gurgaon-center-b3

Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 20 (September 2009)

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 Septeber 2009 issue you can find:

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

*** Short workers’ reports from various factories in Gurgaon -
Reports were given to and re-distributed by Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar in June/July 2009. Most of the 22 reports are from textile export companies.

*** A nocturnal roof-top conversation: Skilled textile workers talk about changes in technology and work-organisation undermining their power -
A roof-top in Kapas Hera, Gurgaon. Surrounded by 80 sleeping work-mates, old and young textile workers talk about changes in the local textile industry since the 1980s: comparing exploitation in work-shops to exploitation in factories, describing the deterioration of the position of skilled workers due to new division of labour and computer-controlled machines.

*** The daily railway bad trip to work -
Report by a worker about the conditions and an accident on his daily railway journey to work.

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

*** The Youth is Getting Restless / Hidden Struggles in Okhlas Textile Factories -
The following reports are given by skilled textile workers. Their experiences of rebellion take place on the background of a level of exploitation reaching human physical limits (see short reports), and the efforts to further increase productivity through changes in work-organisation (see roof-top conversation). Squeezed between these two front-lines of ‘capitalist progress’ the youth in the export factories are getting restless. Unistyle and Liliput textile workers are strike happy and Wearwell workers not only know how to fist-fight, they also know how to deal with police and management repression afterwards.

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

*** Future Deads for Sure -
Dozens died in the Lakhani factory fire – see GurgaonWorkersNews no.18 – dozens are injured every day either at work or at home. Town planners ignore the crumbling foundations of their high-rising buildings and they gamble with future dead by neglecting their own pathetic-helpless urban fire safety measures. A summary of a main-stream article on the issue.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** Some Video-Interviews with Workers from Faridabad/Gurgaon now Online -
You can find some interviews with workers from Faridabad/Gurgaon on http://www.visions-of-labor.org. They will be part of a documentary coming out in late autumn this year. If you can give us a hand with translating subtitles from Hindi into English for a workers’ experience focussed documentary on Gurgaon/Faridabad please contact us.

*** 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

*** Short workers’ reports from various factories in Gurgaon -

Reports were given to and re-distributed by Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar in June/July 2009.

Aina Fashion Worker
(Plot 893, Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The helpers get 2,500 Rs, the 60 tailors are on piece rate; they don’t get ESI or PF. The drinking water is bad, the latrine dirty. If you leave the job you have trouble getting your outstanding wages.

Alankar Creation Worker
(Plot 410, Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
All 500 workers in the factory are hired through contractors. The quality manager and the general manager swear at you, they make you work longer, the general manager sometimes hits workers. We currently work from 9 am till 5:30 am the next morning. This is 300 to 400 hours of over-time per month. If they make you work till 5:30 am they won’t let you leave the factory afterwards, at 9 am work starts again. Over-time is paid at single rate. If the clients come for a visit the management displays on a board that 3,841 Rs is paid, while the wage is actually 3,590 Rs. From this money is cut for ESI and PF. 200 to 400 Rs is embezzled from your wage each month.

http://www.alankarcreations.com/aboutus.html

Brown Swick Investment Worker
(Plot 629, Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
The 350 workers working in the factory are hired through a contractor. Work starts at 9 am and the end of shift is not fixed; we often work till 2 am. We do about 150 hours of over-time a month, paid at single rate. The wages of the helpers is 3,840 Rs the tailors get 4,100 Rs to 4,300 Rs. Money is cut for ESI and PF… but after two to four months the company card is changed, the name of the contracting company changes, and when people leave the job only few workers actually get PF. The drinking water is bad, latrines are dirty and the bosses swear at you a lot.

Eastern Medikit Worker
The factory is situated on plot 292 in Udyog Vihar Phase 2. The work load is extreme. People have a lot of accidents with the needles they manufacture. The company does not pay the January DA of 176 Rs. The over-time pay for May hasn’t been paid yet (27th of June 2009). This is the case in all four factories. The casuals are dismissed after six months – if you complain that 500 Rs have been embezzled from your last wage they insult you.

http://www.medikit.com/

Gaurav International Workers
One of the factories is situated on plot 208 in Udyog Vihar Phase1. In the finishing department 100 workers are employed, they always work 12-hours night-shifts, without the obligatory change to day-shifts. Many workers are ill, but they neither get ESI, nor PF. A lot of verbal abuse and pushing around is going on. In the computer embroidery department 150 workers work 12-hours day and night-shifts. In this department the shifts change and workers get ESI and PF. But they also won’t get days off, and they also have to face a lot of verbal abuse. The drinking water is bad. Another factory is on Plot 225 in Udyog Vihar Phase 1. The company hired 400 workers through contractors – and they don’t pay for their work. In January I went back to my village after having worked 25 days. When I came back I asked for my wages, but they refused to pay.

http://www.nafabs.com/

Grafty Fashion Worker
(Plot 377, Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
The helpers get 3,665 Rs for a 10-hours day and 26-days working month. According to the minimum wage fixed by the government they should get 3,840 Rs for an 8-hours day.

