Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 12 – August 2008

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 August issue you can find:

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

*** Thread cutters, ironing workers, taylors, machine operators, assembly line workers for medical equipment or automobile parts, Coca Cola workers, security guards… -
Continuation of short reports from workers employed at different companies in Gurgaon (for more see: Gurgaon Workers News no.10 and no.11). The reports have been gathered between March and June 2008. Particularly the textile workers are exploited by international chains: Wal Mart, Tom Taylor, H&M, Marks & Spencers, Mexx, Karstadt, Quelle, Neckermann and so on. Most of the reports do not show much more than the fact that the official legal working standards are not met. The various wildcat strikes at the end of 2007 (see: GWN no.10) show that only unruly proletarian behaviour can improve the situation. Given the current inflation of 12 percent and the even higher inflation of prices for “proletarian goods” – gas, grain, rice, transport – the “unruly behaviour” will become a necessary act of survival.

*** Book on working-conditions of women workers in Gurgaon and Noida -
The bulk of this book consists of four sectoral studies of women workers in Delhi and its satellite townships of Noida and Gurgaon, through a combination of structured questionnaires and individual and group discussions conducted in 2002-04.
(Women Workers and Globalisation: Emergent Contradictions in India, by Indrani Mazumdar; Stree, Kolkata, for Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi, 2007)

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

*** Unfinished Unrest -
Three short stories of young workers on strike, Gurgaon-Faridabad industrial belt in spring 2008. They are employed at Gulati Exports factory, a major textile exporting company. They work for Action Construction Equipment (ACE), a tractor manufacturer in nearby Faridabad. They laid down tools at Ilpea Paramounts, a manufacturer of plastic and rubber parts for the automobile industry. The stories portray the arbitrary role of the labour department, the main state institution which intervenes in case of industrial conflicts. They portray the repressive function of the police and other paid goons. They show the problem of workers in struggle being replaced by workers in search of a living.

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

*** 1,500 cops deployed in Gurgaon to secure the building of parts of the SEZ boundary wall -
Summary of recent newspaper articles on India’s biggest SEZ in the making. In July 2008 the state ordered hundreds of riot cops to secure the first building procedures for the SEZ. Local villagers, most of them landed peasants, demand higher compensation for their land. Later during the week a huge police action which tried to prevent a conservative anti-SEZ group from blocking the highway caused hours of traffic stand-still, effecting the local (call centre) industries.

*** The City makes the Countryside -
On the background of the land-grab for the SEZ we summarise some articles on the changing class structure in the rural areas surrounding Gurgaon, Haryana.

The first article portrays the situation in a village near Gurgaon, affected by the land-grab for the SEZ. The author describes how the “traditional village social cohesion” is dissolved in the process.
The second article isn’t much more than a hint: the capitalist farmers in Punjab and Haryana have trouble finding migrant workers for bringing in their harvest. They cry about rising wage demands of the proletarians. They blame urban areas like Gurgaon for draining their human capital, and they accuse the state-organised work-scheme NREGA of creating an upward wage pressure. In Gujarat the state government has increased the minimum wage for rural labourers by 100 per cent in July 2008. The massive increase of wage labour in recent years plus the hikes of food prices ask for preventive counter-insurgency.
The third article examines the accused work-scheme: given the enormous transformation and turmoil on the countryside, the huge streams of migration, the thousands of debt-suicides, the growing armies of Maoism, the state has to launch a large-scale welfare scheme to try to secure social control. The scheme helps control rural proletarian reproduction by giving only one person per household a paid job, controlling their movements by implementing a system of registered enrolling and formalised applications, mobilising a cheap manual work-force for infrastructure programs, re-enforcing the power of the local village council by entrusting it with the management and payment function of the work-scheme.
The last article has a sad background: in December 2007, in a Gurgaon upper-middle class school a teenager was shot by school mates. The Indian media was full of “Americanization” paranoia. In contrast to this superficial reaction some journalists tried to understand how the violent act was a mirror of the violent transformation of medium peasants into rent-based new rural rich – and how in Gurgaon they tend to clash with their urban upper-middle class counterparts.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** German Booklet
Supplement of the latest issue of Wildcat – 80 pages summary on proletarian life and struggles in Gurgaon – available end of August 2008. For orders see: http://www.wildcat-www.de

*** 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

*** Thread cutters, ironing workers, taylors, machine operators, assembly line workers for medical equipment or automobile parts, Coca Cola workers, security guards… -

The following reports reveal the essential character of legal labour standards: paper tigers. They have been collected and published by Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar, Faridabad Workers’ News (No. 236, 238, 239, 240 between February and June 2008). In most cases the minimum wage for industrial helpers of 3,510 Rs is not paid. If it is paid, then the working-times are way beyond the fixed 8-hours day and 6-days week. In most cases the over-time exceeds the legal restriction – maximum 50 hours in three months – and is paid at single rate, though according to the labour law it should be paid double. Hardly any workers receive the Provident Fund, a kind of unemployment money / pension that both workers and capitalists pay for, nor do they get ESI, medical insurance, which they are entitled to by law. In particular, the textile workers are exploited by international chains: Wal Mart, Tom Taylor, H&M, Marks & Spencers, Mexx, Karstadt, Quelle, Neckermann and so on. The various wildcat strikes at the end of 2007 show that only unruly proletarian behaviour can improve the situation. Given the current inflation of 12 percent and the even higher inflation of prices for “proletarian goods” (gas, grain, rice, transport), the “unruly behaviour” will become a necessary act of survival.

Alankar Worker
(Plot 410, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
We do up to 200 hours over-time per month, out of which 30 to 40 get cut due to “flaws”. There is a lot of verbal abuse going on – mostly from the quality control manager.
From the Alankar company web-site:
Annual turnover – US$ 6 m approx.
We are operating from a state of the art production facility in Gurgaon with a covered area of 60,000 sq.ft. Backed by technical skill and experience of a workforce of over 500, the factory has a production capacity of 1,20,000 units per month.
Clients:
Switzerland: Migros, Manor, Athleticum
Germany: K.L. Rupert, Street-One, Karstadt
France: Quelle
Denmark: Bon A Parte, Fransa
Finland: Intrade
Portugal: Sonae
U.S.A: Bleu Bayou (Designer Label)

http://www.alankarcreations.com/

Amisal Worker
(Plot 229, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
We produce leather bags, 50 of us, but we don’t get ESI or PF. The helpers’ wage is 3,000 Rs, the skilled get 3,800 Rs. We work from 9 am till 6:30 pm.
From the internet:
Amisal manufactures Leather Jackets (Gents), Leather Jackets (Ladies), Diary Covers/Cheque Book Covers, Ladies Handbags and Other Bags, Wallets.

http://www.leatherindia.org/spain/english/participants/amisal.html

Arvind Fashion Ayran Gola Worker
(Plot 60, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
They won’t tolerate if we are one miniuted late, but when leaving the factory they hold you back for 30 minutes unpaid. We get 2,400 Rs per month, the December wages have not been paid yet (18 of January).

