you see and also these dark circles, these puffy eyes and all the things you can very easily correlate with call centers. Until I get another better job, I have to work. I have to do that regardless of whether I am losing my youth. I have to make money.

* From BPO to Riot – Proletarian Students in NOIDA clash with Police -

A faked BPO company took money for employment from some students in NOIDA. When the students noticed the scam they did not allow the company owners to move out the building till they paid them back.

Greater Noida on 10th of January 2010
Over eight students suffered minor injuries in a clash with the police personnel at Knowledge Park-I late last night. The students were protesting against a BPO company company.
“A company at Sector Alpha had hired some management students from a college. The students had joined on January 1. Later, they alleged that the company was fake. It had allegedly demanded their salaries as security. Last evening, the company owners and students held discussion for settlement on the college premises. The students said they would not allow the company owners to move out till they cleared their payments. A woman company owner called the police in the meantime saying that she was held captive by the students. The police had to use mild force to disperse the agitating students and take the owners out,” said a police superintendent.
Medical superintendent of the Kailash Hospital Sannil Kapoor said, “Over eight students had come with minor injuries.” The students alleged that the police was helping the company and ignoring their complaints. They said instead of talking to the college administration, the policemen took the company owners to hostel and assaulted the students with sticks. “I was standing at the gate when some policemen assaulted me with sticks. I suffered injury on the leg.” said a first year student.

3) According to Plan -
General information on the development of the region or on certain company policies

*** The Real Estate of Urban Wasteland -

The financial crash in autumn 2008 and the more recent payment crisis in Dubai sent shockwaves affecting not only the ‘housing market’, but the financial fundaments of many industrial and urban infrastructure projects. In the following we give some snap-shots of the real estate of crisis in and around Gurgaon. Focus is on the planned ‘Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor’ – a major development-axis for capital in India.

* Public-Private Tsunami from Dubai to Gurgaon
The real estate sector is an indicator for the wider economy: house prices have crashed since 2008, but despite the low mortgage interest rates the sales are in no way sufficient to pull the sector back on track, stocks of empty concrete are piling up – what does that mean in a semi-private city like Gurgaon where infrastructure is part of the deal? We have a look at empty spaces and de-railed private metro projects.

* Accumulative Axis of Evil: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor
The actual necessity for the Indian export plans to build a freight rail connection between the assembly plants of Maruti Suzuki or Hero Honda and the Mumbai sea port turned into a project of wish/harmful megalomaniac thinking: the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. We give a short presentation of 1,500 km of “high impact/market driven nodes” and “transparent and investment-friendly facility regimes”.

* Mariginal Living, Marginal Deads – Slum demolition and National Highway
Sad news about victims who lose homes or even life on the altar of speed, on the highways towards social impasse.

* Public-Private Tsunami from Dubai to Gurgaon -

Gurgaon is a financial outskirt of Abu Dhabi, its public-private urbanisation was fuelled by international financial flows. The real estate sector plays this double role of being a market for long-term goods and a money channel for large-scale investments or a haven for money to breed itself; and the sector is an indicator for the wider economy: house prices have crashed since 2008, but despite the low interest rates the sales are in no way sufficient to pull the sector back on track – what does that mean in a semi-private city like Gurgaon?

While slums are growing and dozens of homeless freeze to death in Northern Indian winter the main problem of the real estate sector is a growing stock of unsold apartments and office space. In Gurgaon, where on average 330 new ‘middle-class’ houses or apartments were sold each month between August 2009 and October 2009, it would currently take nearly two years to clear the stock – that is if no new flats were built from now on. Prices have come down quite a bit and interest rates for mortgages are low compared to 2008 – but given the current high inflation the days of cheap money are counted.

Not only the local markets are threatening the real estate developers in Gurgaon. The payment crisis in Dubai had a direct impact due to the many alliances between Dubai firms and Indian ones. Emaar Properties has a joint venture with MGF, Limitless UAE and DLF plan to invest thousands of crore outside Gurgaon and Mumbai – turning soil into concrete. In December 2009 offices of Emaar MGF were raided over alleged violation of foreign direct investment (FDI) norms: Emaar is accused of having diverted investments meant for the real estate sector to purchase agricultural land in and around Gurgaon – which is officially forbidden for ‘foreign companies’. But what is the law? In 2007, the income tax department had raided several premises of the company for alleged income tax evasion. But a mysterious fire broke out at the tax department’s Connaught Place office in October 2007, destroying all documents pertaining to Emaar-MGF’s case. Delhi Police had registered a case of sabotage, but have not been able to make a breakthrough.