Instyle Worker
(Plot 140, Udyog Vihar Phase1)
They added the 176 Rs DA to the April wage, but did not pay it for the time from January till March 2009. They won’t give you time off. If you fall ill they stop issuing you a gate pass. There is a lot of verbal abuse going on. The latrines are very dirty.

Jyoti Apparels Worker
(Plot 159, Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
Working-times are from 9:15 am till 1 am, on 30 days of the month – this amounts to 150 to 200 hours of over-time per month, paid at single rate. Only half of the 650 workers get ESI and PF. The drinking water is bad. The 176 Rs DA from January 2009 onwards have not been paid. The company does not pay the obligatory bonus. Workers who leave the job don’t get the fund money.

http://www.indianexporters.com/om-jyoti-apparels-com-555546169.html

Kalamkari Worker
(Plot 383, Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The main problem for the 500 workers in the factory is drinking water. We work 80 to 100 hours of over-time per month, at 1.5 rate.

http://www.gurgaonchamber.org/Members_GurgaonChamber/List_K.htm

Kamal Enterprises Worker
The factory is on plot A-122 in Udyog Vihar Phase 5. The daily working-times are from 8 am till 1 am, on thirty days per month. In March 2009 I worked 222 hours over-time, in April it was 228 hours and during the first half of May 110 hours. The over-time is paid at single rate and each month 8 to 16 hours get embezzled. When you arrive ten minutes late they swear at you and cut one hour from your wage. If you leave work after the lunch break they mark you for the whole day as absent. They say they pay 3,500 Rs to the helpers, actually they give 2,500 Rs. The wage of the operators is 3,000 to 4,500 Rs. Here 30 workers do the finishing work for Sandhar Components, situated in Sector 7 in IMT Manesar, a company that supplies Hero Honda. No ESI, no PF and bad drinking water – we have to go to a different factory to get water. There is no latrine – if you go to your room during working hours they mark you as absent for the day, so you have to find a spot on the road.

Kanchan International Worker
The factory is on plot 872 in Udyog Vihar Phase 5. There used to be 150 workers employed, now there are 50 left. Throughout the year the wages are delayed. The May 2008 wage and the wages of the following months were not paid, only after a complaint to the labour department they were paid in October 2008. In December 2008 the delays started again. They paid 500 to 1,000 Rs, not the whole wage. Some got their January and February 2009 wages on 21st of May. We haven’t received our March and April wages yet (24th of May 2009). The over-time money for 2002 hasn’t been paid. We produce clothes for Ambos, Walter and Soma. No ESI, no PF.

http://www.alibaba.com/member/kanchanint.html

Karigars Worker
(Plot 251, Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
We work 150 hours of over-time per month, paid at single rate, the ‘in-charge’ threatens us, sometimes hits people.

http://yellowpages.b4uindia.com/Karigars.html

Niti Clothing Worker
(Plot 218, Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The 650 workers employed in the factory don’t get ESI or PF. The 100 female workers get 2,600 Rs per month. The latrines are very dirty. When the clients turn up everything is very clean, suddenly there are masks and gloves available and the First Aid Kit is re-stocked. When they have left, everything is back to how it was.

Orchid Overseas Worker
The factory is on plot 133 in Udyog Vihar Phase 1. The helpers amongst the permanent work-force get 3,840 Rs, the casuals 2,800 and the helpers hired through contractors get 2,400 Rs. Amongst the 1,450 workers 50 might get ESI and PF. Shift-times are from 8:30 am till 9 pm, over-time is paid less than single rate, about 12 to 15 Rs per hour.

Richa and Company Worker
(Plot 239, Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
They used to pay the first two hours of daily over-time at double rate, since April all over-time is paid at single rate.