Bhurji Supertech Worker
(Plot 272, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are 50 permanents and 150 workers are hired through two contractors. We work on two 12-hours shifts. The casuals’ over-time is paid only at single rate. The casual helpers get 2,400 Rs per month.
From the Bhurji Supertech company web-site:
»In the year 1969, Mr.G.S.Bhurji & Mr.K.S.Bhurji started small set up of manufacturing unit with ten people, both the Director had a big ambition to facilitate their customers with best quality products which of course resulted this organisation from sapling to a tree, now this organisation is growing a head with committed people, ownership feeling and with one common dream to achieve the target, Today we have 3 plants, developed numerous Injection Moulds and Moulding of plasting parts, in addition to that we are manufacturing various appliances like Air conditioners, Air coolers, Water purifiers, Storge/instant water heaters last but not least Juicers, Mixers and Griders .
Our quality products, perfect finishing competitive price range has helped us to gain the trust of our domestic and international clients. Some of our renowned and valued customers are: Bajaj Elect Ltd., Yamaha Motors India (P) Ltd, Swaraj Mazda Ltd, Water Co Ltd, Australia., Hitachi Group, Carrier AirCon, TCL, Haier«.

http://www.indiamart.com/bhurjisupertek/plastic-moulded-components.html

Break Fire / Cross Fire Worker
(Plot 30, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
We work nine and a halh hours per day. Out of 150 workers only ten get ESI or PF. The monthly wage is 3,510 Rs.
From the Cross Fire company web-site:
We are one of the well renowned manufacturers and distributors of Fire Fighting Equipment in Gurgaon

http://www.mapsofindia.com/cross-fire/index.html

Chintoo Creation Worker
(Plot 295, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
We start working at 9 am and finish at 8 pm, sometimes we have to stay till 2 am. The helpers get 2,600 Rs. They threaten to cut two hours from your wage in case you are one minute late. Although workers work continously throughout the year, the company documents show that they have handed in their notice after six months. A legal trick to prevent them claiming status as permenents. New company cards are issued each half a year. The company cuts wages for bank holidays, although they should be paid fully. The company cuts money for ESI and PF, but we receive no benefits. The January Dearness Allowance of 25 Rs has not been paid. When worklers are sacked and they write to the PF office, the office returns the PF form saying that the company signiture has been forged.
Chintoo Creation is a textile export manufacturer.

Classic Dials Worker
(Plot 367, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
We start working at 8:30 am and finish at 7 pm. The helpers’ wage is 2,000 Rs, the operators get 2,700 to 3,000 Rs. Out of the 200 workers only 40 get ESI or PF.
From the internet:
Classic Dials manufacturers and exports watch dials.

http://delhiyellowpagesonline.com/companies/CLASSIC_DIALS_PVT._LTD.-194431.htm

Coca Cola Worker
(Plot 266 or 276, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are 60 workers employed through three different contractors and eight permenent operators. We work on the 3rd floor. We get 2,200 Rs, no ESI or PF.

Dhir International Worker
(Plot 299, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The PF office returns the PF form sent by the company. They say it is incomplete.
From the internet:
Dhir International runs another factory in nearby Okhla.

http://www.netexpress.co.in/yellowpages/display/Exporters/Garments/New+Delhi/Delhi/8/display.aspx

Eastern Medikit Worker
(Plot 195 and 205, Udyog Vihar Phase I / Plot 292 and 299, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The casuals work twelve hours per day. They get 12 Rs for each hour over-time. When hired the helpers are told that they would get 3,000 to 3,500 Rs, but actually they are paid 2,200 to 2,400 Rs. There are 200 hours monthly over-time, normally 30 to 40 hours are embezzled. The money for the over-time worked in Febuary has not been paid yet, it is end of March. Currently the company announces that the March wages will be paid no sooner than May, because a delivery was returned due to quality problems and that therefore the companies’ situation is bad. Recently there has been a wildcat strike by 2,000 casual workers at Eastern Medikit due to payment problems (see GurgaonWorkersNews no. 11).

Flowlink Worker
(Plot 141, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The helper get 2,600 Rs, neither ESI nor PF. They work 12-hours shifts.
From the Flowlink comany web-site:
FLOWLINK INDUSTRIES PVT. LTD. WAS FOUNDED IN 1974 FOR THE PURPOSES OF DESIGN/ MANUFACTURE OF SHELL & TUBE HEAT EXCHANGERS, FINNED HEAT EXCHANGERS AND AGITATED VESSELS, PRESSURE VESSELS.
http://www.flowlink.com

Gaurav International Worker
(Plot 208/225/236, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Gaurav International supplies, amongst others, Wal Mart in the USA. We work from 9 am till 10 pm. In the second factory on 11th of March 2008 seven male and 35 female workers were sacked. We were called to the factory three times, but up to today, 30th of May 2008, we did not receive our wages for the eleven days we worked in March. Other workers said: While going back home to the village, the payment of 10-20 days that are due, we get back only after lot of troubles and very few of us get them at all.

From the Gaurav company web-site:
With State of The Art manufacturing facilities in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon (Near Delhi) & Head Office in New Delhi, we produce world class “NAFABS” brand of narrow fabrics for Garments, Shoes, Hosiery, Surgical, Sports, Driving Goggles & Automobile Industry. Our “NAFABS” narrow fabrics are manufactured on imported Swiss & Taiwanese Looms.
http://www.nafabs.com

Georgy Worker
(Plot 366, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The workers hired through contractor get 2,200 Rs per month, for thread cutting work. People who quit the job have a hard time getting their outstanding money. Now it is May and i have not received the wages for December.

Graffiti Export Worker
(Plot 377, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are 300 skilled taylors employed in the factory, none of them get ESI or PF. The permanent helpers work ten and a half hours per day, their monthly wage is 3,510 Rs. The skilled get 14 to 16 Rs per hour. The helpers hired through contractors get 2,500 Rs, the pressmen and folding workers get 3,000 Rs. In the finishing department they work ten and a half hours, but only eight hours are paid. Every second day we have to work till 2 am. The company document shows 100 hours over-time per month (illegal!), but these hours are paid at single rate and normally ten to fifteen hours get embezzled.
From the Graffiti company web-site:
Today, graffiti forms its backbone with two factories in Bangalore and Delhi boasts of the state of art machinery and latest computer know how. The following client profile has been served on regular basis for the last ten years.
Tom Tailor (Germany), Hema (Holland) More & More (Germany), Neckermann, Karstadt, Quelle, Marc o Polo (Europe)

http://www.graffitiexports.com/index.html

Gulati Export Worker
(Plot 397, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
We work from 9:30 am to 8 pm, but three to four times per week we have to stay till 2 am. The over-time is paid at single rate. When we are forced to stay till 2 am we get 25 Rs for food. The helpers hired through contractors get 2,400 Rs, the skilled workers get 3,000 to 3,200 Rs.
From the internet:
Gulati manufactures leathergarments and goods.

http://www.leatherindia.org/memdirlist.asp?selCat=&CompName=&selProd=&AlphaCompName=G&pageNo=9

Haryana Indication Worker
(Plot 315, 318, 322, 325 / Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are 2,000 workers, they work 12-hours shifts. The hour over-time is paid 11 Rs. The monthly wage is 2,700 Rs.
Haryana Steel Worker
(Plot 318, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
We manufacture parts for Maruti Suzuki. We are 500 workers, we don’t have a weekly day off. The helpers get 2,700 Rs.

In Style Worker I
(Plot 378, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
We work from 9 am till 9:45 pm, two to three times per week till 00:45 am. Then we get 20 Rs for food. The female workers have to stay longer, as well. They are subjected to rude behaviour, the boss swears at workers. Two of the managers have become labour contractors themselves. The thread cutting workers get 2,400 Rs.

In Style Worker II
(Plot 140, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
There are 100 workers hired through contractors, they get between 2,000 and 2,500 Rs, no ESI or PF. They cut threads, they do the washing and ironing work. They work from 9 am till 1:30 am. Half of the February wage has been paid on 20th of March, the other half has not been paid yet (28th of March 2008).