The real estate crisis goes beyond the housing market, it impacts on infrastructure and the shape of the city, as well. In December 2009 India’s first private metro rail project was announced to be down. The metro would link the DLF township in Gurgaon to Noida, covering a stretch of 5km involving six stations. The land over which the metro rail lines are to be built is owned by DLF, hence even the stations that come up will be managed by IL&FS-DLF. The metro stretch was to be developed by the Haryana government, but it went to the private sector because the state government lacked the funds. Backing such projects are the ministries of roads and aviation. Kamal Nath, Union minister for roads and highways wants to award large stretches of roads and highways to parties who can fund it themselves by earning money from real estate and development on either side of the roads. If there is money to make…

* Accumulative Axis of Evil: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor -

Like with any Master Plan of capitalist development we have to be careful not to believe the hype. The inner contradictions and crisis tendencies prohibit the existing regime to ‘plan’ development in a long-term sense. Since mid-2008 the major development’ projects, e.g. the huge Reliance SEZ in Gurgaon disappeared from the mainstream horizon. Similarly India’s biggest development project – the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Ludhiana-Kolkata Freight Line. The latter would connect the eastern ports with the mining and steel-manufacturing areas in Jharkhand and Orissa and the industrial areas around Delhi. Focus of public interest is the DMIC because it is seen as India’s launch pad into the global economy. The main centre of the car and two-wheeler industry in India is situated around Delhi, meaning that this industrial centre of India is about 1,500 km away from the nearest industrial port. With increasing needs to export the DMIC is first of all a necessary rail connection to the world market, passing through the states of Uttar Pradesh, the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai. For the construction of this rail-way line the Indian government asked the Japanese state for financial and logistical support – an agreement was signed end of 2006. Since then fantasies of developers and reality of the global system went on separate tracks.

On the drawing boards of the developers the railway line turned into a 1,500 km long Garden Eden of blooming clusters and environmentally friendly industrial zones, a wish-list of development. The rail line is supposed to become the vein of a 150 kilometre wide industrial corridor: manufacturing clusters, IT-hubs, Agro-Food-Processing areas, power-plants, logistic-highways and warehouse zones, integrated town-ships, skill development centres and so on. Currently 17 percent of India’s population live inside the corridor area. Or as the developing agencies put it themselves: “High impact/market driven nodes-integrated Investment Regions (IRs) and Industrial Areas (IAs) have been identified within the corridor to provide transparent and investment-friendly facility regimes”. The whole thing becomes rather pornographic, please feel free to have a look yourself:

gwn22_capitalistporn

And of course the landed rural class will be pleased and pampered. On 12th of January 2010 the Haryana planning authority announced a new planning commission for the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) global corridor – a ‘market driven node’ of the DMIC. Deputy Commissioner Rajender Kataria, who is also the chairman of the district planning committee: “2 km on both sides of the KMP global corridor is treated as amenity zone in which some theme cities are proposed to be developed by the government. Besides, these cities, any person can set up recreational projects provided he owns 50 acres or more.” The theme cities include World Trade City in 260 hectares, Fashion City (220 hectares), entertainment (140 hectares), Leather City (280 hectares) and Leisure City in 750 hectares. While ‘Leather City’ will probably be a labour intensive export sweat-shop city in the Muslim area of Nuh in Mewat, ‘Leisure City’ will please the decadence: racing track, race course, golf course, Disney land and so on.
According to plan the corridor area would turn into India’s Shenzhen – DMIC becomes a test-case whether India can turn into a true global industrial power. The estimated investment costs are 90 billion USD. Before we have a look at the question whether the starting and finishing point of capitalist development – !money! – is able to fund this great leap forward, let’s focus on the material core of this project. We know about the role of road and track building for the ‘progressive drive’ of industrialisation. In Gurgaon the National Highway 8 connects the Suzuki assembly plants with suppliers in Manesar and the extension of the highway transported industrial units to Rewari and Rajasthan border areas. The planned rail-track would actually connect existing/emerging industrial clusters of various kinds, some of them increasingly focussed on export and therefore increasingly transport dependent:

Uttar Pradesh- Noida/
Greater Noida, Ghaziabad
(General Manufacturing)

Haryana- Gurgaon,
Faridabad, Sonepat
(Automobile, Electronics,
Handloom)