Riddhima Export Worker
(Plot 662, Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
The helpers get 3,000 to 3,200 Rs. No ESI, no PF. If you ask for the minimum wage they insult you. If you leave the job they won’t pay the last 20 to 25 days of work.

http://www.company400.com/company/indusud.html

S&R Export Worker
The factory is on plot 298 in Udyog Vihar Phase 2. I have worked at S&R for one and a half years and during all that time they pay the minimum wage for 8 hours for a 10-hour day. It is heavy work with glass and brass, they swear at you, sometimes hit you.

Sahiba International Worker
The factory is situated on plot 75a in sector 18 in Gurgaon. Working there was a bitter experience. You had to start working at 9 am and would finish work at 10 pm – but on 12 to 18 days per month they would make you stay till 2 am. On Sundays they would let you go at 4 pm or 6 pm. Over-time was paid at single rate. It was very hot inside the factory. The managers shouted a lot, swore, would sneak behind you to the toilets and have a go at you if you stayed there to long. No worker got ESI or PF, I don’t know about the staff. PF money was cut arbitrarily in the name of Shalu Internationals; a lot of money disappeared. The attendance was noted down on unofficial documents, there were no wage slips, only vouchers. The helpers got 80 – 85 – 90 Rs for an 8-hours shift. The drinking water was bad. There was only one latrine for female and three for male workers – you always had to queue up. When clients arrived from Italy, France or Japan everything was made look clean and the managers were always with them – those workers who looked younger than 18 years were sent to the third floor. Even when you were ill you did not get a day off. One worker who had been sent to the factory in Manesar got seriously injured in a fire accident; we all donated some money for his medical examination – because the management was afraid that the accident would become known they sent him for treatment. Later on the management told the contractor that this worker wouldn’t be employed in the factory anymore, because everyone would be able to see his burn marks.

http://www.asklaila.com/listing/Delhi-NCR/Sector+18/Sahiba+International/0MFFQ6GC/

Security Guard
I work for Pentagon Security – the office is in 74/2 Chattarpur Road, Maidan Garhi, Delhi. We work 12-hour shifts, 30 days per month. For these working-hours the guards get 3,000 Rs per month, the supervisors 4,000 Rs. Out of 400 guards 20 get ESI and PF. Managers swear at us, sometimes they push us around.

Security Guard
(Office: L-194 Mahilpalpur, Delhi)
I work for Delta Security. Delta Security employs 30,000 guards, from Agra to Mumbai. In Gurgaon 1,500 Delta guards work in Five Star hotels, in shopping malls, in factories. We work 12-hours a day, 30 days a month. If you work 30 night-shifts they pay you 5,000 Rs. During the first 3 to 4 months of employment ESI and PF is not given, then they say that ESI and PF will be given, actually 288 Rs per month gets embezzled for the funds.

Spark Worker
(Plot 166, Udyog Vihar Phase1)
Currently we work from 9 am till 4 am next morning. This way we do 200 hours of over-time per month, paid at single rate, 200 to 300 Rs get embezzled. The helpers’ wage is 3,510 Rs. The money for over-time worked in May has not been paid yet (27th of June 2009). Out of 1,000 workers may be 2 to 4 get ESI and PF. And there is only one latrine.

Superior Graft Worker
(Plot 531, Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
The 80 tailors in the factory do not get ESI and PF. Due to the shrinking demand of the market the tailors on piece rate or in trouble. Out of 1,500 workers only 30 are permanent. They get double rate payment for their over-time, the rest do not.

Viva Global Worker
The factory is on plot 413 in Udyog Vihar Phase 3. The tailors have to work in extreme heat, the drinking water is warm, as well. If you fall ill they kick you out. On 22nd of May 2009 an over-worked worker fell unconscious. Working times are from 9:30 am till 8 pm. Over-time is paid at single rate.

http://www.vivaglobal.com/

*** A nocturnal roof-top conversation: Skilled textile workers talk about changes in technology and work-organisation undermining their power -

Kapas Hera, a former village in Gurgaon in walking distance to the huge industrial area Udyog Vihar Phase 1, now home of many factory workers. A roof-top. In the house below live 400 factory workers, three to four share a room, the rent is about 1,000 Rs. The rooms have no windows, so many people decide to sleep on the roof. People sit in circles and talk, some sleep, some arrive late from work. In our circle sit four friends aged between 19 and 55, all skilled tailors, working in different companies in Gurgaon. They tell us about their experiences.