Jyoti Apparels Worker
(Plot 159, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The normal shift starts at 9:15 am and finishs at 9 pm, but five days per week we have to work till 2 am. They force you to stay longer, if you won’t, they will give you the sack. There is verbal abuse going on inside the factory. If you take half a day off, because you physical condition is down, you are not paid the other half of the day that you have workd.
(Annual turn-over: 80 crore Rs / jyotiapparels@vsnl.com)

Kalamkari Worker
(Plot 283, Udyog Vihar Phase III or Plot 280, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are female workers hired through contractors in the thread cutting department. They have no day off and get 2,500 Rs per month. They work from 9 am till 8:45 pm.

Kandor Worker
(Plot 792, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
We work twelve hours per day, our over-time payment is paid at single rate.

Koraskom Finishing Worker
(Plot 418, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
Since April 2008 we work one shift: from 9:30 am till 2 am. On Sundays we work till 8 pm. Over-time is paid at single rate. The helpers get 2,200 Rs, the skilled 2,800 Rs. There is verbal abuse.

KBSH Worker
(Plot 300, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The machines have been removed from the factory, now they want to turn the factory into a call centre. Us 500 permanent workers have lost their jobs and the company does not fill in the PF form – they say that there has been a fire and that the documents were burnt.

http://company.indiatradepage.com/30390/KBSH_EXPORT_HOUSE/

KIS Export Worker
(Plot 885, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
There are 200 workers, they work from 9 am till 8 pm. Only 50 of them get ESI or PF. The helpers are paid 3,510 Rs.

Kishor and Co. Worker
(Plot 344, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The helpers get 3,200 Rs.
From the internet:
Mfrs. & Exporters Of Pharmaceuticals Cosmetics & Food Processing Machinery.

http://delhiyellowpagesonline.com/companies/KISHORE___COMPANY-159128.htm

Kracha Worker
(Plot 239, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The 78 workers hired through contractors who do washing or thread cutting get 2,700 Rs per month, They don’t get ESI or PF. Currently there is not much work, the two daily hours over-time are paid at single rate (March). In April we worked a ten and a half hours day-shift and a twelve and a half hours night-shift. We were forced to sign the double payment of over-time, but actually only get single rate. The 300 workers on night-shift can work without being troubled too much, but the 700 to 800 day-shift workers have to put up with being screamed at and abuses by the bosses.

Krishna Label Worker
(Plot 162, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
There are 500 workers in the plant. We have to ask for a token in order to be allowed to go to the toilet or to take water. If you ignore this rule and just go without the token you have to pay a 500 Rs fine. If you are five minutes late at the beginning of the shift, they cut one hour from your wage. But they only allow you to go five minutes after end of shift. We start working at 9 am and finish at 7:30 pm or 8:30 pm. There is no break to take food. The helpers get 3,510 Rs, there is money cut for ESI and PF, but we don’t get the benefit. (A different worker two month later in May 2008) If they let you work three hours longer, only two and a half hours are called over-time, paid at single rate. Out of twelve months PF contribution only eight are paid out to the workers. There is verbal abuse.
From the internet:
Krishna Label manufactures and exports garments.

http://company.indiatradepage.com/29282/KRISHNA_LABELS_PVTLTD/

Logwell Forge Worker
(Plot 116, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
About 20 to 25 per cent of the work-force are permanents, the rest are casual workers. Those casual workers with ITI, an official professional qualification, get 3,510 Rs, like the permanents. The working times are two 12-hours shifts, the over-time is paid at single rate. About 300 to 400 Rs from the casuals’ monthly wages gets embezzled. None of the permanent workers get more than 2,500 Rs Bonus per month. There is lot of pollution in the factory, there is no air-cleaning device, no medical check on the workers, no ESI card is given. When people get sacked, they have trouble to get their PF money. From the casual workers’ wage 525 has been cut for PF, but if you ask them what for, they won’t answer you. The company intimidates workers, there are uniformed guys to do that.
From the internet:
India’s largest producer of safety and critical components for steering and suspensions assemblies. Is currently supplying as tier 1 & tier 2 supplier to all leading oems of India and also direct exports to ZF Lamforder, Jacob Vehicle Systems etc. Has comprehensive manufacturing (press and hammer forges) and heat treatment.

http://logwell-forge-limited.tradenote.net/

Magenta Worker
(Plot 261, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
The helper are paid 2,600 Rs, they do not get ESI or PF.

Mega Fashion Worker
(Plot 202, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There are 60 women workers working in the thread cutting department. When hired they were promised 3,500 Rs, in january they were given only 2,500 Rs. The Febuary wages have been paid late, I then left the end of March. I wanted to get my outsanding wages from the contractor, be he and his supervisor have disappeared. The Febuary and March have not been paid yet, and it is end of April now.

Mini Center Worker
(Plot 212, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The helpers get 2,200 to 2,500 Rs per month, there is no day off, no ESI or PF is given.

Modelama Export Worker
(Plot 201, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The official working time is from 8:30 am till 7:15 pm, but actually you have to stay till 9 or 10 pm. The helpers get 2,600 Rs, the skilled get 3,600, but they have to sign 3,900 Rs. 50 to 60 hours over-time is paid single rate. They cut money for ESI and PF, but you will only receive the benefit after seven to eight month of work.
From the Modelama company web-site:
Ten factories in Gurgaon area (addresses see website)
One of the leading garment manufacturers and exporters in India with production units covering about 4,00,000 sq.ft. of area. Production capacity of 6 million garments per year and a turn over of 60 million USD
Clients are: GAP, Marks & Spencers, Laura Ashleys, Villeroy & Boch.

http://www.modelamaexports.com/overview.aspx

Murdian House Worker
(Plot 231, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The helpers get 2,554 Rs, the skilled 3,510 Rs. Each month we make about 90 to 100 hours over-time. Single rate payment, no ESI or PF for the 250 workers.

Neetee Clothing Worker
(Plot 218, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
There are more than 1,000 workers in the factory. There is neither ESI nor PF. The helpers get 3,000 Rs, the skilled 3,610 Rs. We start working at 9:30 am and finish at 8 pm, 11pm, 1 am…

http://www.hotfrog.in/Companies/Neetee-Clothing_615443

Orchid Overseas Worker
(Plot 133, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
There are 150 to 200 casual workers in the pland, they earn 2,800 Rs, they are given neither ESI nor PF. Working-Times are from 8:30 am till 7 pm, the boss screams a lot, makes a lot of pressure.
From the internet:
ORCHIDS IS A LARGE EXPORT HOUSE WHICH HAS BUYERS FROM BIG NAMES LIKE CALVIN.K,NEXT,PAUL SMITH,ETC.

http://www.texnett.com/cgi-bin/texmain/perpage.pl?mp=1109

Poygange Worker
(Plot 686, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
Only eight women workers are hired directly by the company, the rest, about 1,200 to 1,300 are hired through contractors. We work on two 12-hours shifts. Only after three months of employment you will get ESI and PF. The company fills in the PF form no earlier than six months after the dismissal, after you left the company.

Premium Molding Worker
(Plot 185, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
We work on two 12-hours shifts. The over-time is paid six and a half Rs per hour. The helpers get 3,200 Rs, the 250 workers hired through contractor get neither ESI nor PF.