Haryana to Gujarat heartland
(Agro-Business, Horticulture etc.)
`
Rajasthan: Jaipur, Alwar,
Kota, Bhilwara, Jodhpur
(Marble, Leather, Textile)

Gujarat: Ahmedabad,
Vadodara, Anand, Bharuch,
Surat(Engineering, Gems &
Jewelry, Chemicals)

Maharashtra: Mumbai, Pune,
Nashik (Automobile, Textile, Pharma)

This is a very pragmatic logistical aspect of the DMIC. Furthermore the corridor expresses a capitalist hope: to overcome the dilemma of either ‘industrial core centres’, prone to develop a local working class powerbase, or ‘greenfield solutions’, often lacking infrastructure. The industrial layout of the corridor aims at decentralising industrial cores (using pictures like integrated town-ships, hubs etc.) while connecting them logistically. The ‘de-risking’ by shifting factories away from main clusters of proletarian unrest which companies like Rico and Honda talk about – see article in this newsletter – will see the coming up of smaller industrial areas being attached to the central assembly lines by rail- and highways. In that regard the logistical cooperation between Japanese industrial developers and Indian state is a continuation: Maruti Suzuki’s first industrial set-up in Gurgaon in the 1980s and the planning of Industrial Model Town (IMT) in Manesar down the road in 2000 were based on Japanese industrial planning aid. The ‘Japanese aid’ will be tied to railway technology and engines being sourced from Japan and further planned FDI in the corridor area. Newspapers report, for example, that in the planned Neemrana III industrial unit – situated at 122 km from Delhi on the Delhi-Jaipur highway NH8 – 19 major Japanese companies have committed to start manufacturing operations. These include Mitsubishi Chemicals, Daikin Air Conditioners and Nissin Brakes.
Question will be how helpful the Japanese state can be in terms of financial aid – given the rather precarious situation of the Japanese national economy. Work on the corridor was supposed to start in early 2008, but then investment things went a little pear-shaped. Construction was postponed – things went silent about the corridor for about two years: How to finance 90 billion USD in times of burning Babylon? The initial financial composition of the Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) was aiming at 49 per cent equity by the Indian and Japanese state in the form of Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the remaining 51 per cent equity by financial institutions and companies, the major share of 41 per cent is by IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited.

http://www.ilfsindia.com/

While we might be able to assess the economic situation of the Indian and Japanese state, what about the IL&FS Ltd. being the major ‘private’ sector investor? The IL&FS Ltd. is composed by following shareholders:

* 26 per cent by the UTI Indian Life Insurance which underwent major financial difficulties after 2001 and of which the US based equity trust Rowe Price owns 26 per cent since November 2009.
* 23 per cent by ORIX Cooperation Japan, Japan’s biggest non-bank lender. In April 2009 ORIX had to be bailed out by the government as loans to real estate companies turned bad. The company’s share price fell 77 percent in the financial year 2008 and forecast its lowest profit since 1997. Orix’s booked a 2.1 billion yen loss in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2009 as it increased bad-debt provisions (http://www.orix.co.jp/grp/index_e.htm).
* 12 per cent by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The company is said to have lost as much as $125 billion during the global economic crunch in October 2008. The 7 billion investment in Citigroup has lost about 90 per cent of its value as of November 2009, two years after ADIA acquired a major stake in the bank. (http://www.adia.ae/)

So no wonder that things went a little quiet around the DMIC. Early 2010 the Japan Bank of International Cooperation signed a loan agreement of modest 75 million USD to prepare a plan for the DMIC region; and Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) asked for bids to start work on a “Mass Rapid Transportation System between Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal, exhibition-cum-convention centre, integrated multi-modal logistics hub and new passenger rail link”. “The full-scale development of the DMIC can happen only by 2017 when the dedicated freight corridor is ready, since the industries are dependent on it for raw materials and moving finished goods. But we don’t want to wait till then, so we have identified certain early bird projects which are not full-scale city projects, but more like smaller industrial complexes,” a Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) spokesperson said in January 2010.