“I come from Bihar, I arrived in Delhi in the early 1970s, since then I work as a tailor. Most of these years I worked for ‘fabricators’, in small unofficial workshops, like you still find them, for example, in Hauz Rani (see newsletter no.7). The work-atmosphere in these workshops was much different from the atmosphere in the factories now. We basically all lived in the workshop – so we also did not have to pay rent. We would cook and eat and work and sleep there together. The working-time was not that fixed. Today you are sent back home from the factory gate or your half-day’s wage get cut when you arrive one minute late at work – even when you are on piece rate work. In the workshops you would have your breakfast and bath and start working when you like. You are on piece-rate, so you are master over your time. You can take a break in the evening and go to the cinema, if you like. You might then work till 3 am and sleep in”.

“I arrived in Delhi in the late 1970s, but then I decided to move to Nepal in the 1980s, I worked in textile factories there for about ten years. Then the political turmoil caused a lot of factories to close down. I moved back to Delhi, then to Gurgaon. My friends told me to come with them to Madras, they say that you can earn 8,000 Rs as a tailor there, but I don’t want to move again. In Madras people don’t speak Hindi, and it’s far away again. But even Manesar, which is only 20 or 25 km away seems like too far. Maybe not because of the distance, but because the factories are new there and there are even less facilities for workers. Here you find a room quickly, you know some people, the drinking water is ok. In Manesar I heard that you are not safe, that people get robbed and so on”.

“I then worked in factories in Okhla, that was in the 1990s. There people would not have that time and space like in the ‘fabricators’ workshops. They live in rented rooms nearby, you have to arrive at the factory in time, take your breaks in time. We then still worked ‘full-piece’, meaning that one tailor would sew the whole piece. We started hearing about ‘chain-systems’ in the late 1990s, but this system was not implemented in the factories in Okhla. It was only when I came to Gurgaon Udyog Vihar in 1998 when I actually worked in ‘chain-system’ for the first time. Now there might be 400-500-600 textile factories in Udyog Vihar Phase 1, in 1998 there were two or three, like Gopal Clothing or Fashion Express. Then a lot of factories moved from Delhi to Gurgaon. I worked at Modelama as a permanent worker for quite some time. During that time, from 1998 to 2001, the chain-system’ became dominant in all factories. Now 20 to 25 tailors work on one piece. They might still be on piece rate, but they would just do the collars, just do the pockets and so on. The piece-rate for the whole piece came down a lot. Less people are necessary due to the increase in productivity. In 1998 I earned something like 2,200 Rs, now I earn around 4,000 Rs. A cup of tea in 1998 was 1 Rs, now it is 3 Rs, even 4 Rs. Another difference between ‘full-piece’ and ‘chain-system’ is the fact that you don’t need that much experience. Nowadays you find dozens of schools in Kapas Hera and the surrounding areas, where you pay 700 Rs for a week’s course in tailoring. After that you can work in the ‘chain system’. It takes much longer – a year or longer – to become a proper tailor”.

“And it is not only the ‘chain-system’ that puts pressure on people. Together with this system more and more tasks are done by computer controlled machines, like cutting and embroidery. Nowadays you have even thread cutting machines, which replace all the women who used to do this ‘unskilled’ work. If you want to work as a full-piece tailor you have to try to get a job in the sampling departments, this is where the first pieces are made which are then mass-produced in the production departments. Or you have to go back to the ‘fabricator’ workshops, but there the rates are low. I just quit a job at Orient Leather after only 18 days. It is a huge factory, around 1,000 workers, but the offered rates were just too bad”.

*** The daily railway bad trip to work -

For six years I have been commuting between Faridabad and Delhi every day. Stampedes and huge crowds, jumping onto moving EMUs (commuter trains), hanging outside of the train carriers… In these years I have seen many accidents. On Friday, 29th of May 2009, a student crashed his head against a signal shortly after the train left Ballabhgarh station. His friends and me dragged the student inside the carrier. His head was bleeding and he was unconscious. We immediately informed the railway police at Old Faridabad Station. But when we arrived at the station there was no police on the platform. We lifted the student off the train and the train left. At this point he was alive. In the station there is no ambulance, no doctor, no First Aid. We waited next to the injured for ten minutes, then some railway staff arrived. He was still bleeding… While for us the whole situation was very unsettling, for them everything seemed rather like business as usual. The railway police guy was rude. They put the injured onto a stretcher and carried him outside the station. In a hired auto-rickshaw the student were brought to a hospital. The atmosphere in the hospital was extremely harsh… The student later died.