Radnik Export Worker
(Plot 215, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
There are 1,000 workers in the factory. We work 13-hours shifts, sometimes 17-hours. Workers sign that their over-time is paid double, actually it is paid single. The helpers’ wage is 3,510 Rs. You have to pay a bribe of 200 to 300 Rs in order to get hired. We were not paid the 25 RS Dearness Allowance of January. Threatening with the sack, the boss cashes in 200 Rs from each worker each month. It is hot and there is a lot of noise.
From the company web-site:
Supporting your deliveries are six production factories, covering a total area of 250,000 sq. feet, with a capacity to handle 500,000 garments per month. State-of-the-art machinery is used across all functions, which include over 2000 stitching machines in India and Nepal.
Clients: H&M, Mexx, Morgan Spencer,

http://www.radnikexports.com/clients.html

RL Khanna Worker
(Plot 289 and 373, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
There has been a wage increase in March 2008, since then we get 200 Rs more. Now the permanents get 2,600 Rs, the helpers hired through contractors get 2,400 Rs. There are 70 to 80 hours over-time per month.
From the internet:
Bedspreads, Curtain Fabrics-knited, Curtain Fabrics-woven, Cushions & Covers, Durries, Handlom-fabrics & Products, Home Furnishing, Napkins, Table Covering/linen, Table Runners

http://www.hotfrog.in/Companies/R-L-Khanna-Co-Overseas

S&R Export Worker
(Plot 298, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
We work from 9 am till 8 pm., then often have to stay till midnight. Single rate payment, the helpers get 3,510 Rs. S&R manufacturs ornaments.

Security Guard I
(Plot 152, 210, Udyog Vihar Phase I / Plot 324, Udyog Vihar Phase III / Plot 224, Udyog Vihar Phase IV / Plot 540, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
We work at factories of Sargan Exports, there are 25 Security Guards employed by Swift Security. We work on two 12-hours shifts, seven days per week. For 30 days we get a monthly wage of 4,450 Rs. They cut money for ESI and PF, but we get nothing. Wages are paid delayed.

Security Guard II
We are employed by Countrywide Security based in Delhi. There are more than 100 guards in Gurgaon. We work on two 12-hours shifts, there is no weekly day off. We get 4,000 Rs, neither ESI nor PF.

Security Guard III
We are employed by Kiran Security, the office is situated in Dundahera. We are 150 workers, we work twelve hours a day, every day of the week. We get 2,900 to 3,000 Rs. For several months wages have not been paid, we cannot meet the director of the company.

Security Guard IV
We work for Innovation Securycor, twelve hours per day, seven days per week. We get 4,500 Rs.

Security Guard V
We work for Sasthi Security, their office is at Hanuman Mandir. We work twelve hours shifts, no day off. We get 4,200 to 4,500 Rs.

Shapoorji Pallonji Worker
(Plot 243, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
In February us 40 workers from the Steering department were sacked, but they did not pay the outstanding wages, amounting to four months. When we were working and did not receive wages we nevertheless had to spent at least 300 Rs per week. We complained at the labour department.

http://shapoorji.in/homepage.asp?p=ho

Spark Overseas Worker
(Plot 166, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The helpers are paid 3,510 Rs but wages are delayed and paid bit by bit. We often work from 9 am till 2 am. If a worker asks for a day off, due to being shattered, the boss threatens with the sack. There is verbal abuse. If a workers leave the job it is nearly impossible for them to get their outstanding wage. You have to come around eight to ten times and wait for two to three months. There are 5oo to 600 workers hired through five different contractors. There is only one latrine for all male workers, it is always over-crowded and blocked.

http://indiayellowpagesonline.in/directory/56/readymade-garments.htm

Standard Gold Worker
(Plot 235, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Standard Gold manufacturs electronic items. The helpers’ wage is 2,350 Rs the skilled get 3,000 to 3,500 Rs. There are over 100 workers in the factory, but only 30 get ESI and PF.

V&S Worker
(Plot 301, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
The December wages have not been paid by end of January. They call workers casual although they work continously through the year. Hardly anyone gets PF or ESI.

http://www.gs1india.org.in/servlets/Ean.CompanyDetailServlet?SelectedCompanyId=7257

Viva Global Worker
(Plot 413, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
I started working yesterday at 9:30 am and now at 7 am I leave the factory. In two and a half hours I have to be back at work. Normally the shift is from 9:30 am till 8 or 9 pm, but then the gates are closed and several people are forced to stay till 7 am. There is no weekly day off. Over-time is paid at single rate. There are 700 workers in the factory, but at nights the canteen is closed. During night-shifts the company does not even give a tea or breakfast. (a different worker)
There are 500 workers employed in the factory. Normally we work from 9:30 am till 10 or 11 pm. In March we had to stay till 2 am or even 4 am everyday.
From the Viva company web-site:
Viva Globals mainly supplies clients in the US and Europe

http://www.vivaglobal.com/customers.html

*** Book on working conditions of women workers in Gurgaon and Noida

Women Workers and Globalisation: Emergent Contradictions in India by
Indrani Mazumdar; Stree, Kolkata, for Centre for Women’s Development
Studies, Delhi, 2007; pp xxiv + 349, Rs 550.

The bulk of this book consists of four sectoral studies of women workers in Delhi and its satellite townships of Noida and Gurgaon, through a combination of structured questionnaires and individual and group discussions conducted in 2002-04.
The first study of the garment export industry notes the dramatic transfer of employment from higher to lower-wage countries in the 1980s and 1990s.
The second study is of the electronics manufacturing industry, earlier regarded as the leading example of feminisation, although in India, automation subsequently led to a reduction in the proportion of women workers.
The third study is of women in home-based work. The concepts of the “informal sector” and “informal economy” are discussed, as well as the neoliberal promo-tion of this unregulated sector because of its extreme flexibility, at the cost of extreme insecurity for the workers employed in it.
The fourth study is of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, which has been expanding with the increasing weight of services in the economy, and is integral to globalisation.
book review from: Economic and Political Weekly VOL 43 No. 23 June 07 – June 13, 2008

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

*** Unfinished Unrest -
Three short stories of young workers on strike, Gurgaon-Faridabad industrial belt in spring 2008. They are employed at Gulati Exports factory, a major textile export company. They work for Action Construction Equipment, a tractor manufacturer in nearby Faridabad. They laid down tools at Ilpea Paramounts, a manufacturer of plastic parts. The stories portray the arbitrary role of the labour department, the main state institution which intervenes in case of industrial conflicts. They portray the repressive function of the police and other paid goons. They show the problem of workers in struggle being replaced by workers in search of a living.

Gulati Export Worker
(Plot 177, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Us 100 workers in the sampling department have a lot of trouble. We start working at 9:30 am and are forced to work till 2 am. Wages are delayed. Out of 100 workers only 20 get ESI or PF. The drinking water is dirty. People often fall ill and then they get fired. On payment day you have to give a bribe of 100 Rs. The helpers get a wage of 2,800 Rs. There is no bonus payment, but there is verbal abuse. In order to overcome all this we registered a union. On 15th of May we gave the notice of our union to the management and made everyone stay outside the factory. We then went to the labour department, they first gave us an appointment on 22nd of May, then they postponed it to 3rd of June. We were threatened, they told us that they would call the police. We were told to sit in a 300 foot distance from the factory gate, but how should you sit down in front of the gate of a different factory? Amongst us there were also women workers, the company stopped the water supply for the people outside and they locked the toilets. About 40 managers and supervisors came outside and everyday the police paid us a visit. Without having been given any written notice eight of us were called to come to the company factory in nearby Manesar…
In the other Gulati factory (Plot 203, Udyog Vihar Phase I) there are 200 permanent workers and 300 workers hired through contractors. Two month ago, in March/April, the company turned the 200 permanents into workers hired through contractors, which resulted in a wage cut of 1,500 Rs. In order to act against this ten of us have stopped paying the contributions for ESI and PF. On 16th of May 2008 we were kicked out of the factory. The women who stay there work twelve hours per day, they get 2,200 to 2,300 Rs per month.