So the material/symbolic front-lines of class war in India for the coming years are re-drawn: the development of the industrial corridor between Delhi and Mumbai, the Operation Green Hunt in the Adivasi belt and the civil war against the rural poor, the development of the queue for NREGA employment scheme as a way to control proletarian rural-urban mobility and the Iran-India pipe-line project as a symbol for national border-conflicts and dependence on cheap energy – and probably the dikes in the Sunderbans and other areas victimised by climate/social-change . Time for abolishing corridors, borders and front-lines from below…

* Mariginal Living, Marginal Deads – Slum demolition and National Highway -

Those who live on the hard-shoulder are pushed around. On 7th of January 2010 the demolition squad of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) demolished more than 50 slum-houses near Sector 17 in Faridabad. The place where people lived is marked for the widening of the Faridabad bypass road which connects Badarpur border from Delhi side to Ballabgarh area. Bulldozers were protected by riot police.
Those who have to cross the speed-ways to get to the assembly-lines on the other side might lose their lifes. Between January 2008 and July 2009, 107 people died on the 27.7km stretch of the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway (NH8) in 1,696 accidents. When asked about this the Union transport secretary Brahm Dutt said in a media interview in December 2009 that as it was one of the first such projects undertaken by National Highways Authority of India, the agency “deserves that much of margin”. A daily commuter from Gurgaon, “Had there been enough footbridge-crossings from day one, people would not have risked their lives to cross the expressway. We had made the demand immediately after the IFFCO and Udyog Vihar flyovers were opened, but these came almost two years later”.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** After 30 years of hardcopy now soft-version online: Faridabad Majdoor Samachar -
You can find an English translation of the Hindi monthly workers’ newspaper from Faridabad:

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/

Some of their older texts have now been published online:

http://libcom.org/library/questions-alternatives

*** Glossary -

Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.

AITUC
BPO
CITU
Casual Workers
Contract Workers
Crore
DA
DC
ESI
Exchange Rate
HSIIDC
ITI
Jhuggi
Lakh (see Crore)
Lay off
Minimum Wage
Panchayat
PF
Ration Card
SP
Staff
Trainees
VRS
Wages and Prices
Workers hired through contractors

AITUC
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest trade union federation in India and one of the five largest. It was founded in 1919 and until 1945, when unions became organised along party lines, it was the central trade union organisation in India. Since then it has been affiliated with the Communist Party of India.

BPO
Business Process Outsourcing: for example of call centre work, market research, sales.

CITU
Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a national central trade union federation in India. Politically attached to CPI(M), Communist Party of India (Marxist). Founded in 1970, membership of 2.8 million.

Casual Workers
Workers hired by the company for a limited period of time.

Contract Workers
Workers hired for a specific performance, paid for the performance.

Crore
1 Crore = 10,000,000
1 Lakh = 100,000

DA (Dearness Allowance):
An inflation compensation. Each three to six months the state government checks the general price development and accordingly pays an allowance on top of wages.

DC
Deputy Commissioner, Head of the District Administration.

ESI (Employee’s State Insurance):
Introduced in 1948, meant to secure employee in case of illness, long-term sickness, industrial accidents and to provide medical facilities (ESI Hospitals) to insured people. Officially the law is applicable to factories employing 10 or more people. Employers have to contribute 4.75 percent of the wage paid to the worker, the employee 1.75 percent of their wage. Officially casual workers or workers hired through contractors who work in the factory (even if it is for construction, maintenance or cleaning work on the premises) are entitled to ESI, as well. Self-employment is often used to undermine ESI payment.

Exchange Rate:
1 US-Dollar = 43 Rs (July 2008)
1 Euro = 68 Rs (July 2008)

HSIIDC
Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation

ITI
Industrial training, e.g. as electrician or mechanic. Two years of (technical school), one year of apprentice-ship in a company. During the two years at school the young workers receive no money, but they have to pay school fees. A lot of the bigger companies ask for ITI qualification.

Jhuggi
Slum Hut

Lakh
see Crore

Lay off
Lay off in the Indian context means that workers have to mark attendance, but they actually do not work and receive only half of the wage.

Minimum Wage:
Official minimum wage in Haryana in June 2007 is 3,510 Rs per month for an unskilled worker, based on an 8-hour day and 4 days off per month. But hardly any workers get this wage.

Panchayat
A locally elected village administrative body in charge of village-level issues.

PF (Employee’s Provident Fund):
Introduced in 1952, meant to provide a pension to workers. Officially applicable to all companies employing more than 20 people. Official retirement age is 58 years. Given that most of the casual workers belong to the regular workforce of a factory, they are entitled to the Provident Fund, as well. So are workers employed by contractors. If workers receive neither PF nor ESI they also do not show up in the official documents, meaning that officially they do not exist.