Deaths on the tracks and deaths in order to build them: on 12th of July 2009 several construction worker – exploited to build the Delhi Metro line – died, crushed by a huge steel part. The accident only made it into the news because the steel part also crushed the main water lines of the area. At least two more fatal accidents on the Metro site had happened by end of July.

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

*** The Youth are Getting Restless / Hidden Struggles in Okhla Textile Factories -

The following reports are given by skilled textile workers, their experiences of rebellion take place on the background of a level of exploitation reaching human physical limits – see short reports in this newsletter – and the efforts to further increase productivity through changes in work-organisation – see roof-top conversation in this newsletter. Squeezed between these two front-lines of ‘capitalist progress’ the youth in the export factories are getting restless. Unistyle and Liliput textile workers are strike happy and Wearwell workers not only know how to fist-fight, but also how to deal with police and management repression afterwards.

Liliput Workers

On 11th of April 2009 about 600 skilled tailors struck work in the Liliput Kids Wear factory (D-3 Okhla Phase 1) in order to increase the piece-rate payment. Two managers were beaten up after they tore a cardboard on which another skilled worker had written the demand “25 Rs per hour”. The factory kept on running, but on 12th of April the tailors did not resume work. On Monday the police stopped the skilled workers at the gate: if you want to work, go inside; if you won’t work, stay outside. As no-one went inside the police started to disperse the crowd with a lathi attack. After the intervention of the Parishad the police withdrew from the gate and the tailors went inside the factory. The company offered to increase the rate from 18 to 19 Rs, but the tailors did not agree. When work still did not resume on 14th of April the first rumours about dismissals emerged… some 10 or 12 workers who had talked too openly and loudly during the dispute were made to hand in their notice one by one – and the company had them beaten up by some young goons when they had left the factory. It is known that the company pays 20 Rs in the NOIDA factory – here work resumed for 19 Rs when the company told us to. While the tailors were on strike the workers in the finishing, washing and cutting-department had continued working. On 18th of April the company started to shift machines to NOIDA.

Unistyle Workers

The factory is situated on plot B-51 in Okhla Phase 1. In the factory 200 workers are employed, only 10 by the company itself. The women workers who cut threads get 80 Rs for an 8-hours shift. The rest of the workers work longer hours, starting at 9 am and finishing at midnight. For a certain order of garments the tailors were asking for 25 Rs per piece, but the company offered 15 Rs. The tailors answered by stopping work on 30th of January 2009. The manager told them to go back to work and that he will talk to the company director. After two hours he said that he could not fix a new rate yet. The tailors stopped working again. On 31st of January 2009 we worked for four hours, but after not getting the desired rate we stopped the machines again. The same on the 1st and 2nd of February. On 3rd and 4th of February we did not work at all, we sat inside the factory and the machines did not run. On 5th of February at 12 am – after having seen us sit idle the whole day – the company offered a rate of 20 Rs and work resumed. In the end they gave 19.5 Rs per piece. In the company documents shown to the client they note down a rate which is 2 Rs higher – the 2 Rs are cashed by the production manager and the contractor. And the story continues. In May 2009 we had to work on an order for Elisa and Mara. On 30th of May 2009 the company announced a piece rate of 11.65 Rs and 28.85 Rs for the order. Hearing this the 40 tailors stopped working. The company then offered 13 Rs and 32 Rs respectively, but the tailors refused the offer and demanded 17.80 Rs and 40 Rs instead. The strike continued on 30th and on 31st of May. The conflict continued in June 2009. On 13th of June the tailors stopped work and reiterated their demand for 40 Rs per Elisa T-Shirt. On 15th of June management at first repeated their offer of 32 Rs, when the tailors refused they offered 35 Rs. The tailors were still not happy and refused work – the pressure from the contractor’s master made no serious impression on them. On 16th of June all machines were silent till 12:30 pm, the company’s ‘in-charge’ then offered 37 Rs. The tailors decided to start working after the lunch break. While the tailors were on strike the workers in the finishing department continued working, but only 8 instead of 11 hours. The 20 female workers who cut threads in the finishing department still get only 2,300 to 2,400 Rs per month.
In July 2009 the young worker told us that in the end they succeeded in increasing the piece rate by 50 per cent – but after the order was finished the management announced in mid-July that for the next two weeks there won’t be any work available…