Action Construction Equipment (ACE)
The new factory is based in Dudhaula village. Recently the company has delivered 150 tractors. Us 70 workers manufacture five to six tractors per shift, meaning in twelve and a half hours. On 28th of April 2008 one worker took a day off due to being ill and two other workers took a holiday because they had to attend to a wedding. On the 29th of April these three workers were not taken back on the job. This is why on 5th of May 2008 we all refused to enter the factory and sat down in front of it instead. The production has stopped and today, on the 7th of May we sit here in front of the factory again.
It was ACE itself who had hired us, after one month of work they had given us the company uniform. By 25th of April they handed out the ACE gate pass with the company name on it (something valuable in India, because it also serves as a kind of ID-card). But then all of a sudden the company started to refer to us as “workers hired through contractors”.
On the second day of our strike a guy from Panther Security arrived at the factory. He made a lot of reassuring and soothing remarks and told us to go inside the factory. We replied that they should first re-instate the three fired work-mates. He himself went inside, then came back to us saying: “Do what you want, but they will not be taken back on”. In the ACE factory in Dudhaula we have to face problems over problems. Our daily shift starts at 9 am and finishs at 9:30 pm. On Sundays we work eight hours. For the daily over-time we get only 60 Rs, for the Sunday shift only 120 Rs. On some days they force us to stay even longer, and these hours are then unpaid. The factory is quite far away from Mathura Road, but the workers are from Faridabad and Palval. When you finish work at 9:30 pm you have to walk on foot from Sunsan to Mathura Road. You might be able to stop a truck which helps you getting home, but not all trucks stop. You return home at 1 am. The police harass you on the way.
At ACE nearly all work steps are done in the factory, only the engines come from China. The name of the Chinese manufacturer is erased and the ACE company logo is pressed on. The engines are kept on trolleys, moved around, in order to work on them. All work is done manually, there are only two pressure guns. Our wages are 3,500 to 4,000 Rs (just to compare: the permanent workers at Faridabad based tractor manufacturer Escorts who were hired in the 1980s earn up to five times this wage).
There are three fans and you have to work in the heat, the drinking water is hot, too. If people get injured on the job they have to go to the village in order to get first aid. They have to pay for that themselves. The management and the supervisors are always on our backs, their only job is to give us swear words.
On the 5th of May we did not enter the factory, then the guy from the time office arrived – GK Agraval – and said that the three would be taken back within a week or ten days. After we still did not enter the personnel hand started to threaten us again: »You come to work drunk, you steal things, from today on the gate is closed for all of you. Only because you are locals from around here that doesn’t mean that you can throw your weight around. We can hire people from outside for two thousand rupees and with the help of the police we will sort you out …«
We met local people from Dudhaula. In the back of ACE we met workers from CNC and welding shops. We talked to workers from High Polymer Lab and other factories. On the 7th of May 2008 we went to the factory and the police was there. They did not let us sit down at the gate and they refused to let us sit down at other places around the factory – this would have been an insult to the company. We finally sat down on an empty plot of land and management people accompanied by an ASI from Dhatir police station arrived. They said: »You cannot fight with the rich, you have to come to an agreement, we will grab you and bring you inside, then you will get a court date, that will ruin you«. One of us said that we are ready to face it, then the police inspector was about to take him with him. We all went with him and when the police guy finally released him he said that we should not start trouble. The management comes around and checks the score. A guy from a newspaper takes pictures. The CID writes a report…
(On the company web-site there are some pictures of the plant and additional information)

http://www.ace-cranes.com/about-us.html

Ilpea Paramounts
(Sector 59, Part-B, Faridabad)
The factory is situated at Jharsentali-Jajru Road. There are 80 casual workers who are employed by the company since years. Their wage is 2,500 to 3,000 Rs, they don’t get ESI or PF. They work 12-hours shifts, every second day they work 36 hours on stretch. They complained at the labour department, the ministry of labour, the chief minister. On the 27th of February 2008 at 4 pm a car of the labour department arrived at the factory. The official went into the factory office while a guy from the personnel department made the casual workers leave the factory. The official wrote down names, listened to what people had to say and asked them to show their wage slips. On 7th of March 2008 the official came back to the factory. The management said that the wages would be paid on the following day and that the delay was due to money problems. The management called 40 permanent workers to the following day-shift and the 80 casuals to come to night-shift. Those who then showed their wage slips to the official of the labour department were the permanent workers… but the casual workers had gathered at the factory gates. When the personnel manager saw them standing at the gate he said that they should come back tomorrow, “take this money and go, have some tea, eat some samosas, come back in an hour”. The workers did not move and they surrounded the labour department official once he stepped outside the factory. They were reassured that the wages would be paid on the following day. On the 9th of March 2008 the labour official came to the factory, but the company said that they had no money to pay the wages. When the same happened on the following day, the official made some threatening remarks, so finally on 11th of March 2008 the 80 casuals were paid 3,510 Rs, in presence of the labour official. They also received a pay slip, but there was neither an ESI nor a PF number on it. The official left saying that the 200 to 300 hours over-time from February (illegally high amount of over-time) should be paid at double rate and the payment should happen on 25th of March, and that he would be present. On 25th of March he did not come to the factory. On 29th of March the company paid between 2,500 and 3,000 Rs according to wages for the over-time, but this meant that it was only paid at single rate.
The Ilpea Paramounts management forced the casuals to sign a wage of 3,540 Rs, but the actual wages for March and April were 2,500 to 3,000 Rs. When facing opposition the management started to kick workers out and started to pick individual people in order to hire them for replacement.
On 15th of April at 8:30 pm after the end of shift some of the newly hired people gathered and started a row on Mathura Road. The turmoil continued until the company provided a vehicle to transport the workers to and from work. During this incident the company had some permanent workers arrested by the police and expelled from the factory. Then on 12th of May two cars with ten to twelve people arrived at the factory. The manager called the casuals singly into his office and threatened them together with these people – “if you don’t act according to what the company says, we will break your hand and foot”.
(Ilpea manufactures, amongst other things, rubber and plastic components for refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioners and automobiles)

http://www.indiabizclub.com/qxzpmd/?q=;0t0tnp4o7gnp00aki

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

*** 1,500 cops deployed in Gurgaon to secure the building of parts of the SEZ boundary wall -
Summary of recent newspaper articles on India’s biggest SEZ in the making.

In July 2008 the state ordered hundreds of riot cops to secure the first building procedures for the SEZ. Local villagers, most of them landed peasants, demand higher compensation for their land. Due to political re-adjustment the quarrel about a legal curb of single SEZ size and the mounting real estate crisis the start of the construction work on the Gurgaon SEZ has been delayed. Now things seem to take shape…
After months of silence, the move by Reliance Industries to start construction work for a boundary wall in and around Harsaru village in Gurgaon for India’s largest special economic zone (SEZ) once again resulted in tension in the locality. Over 1,500 policemen, along with two DCPs and Sub Divisional Magistrate JS Sanghwan, were present at the spot. Of the 1700 acres in Garhi Hasru around 12 km from Gurgaon along the Pataudi road Reliance was able to gain control of 1,000 acres.
Haryana Kisan Majdoor Sangharsh Samiti (The Haryana Peasant and Workers Struggle Committee), the organisation opposing the state government move to hand over 1,395 acres of agricultural land to Reliance Industries for the joint-venture SEZ, said that people from different villages would turn out at Harsaru and oppose the move. “We will not let them take possession of the land here until our concerns are addressed. Farmers have been feeling cheated by the government,” said the Samiti chief Mahavir Gulia”.
from: Times of India, 1 July 2008

Once more the new multi-lane National Highway 8, India’s most modern highway, became a pivotal point of struggle. In Gurgaon, whenever there is a group in struggle – be it workers on strike or conservative caste-based communities – they tend to block the highway. Sometimes this fact reveals a general truth about the relationship between proletarian struggle for resources and the “environmental question”: last summer, when there was a lack of drinking water mainly due to the deep wells of the industry, Gurgaon villagers blocked the highway – the symbol of India’s path towards an automobile industrial society, a polluting, resource-consuming society. As proletarians they have to take advantage of any means available in order to put pressure on those in power, even be it by making use of the very same industrial structure which puts them into misery. This time it was the attempt by the state to prevent the unruly road-blocks, which actually created the stand-still. Another incident which reveals the limits and contradictions of state control…

“It was mayhem on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. Traffic came to a standstill for at least three hours during the morning rush, and the tailback stretched from the 32-lane toll plaza to Mahipalpur. And it was all because the Gurgaon Police first put up barricades to stop Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) supporters from entering Gurgaon and later blocked all the cash and tag lanes at the toll plaza. Earlier, HJC supporters and their leader Kuldeep Singh Bishnoi declared their intention to turn up at Gurgaon in full force to register their protest against the construction activities at what will be Indias largest SEZ. Apprehending unrest, the Gurgaon Police moved a large contingent to the 32-lane toll plaza. Meanwhile, all those who took the expressway to work reached close to three hours late. “At least 25 of our vehicles were caught in the jam. Many had to cancel important meetings. Since we have a good communication network, we diverted our cabs to other routes,” said Vibhu Narayan, vice-president of Genpact BPO (the biggest call centre in Gurgaon, about 20,000 employees)”.
from Times of India, 5 July 2008

*** The City makes the Countryside -
On the background of the land-grab for the SEZ we summarise some articles on the changing class structure in the rural areas surrounding Gurgaon.

Intro
It is said that India is still an agrarian country, a country of villages. Statistically 70 per cent of the population still live on the “countryside” – but they don’t live as peasants, the majority of them live as proletarians. 40 per cent of the rural population don’t own land. Most of the “land-owning peasants” actually survive as wage workers: 80 per cent of the land-owning households own too little land to make a living – under two hectars – forcing them to turn to other sources of income. Only 35 per cent of the average Indian rural household’s income stems from working on one’s own fields. More and more rural proletarians have to find other sources of income: those who have some kind of resources – e.g. a small patch of land – can migrate to cities, those who have no resources try to find jobs in the rural industries, e.g. brick kilns, construction work or work in the “industrial harvests”. In Haryana – the state surrounding Gurgaon – in Punjab and other states of the “Green Revolution” (the “industrialisation of agriculture”) these tendencies towards “proletarianisation” of the rural population is far advanced. Leaving the old hierarchies of village life and the desolate situation, they try to find a better life in the cities. In Gurgaon the misery and aspirations of the rural proletariat can be found in the factories: most of the workers are migrants from poorer states. The fact that 12-14-16-hours shifts, slum life, malnourishment can still be enforced upon industrial workers is due to the enormous pressure from the land. The fact that the agriculture in Haryana and Punjab finds it difficult to attract a sufficient number of migrant workers for the harvest show that the aspirations within misery are growing. In the following we summarise some articles which relate to the situation in rural Haryana. Looking at the anti-SEZ protests in Gurgaon rural area we can see that the protests are lead by the landed peasantry. They don’t oppose the SEZ as such, they don’t want to keep on letting the poor plough their land, they actually want to leave their land, but for a higher price. The landless don’t protest, but we don’t know why. They might see a chance that the SEZ or the increased construction work will provide better jobs.

The first article portrays the situation in a village near Gurgaon, affected by the land-grab for the SEZ. The author describes how the “traditional village social cohesion” is dissolved in the process. Instead of trying to understand the liberating potentials and forces of the dissolution of hierarchical village life he turns to conservative views.
The second article isn’t much more than a hint: the capitalist farmers in Punjab and Haryana have trouble finding migrant workers for their harvest, they cry about rising wage demands of the proletarians. They blame urban areas like Gurgaon for draining their human capital, and they accuse the state-organised work-scheme NREGA of creating an upward wage pressure. In Gujarat the state government has increased the minimum wage for rural labourers by 100 per cent in July 2008. The massive increase of wage labour in recent years plus the hikes of food prices ask for preventive counter-insurgency.
The third article examines the accused work-scheme: given the enormous transformation and turmoil on the countryside, the huge streams of migration, the thousands of debt-suicides, the growing armies of Maoism, the state has to launch a large-scale welfare scheme which secures control: controlling the rural proletarian reproduction and movements by giving only one person of a household a paid job, mobilising a cheap manual work-force for infrastructure programs, reinforcing the power of the local village council by giving it the management function of the work-scheme.
The last article has got a sad back-ground: in December 2007, in a Gurgaon upper-middle class school a teenager was shot by school mates. The Indian media was full of “Americanization” paranoia. In contrast to this superficial reaction some journalists tried to understand how the violent act was a mirror of the violent transformation of peasants into rent-based new rural rich – which in Gurgaon tend to clash with their urban upper-middle class counterparts.

The SEZ-village

“Pelpa is a small village in Jhajjar district in Haryana bordering Delhi and Gurgaon. A little more than a year ago hundreds of acres of land, belonging to the landed in Pelpa and neighbouring villages, was acquired by the State Government to facilitate a private company set up an SEZ. The landed have been paid “compensation” for acquisition of the land. Since then the socio-economic character of the village has undergone radical transformation. Pelpa, hitherto a typical North Indian rural settlement with agriculture as primary occupation and source of income to most of its residents, is now a hamlet of gaping oppositions: bullient nouveau-riche and jobless landless labourers. Those who once owned acres of green farmland now own hefty bank balances. The property-rich and cash-poor have overnight become cash-rich and property-poor. How long will the two, money and its current owners, stay together is debatable but with abundant money, the once landed have surely been exposed to a style of living that money alone can buy. The nouveau-riche is intent at enjoying every luxury of the ilk of gyms, fitness centers, public school education, exorbitant weddings, shopping at malls, swanky cars, SUVs, multi-storied palatial houses, latest gadgets, booze at pubs that money can procure. Parvenus strut around the rural landscape with arrogant airs and ostentatious lifestyles. Not everyone was a landowner in this village. The life of landless people and weaker sections, who worked on these fields as daily wagers, has become worse after the land acquisition. The farmland was not only the source of income and occupation for landless families but was a source of fodder for their cattle as well. Gainful employment and procuring “chara”, that is, green fodder, for cattle has become one of the major problems in daily routine as the SEZ land is out of bound for these people. Previously, though the land was privately owned, it still had a liberal symbiotic relationship with all its villagers. With due respect to the cultivated crops, the landless and peasants had a kind of moral, if not legal, right to shear fodder for the livestock and procure bathua saag for the evening rotis. The symbiosis had the baggage of history for its peaceful longevity and vibrancy. Now with land everything, including the cultural practices the mutual interdependence and the holism so typical of the Indian social set-up, is gone as there is no work or source of income for most of the people – especially the landless. With little left for natives in the village there is no option other than to sell their livestock and look for employment elsewhere. People are forced to abandon their meagre belongings and migrate to neighbouring towns like Delhi and Gurgaon. But with little or no education or metro-friendly knowledge, skills or attitude, life for them is not likely to be easy in these cities obsessed with individualisation and upward mobility.
To begin with, why establish these SEZs in States like Haryana that not only have one of the highest per capita income and standard of living, as economists like to call it, in the country but also compare with the best in the world in terms of agricultural productivity? It is often humoured, not just for rhyme alone but for good reason as well, that the only culture that Haryana has is agriculture! Nearly 80 per cent population of the State is, directly or indirectly, engaged in agricultural activities. Haryana ranks second in foodgrain production in the country and ranks first in production of rapeseed and mustard. The State contributes about 45 lakh tones of foodgrains to the Central pool annually, besides meeting its own requirements. About 86 per cent of the area in Haryana is arable, and of this 96 per cent is cultivated. About 75 per cent of cultivated land is well irrigated through an extensive system of canals and tubewells. Agricultural land, as we know, is a non-replenishable and non-replaceable resource. What a colossal waste of resource it would be to turn this fertile chunk into concrete! Moreover, fertile agricultural land has been the cultural and socio-economic heritage for generations of landowners and landless people in rural India. Closely-knit social institutions of villages form the fundamental structure of the Indian social milieu that has survived for centuries on this source of income and occupation. But soon this heritage would fade out of our memories. One stroke of applied logic of industrialisation would wipe out the history of generations. The future generations of these areas are likely to be “dislocated classes” of (un/semi-) skilled labour searching for jobs in the callous industrial world. The “poorly-planned” measures to accelerate growth are jeopardising agriculture making things hard for the landowners and the landless, by forcing farmers to abandon farming, relocate themselves, breaking down traditional social structures and making way for gigantic projects in which they may not have any stake.
In an attempt to circumvent some of the felt and anticipated consequences of establishing SEZs on agricultural land, the government decided to locate these zones on wastelands. But the government’s decision to locate SEZs on wastelands has already begun to open up a plethora of problems for the landless and local populace who are heavily dependent on these so-called wastelands as in the case of Pelpa. In Pelpa, because of the proposed SEZ, people have started facing the misery that (un)mindful industrialisation is causing. This land locally termed as bani, charagah, banjar, jungle, gaucher, jhoond, padit bhomi etc. is the prime source for timber, fuel, fodder non-timber forest produce, herbs, bamboo, straw etc. villagers and is the grazing ground for cattle. What we label as wasteland from the urban and industrial perspective has multiple utility especially for the landless people inhabiting rural areas”
from: Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 19, “Locational Disadvantage”, by Sheetal Sharma, April 2008

Lack of migrant workers for bringing in the harvest

“In what looks like the latest crisis to strike India’s food bowl, migrant labourers, who earlier came in hordes to till Punjab’s unending agricultural lands, have suddenly disappeared, forcing landlords to stop short of kidnapping them from railway stations and bus stops.
“Crisis?” asks Iqbal Singh from Bagrian in Kapurthala district. “It is a disaster.” “Today, I promised them Rs 1,500 per acre for transplanting the paddy nursery in 10 acres. Just two days days back I had paid them Rs 1,200 per acre. And this when I tell them that I will add to it if there work is good. Just imagine, the same work used to cost just me under Rs 600 per acre till last year.”
Across the paddy growing northern region, including Punjab and Haryana, farmlands have been facing a severe shortage of labourers. Ubiquitous labourers who poured in from Bihar and UP, even Jharkhand and Orissa have dried up, content to stay home and take advantage of work provided under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
(NREGA). What has compounded the crisis is the diversion of labourers in the booming construction and real estate sectors, both in this region and in the native states of the migrants. Though there is no authentic data or official number on this, a workforce of an estimated 2-3 lakh arrive here for farm operations each year. This time, many say, not even half of that has come in. “When the migratory labourers can find equally profitable work at their doorsteps, why should they be travelling long distances and suffer back-breaking work in other states where often they are treated as second-class citizens,” said a government official in the agriculture department.
Director, agriculture, B S Sidhu has a different explanation. “Earlier, the labour force used to come to Punjab sometime by March-end, at the beginning of the harvesting season, and would stay put till paddy sowing was complete by July-end. This assured them ample work for nearly four months. But increased mechanization of farm operations, especially in wheat production, has reduced the duration of employability for them and predictably of the work force has shown a dwindling trend since the past six years or so.”
from: Times of India, 19 June 2008

Increase of rural wage labour and minimum wage in Gujarat

»July 18: In an important development, the Gujarat government has doubled the rates of minimum wages for the agricultural labourers from Rs 50 to 100. Apart from the increasing human population, the other primary reason for the growing number of farm labourers in the last three decades or so is the “land alienation,” where small and marginal farmers are forced to sell their land due to lack of irrigation and other agriculture-related facilities. This class of farmers are thus being increasingly reduced to landless labourers. The number of agriculture labourers that stood at a little over 18.87 lakhs in Gujarat in 1971 has shot up to a staggering 51.61 lakhs as per the census conducted in 2001.
Government sources further say that seven years after the 2001 census, the population of farm labourers in Gujarat has swelled to over 60 lakhs«. The major increase of the minimum wage is interesting in itself and poses further questions: why did the government opted for the increase and will it actually be paid. And to which extend does the increase function as a migration control measure: the minimum wage for industrial (urban) workers in Gujarat is about 60 to 70 Rs, considerably lower now than the wages for agricultural labour!

The NREGA and the control of rural proletariat

The misery on the Indian countryside is blatant, any sort of income is necessary. Millions applied for jobs within the framework of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which is supposed to be implemented all over India in summer 2008. According to official data, the NREGA was employing nearly three million workers on an average day in 2006-07 (when the Act was in force in 200 districts). As the Act is extended to the whole of rural India, this could rise to 10 million or so – the largest public works programme ever. The Act “guarantees” 100 days of paid work for one person per household. The official wages vary from state to state, ranging from 60 Rs per day to 130 Rs. The Act prohibits the use of machinery. It is a labour intensive work-scheme to build infrastructure: roads, wells, canals etc.. The local village council functions as supervisor and receives the funds. The scheme is a battlefield: local activists, NGOs, Maoists fight for the proper implementations of the scheme, against the corruption of the (upper class and caste) village councils, for the full payment of wages, for providing the full amount of working-days. NREGA activists have been shot dead in this battle. Many of the capitalist farmers organisations criticise the Act as responsible for rising wages in the agriculture sector. The fact is that the Act is a state response to an increasing chaos and social turmoil on the Indian countryside, using the dependency of the rural proletariat on any sort of income to control their movements, to strengthen “local governance”, to make labour-intensive use of their work-force. Or as two NGO members put it affirmatively:
“Focusing on support structures at the panchayat (village council) and block level can actually help a working system that can allow panchayats to become an effective tier of local self-governance. The NREGS has been one of the biggest programmes to combat rural poverty. Its legal guarantees have radically altered the relationship of the poor with the state”.
from: Indian Express, 2 February 2008

Other “modernist” voices complain about the “manual character” of the scheme, demanding “better education” being part of the program:
“Absurdly, the NREGA bans machines and contractors. This was supposedly a move to prevent the exploitation of villagers. But it is only serving to keep them in the Dark Ages, even as we talk of a new urban India. Whether it is digging ponds, making or repairing roads or building check dams, all these are achieved manually. The world’s largest social security scheme is only creating millions of labourers”.
from: Hindustan Times, 2 January 2008

A descriptive view from Haryana:
“On the outskirts of Ghukanwali village in Sirsa district in Haryana, arid, uneven land stretches out as far as the eye can see. Men and women of all ages are going back and forth carrying mud from the hillock to a depression nearby. No clang of machines at work, no roar of engines, only the quiet sound of work in progress while the sun rays beat down. The labour is absorbed in earning its Rs 135 a day under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
The women at the site of work are upbeat about “earning their living”. While some would work at home, there were others who went to work in fields of zamindars to earn a pittance.
“We used to get Rs 60 to Rs 80 after a whole day in the field. Now, we get the full payment without having to argue or haggle,” remarks Kesho Devi while Manjit Kaur adds that labouring at such sites is more respectable than working in the fields. “I wish this would go on instead of limiting work to 100 days a year,” she says.
After the work of levelling of land is complete, the labour will be again out of job and will have to wait for another project to begin. However, that does not mean that they can slow down the work for there are special appointees to keep tab on everybody’s efforts.
Job cards in hand, the labour is certain that it will not be cheated and get its day’s due. These works are primarily dominated by the fairer sex since most of the men go out of the village to work or are committed to work for zamindars.
Sarpanch (head of local village council) Kuldesh Rani says it has revived the sagging strength of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (local council) which are central to this scheme. All projects of the village are first identified at gram sabha meetings. According to revised guidelines, the payments are to be made through bank accounts and no hard cash is to be given. The panchayats (council members) and the villagers are opposed to the move. While the panchayat is keen on making payments itself, the labour feels that it would be troublesome to get the money”.
from: The Tribune, 23 June 2008, by Geetanjali Gayatri

A different voice on the systemic corruption within the scheme, this time from Andhra Pradesh.
“There are complaints of rip-offs. “We’ve been paid only Rs 30 a day,” says an angry P. Mallamma in Mosangi. The record says they got Rs 84 a day. K. Kalamma says she has “worked for over a month, without being paid.” Even a former deputy sarpanch, Saiddulu, has not been paid for a week’s work. He is well over 60 – yet another older person returning to work, driven by food costs. “Why only 100 days of work,” ask people. And they do not get those 100 days fully. The second is the rule of only one member per family being able to use it. Third are the usual local problems. Payment delays for one. Though Andhra Pradesh seems to be ahead of several other States, this remains a problem. “People here have waited four months to get much less than what was owed to them,” says Mallamma. “People are recorded as working when they did not work. Others are not recorded as working when they did,” says B. Ramaiah in Vadlaparthi village of Nalgonda”.
from: Hindustan Times, January 31, 2008

And finally a recent example struggling NGERA workers from Tamil Nadu
Rural job scheme: wage cut irks workers
“Villagers who are the beneficiaries of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) are complaining that the wages paid to them have been gradually reduced, much to their disappointment. On Friday last, about 3,000 workers resorted to picketing in Dindigul.
On Monday, the villagers of Chettinayakkanpatti came to the collectorate in large numbers to submit a petition against the low wages being paid to them under the programme. They said that originally, the daily wages they received was Rs 80 but it was reduced to Rs 70 and 65 and finally now they were paid only Rs 45 as wages.
Workers argue that the officials were adopting impossible measures to assess the quantum of work done by them, in order to deny them the guaranteed wages”.
from: Express News Service – July 1 2008 12:17 IST

The teenage guns of the new rich flashing

End of 2007 Gurgaon was big in the Indian news. In the elite-school “Euro International” a teenager was shot dead by a group of school mates. A superficial discussion about the “Americanization” of India started, all kind of culturalist-conservative interpretations were churned out. Some more serious efforts were made to understand the background of the incident: the changing structure of Gurgaon’s upper-middle classes, the internal split between the urban elite and the local rural nouveau rich, who came to money by selling their land. As a tool necessary for his profession, the gun belonged to a father of the accused school-kids. He is a local property dealer. The deals involve loads of cash and therefore life danger. As a property dealer he takes part in the conversion of landed peasants into rent bourgeoisie. The shooting can be seen as a sad biproduct of this violent transformation process…
“And that is why so many people begin their description of Gurgaon by saying, The thing about this place is its really a gaon (Gaon: village). Because of the way Gurgaon came to be acquired and built gradually, large swathes of farmland were parcelled out even as villagers hung onto their pockets of homes, which cluster in the shadows of sleekness. Some took profits and bought into new societies clinically named sectors, renting out the old place to migrants or relatives. Flush with cash or rental income, locals seek the same power, purchasing and political, as the newcomers, observes Sanjay Sharma, who runs a real estate company and the portal, Gurgaon Scoop. They shop in the same malls, attend the same resident welfare association meetings and send their children to the same schools. But they are not the same.
There is a struggle between people who are here and people who have come from outside, says Sharma, a returnee from the US. His attempt to videotape a community meeting in his sector recently resulted in a brawl and seven stitches on his upper lip. Locals here are quite bottled up. They have money but they are not well read. A new awareness is coming to Gurgaon and locals, they want their kids to learn English. By virtue of shunning government schools, the families of the three boys involved in the shooting seem to hold this aspiration. Media outlets reported that the family of the victim, Abhishek Tyagi, moved into Gurgaon city from their nearby village so he and his sister could attend Euro International.
Police say the gun came from one suspects father, a property dealer. Why so many in Gurgaon feel they even need a gun is a question as loaded as the weapon. Status symbol, yes. A response to the general lawlessness outside gated compounds, indeed. Police also say real estate agents brandish guns because so many transactions are a combination of cheque and cash (translation: illegal)”.
“There is an urban Gurgaon touted as India’s Millennium City and a rural Gurgaon largely seen as a cluster of villages. And though the stark divide between the old and new Gurgaon as represented in these two voices may appear to be nothing new, the recent killing of a 14-year old boy in an upscale Gurgaon school by his own classmates has brought the underlying tensions of these two Gurgaons into the open. The fact that the victim and the two accused hail from rural but well-to-do families has given Gurgaons more urban residents a chance to vent out their true feelings about their rural counterparts. The lure of skyrocketing property prices made big land owners from nearby villages of Gurgaon sell their land and move to the city to give their children a better life. But the urban residents say they have also brought along with them their own regressive mindsets”.
from: A clash in class, of class, http://www.livemint.com/2007/12/13232123/A-clash-in-class-of-class.html , by S. Mitra Kalita, and December 2007

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** German Booklet
Supplement of the latest issue of Wildcat – 80 pages summary on proletarian life and struggles – available end of August 2008.For orders see: http://www.wildcat-www.de

*** 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 (summer 2007):

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.9/12”

  1. neeraj Says:

    BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF INDIA
    shame on the companies who are paying less than
    Rs.3500/- to their employees that too without PF and ESI and should be taken to task by the government of haryana for not obeying the rule of land
    please give wide publicity ti this artical
    NK SHARMA

  2. Govind Shukla Says:

    Hi,

    Land (Approx.3000Sq. Feet ) is available on lease on prime location on main road in Garhi Harsaru, Gurgaon, 2-3 Km from pataudi road on highway the road goes to Express WAY.

    I am interested in giving land for factory building/mobile towers on lease.

    Land is in prime location, free from any encumbrances, suitable for factory and mobile tower.

    Interested person may contact me-

    9582228173


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