Ration Card
Officially the so called ‘governmental fair price shops’ are shops were ‘officially poor’ people can buy basic items (wheat, rice, kerosene etc.) for fixed and allegedly lower prices. In order to be able to buy in the shops you need a ration card. The ration card is also necessary as a proof of residency, but in order to obtain the ration card you have to proof your residency. Catch 22. Local politics use the ration depots and cards as a power tool that reaches far into the working class communities. Depot holders’ jobs are normally in the hands of local political leaders. In return they receive this privileged position, which often enable them to make money on the side.

SP
Superintendent of Police, Head of the District Police.

Staff
In India staff includes managers, supervisors, security personnel and white-collar workers.

Trainees
In general trainees work as normal production workers, they might have a six-month up to two-year contract. Depending on the company they are promised permanent employment after passing the trainee period. Their wages are often only slightly higher than those of workers hired through contractors.

VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme):
Often a rather involuntary scheme to get rid of permanent workers. Particularly the VRS at Maruti in Gurgaon made this clear, when 35 year olds were sent in early retirement.

Wages and Prices:
When we hear that a cleaner in a call centre in Gurgaon, an industrial worker in Faridabad or a rikshaw-driver in Delhi earns 2,000 Rs for a 70 hour week, which is about the average normal worker’s wage, we have to bear in mind that they often came from West Bengal, Bihar or other remote place in order to get this job. In order to put 2,000 Rs into a daily context here are some prices of goods and services:

Housing:
- Monthly rent for a plastic-tarpaulin hut shared by two people in Gurgaon: 800 Rs
- Monthly rent for a small room in Gurgaon (without kitchen), toilet and bathroom shared by five families: 1,300 Rs
- Monthly rent for a small room in a new building in central Gurgaon, single toilet and bathroom: 4,500 Rs to 8,000 Rs

Food:
- Half a kilo red lentils on the local market: 25 Rs
- Kilo rice on local market: 14 Rs
- 1 Kilo Onions and 1 Kilo carrots on local market: 25 to 30 Rs
- McChicken: 40 Rs
- Bottle (0,7l) of beer at Haryana Wine and Beer shop: 50 to 70 Rs
- Cigarettes (10), cheapest local brand: 25 Rs
- Starbucks Coffee (Latte Medium) in Shopping Mall: 59 Rs

Utensils:
- Faulty shirt on Faridabad local market: 40 Rs
- Single gas cooker plus new 2 litre gas cylinder: 720 Rs
- Re-fill gas (2 litres – once every month and a half): 100Rs
- Second-hand bicycle: 600 to 1,000 Rs
- Two simple steel pots: 250 Rs

Transport and Communication:
- Bus ticket to nearest bigger bus stop in South Delhi: 14 Rs
- Daily Newspaper: 3 Rs
- One hour internet in a cafe: 20 Rs
- Cinema (new) ticket Saturday night: 160 Rs
- Single entry for swimming pool: 100 Rs
- One litre Diesel: 30 Rs
- Driving license in Haryana: 2,000 to 2,500 Rs
- Start package pre-paid mobile phone (without the phone) 300 Rs
- Phone call to other mobile phones: 1 Rs
- One month mobile phone flat rate: 1,500 Rs

Luxuries:
- Minimum dowry poor workers have to pay for the marriage of their daughter: about 30,000 Rs (80,000 Rs more likely)
- Money given to poor labourers for their kidney: about 40,000 Rs
- Compaq Laptop: 50,000 Rs
- Flight Delhi to London: 28,000 Rs
- Cheapest Hero Honda motorbike (150 cc): around 40,000 Rs
- Ford Fiesta: 587,000 Rs
- Four hours on Gurgaon golf course: 800 Rs (info from golf course worker earning 2,400 Rs monthly)
- Two-Bedroom Apartment in Gurgaon: 10,000,000 to 50,000,000 Rs

Workers hired through contractors
Similar to temporary workers, meaning that they work (often for long periods) in one company but are officially employed by a contractor from whom they also receive their wages. Are supposed to be made permanent after 240 days of continuous employment in the company, according to the law. A lot of companies only have a licence for employing workers in auxiliary departments, such as canteen or cleaning. Companies usually find ways to get around these legal restrictions, e.g., workers services are terminated on the 239th day to avoid workers reaching eligibility criteria to become permanent. In many industries contract workers account for 60 to 80 per cent of the work force, their wage is 1/4 to 1/6 of the permanents’ wage.

3 Responses to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.9/22”


  1. [...] We document short reports of workers in the automobile supply-chain, followed by an interview with a Rico union official. Rico Auto workers were locked-out in September / October 2010. For some background information see: GWN 21 GWN 22 [...]


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