Wearwell Workers

The factory is situated on Plot B-134 in Okhla Phase 1. One of the main buyers of Wearwell is Marks and Spencer.

http://www.marksandspencer.com/

Workers have to work from 9 am till 1 am. Management swears at us a lot. Over-time is paid at single rate, you have to pay 20 Rs for a meal in the factory, but the food is pathetic. The 150 to 200 casual workers don’t get ESI or PF. The 25 women workers who cut threads get 1,800 to 2,000 Rs per month.
On the 9th of July 2009 at 10 pm about 400 workers had to squeeze through a side entrance in order to get out for their break. Officially work stops at 9 pm, all over-time is paid unofficially. A security guard started pushing people with his lathi, a dangerous situation given the masses of people in a very confined space. Some workers pushed him back, five more security guards arrived and started hitting with their lathis. Workers got rather angry about that, all the workers present got engaged in beating up the security guards. The management called the cops, the cops asked for names. Workers answered that they would all beat up the guards and that they would beat up the manager, as well. The cops left after mumbling some empty threats. Work continued as usual till 1 am. The next day management singled out six young workers – they told them that they would pay 20,000 Rs to the police in order to take them to the police station and beat them up. A common practice in Delhi’s industrial areas. What is unusal is the fact that management did not suspend these workers! First of all, because they were unsure about the reaction of the other hundreds of workers, both permanents and casuals, after having seen their joint fist-fight with the guards and their behaviour in front of the police. Secondly, because in the charge and suspension letter they would have to admit that the factory was running at 10 pm, while it should have been closed. The workers were not too impressed. The following day they were ordered to the police station. The police and a middle-man were present. They asked the workers for 1,500 Rs in order to settle things. On 8th of August five workers were stopped at the factory gate to take their final dues, but they refused. The Workers inside protested and 21 more workers have been stopped at the gate. A union middle-man started to negotiate about leaving pay, but by end of August things remained unsettled. One of many little conflicts under the surface. To be continued…

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

*** Future Deads for Sure -

Dozens died in the Lakhani factory fire – see GurgaonWorkersNews no.18 – dozens are injured every day either at work or at home – see Sahiba International worker’s report in this issue. In a city with thousands of crammed-explosive factories and hundreds of plastic-tarpaulin slums, fire safety is nothing but a deadly illusion.
Town planners ignore the crumbling foundations of their high-rise buildings and they gamble with future dead by neglecting their own pathetic-helpless urban fire safety measures. The following is a summary of a main-stream article on the matter.

Gurgaon falls short on fire safety front
(Times of India, 24th of June 2009)
The Millennium City may take pride in its over 185 high rises, numerous shopping malls, glitzy office complexes and mega industrial units, but when it comes to basic fire-fighting necessities, the city paints a pathetic picture. Monday’s blaze in a sport goods factory at Kherki Dhaula is a case in point. As the 15 fire tenders available with the Gurgaon fire department proved sadly inadequate, the administration had to turn to the Air Force, the fire department of Rewari and some major industrial units nearby for help. The picture only becomes grimmer. In a city with a population of over 20 lakh, there are three fire stations Sector 29, Bheemnagar and Sector 37. Manpower shortage is another area of concern. “The department had sought 603 personnel while there are only 106 staff working in all three stations. Until the time when there is sufficient manpower, the department cannot work efficiently,” added Sihag, fire station officer, Sector 29. Said a senior fire official: “According to the byelaws, a building exceeding 15 metres is termed a high rise. The buildings are expected to follow safety norms as per the national building laws code, part IV. It is mandatory for every high-rise to install hose reel, down-comer, yard hydrant, auto sprinkler system, manually operated electric fire alarm systems, automatic detection and alarm system and underground static water storage tank as inbuilt fire-fighting techniques. However, because of lack of sufficient number of staff we cannot regularly inspect buildings and decided whether they are adhering to laws or not.”

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** Some Video-Interviews with Workers from Faridabad/Gurgaon now Online -

You can find some interviews with workers from Faridabad/Gurgaon on

http://visions-of-labour.org/topic.php?clipId=17&Viam=Feature

They will be part of a documentary coming out in late autumn this year. If you can give us a hand with translating subtitles from Hindi into English for a workers’ experience focussed documentary on Gurgaon/Faridabad please contact us.

*** 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.

One Response to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.9/20”


  1. A very good attempt indeed. Let us all unite to help each other and fight to finish the expoitation of the system.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 177 other followers

%d bloggers like this: