Locked-Out Denso Workers, Manesar 26th of February 2010

GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 23 (March 2010)

Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of capitalist success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. At a first glance the office towers and shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young middle class people lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts in call centres, selling loan schemes to working-class people in the US or pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door, thousands of rural-migrant workers uprooted by the agrarian crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; on the outskirts of Gurgaon, Asia’s biggest Special Economic Zone is in the making. The following newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable boom region. If you want to know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project, please do so via:

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

In the March 2010 issue you can find:

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

*** Hundreds Hotspots of Potential “Internal Threat” / Workers’ Reports from Gurgaon Factories -
While the Indian government declares a small armed Maoist guerilla as the ‘biggest internal threat’ their economic miracle produces a mass base of diffuse discontent in the industrial areas across the country. Please read these reports in conjunction with the article on food price inflation in this newsletter! The following short reports were gathered by Faridabad Majdoor Samachar during the distribution of their newspaper in Winter 2009/2010.

*** Food Price Inflation, Farmers Supply-Chain Management and Urban Re-armament –
The food and transport prices are soaring, the nominal minimum wage hikes are minimal and the internal security fear is on the rise. Short overview on the matter followed by reports given by proletarians of the security sector: the potential angry brigade of/against neoliberal law and order.

*** Two Random Encounters -
Short conversations with a locked-out worker employed in the defense industry and a boxing farmer’s son in a Faridabad train, pondering about the unreliable security of farmer’s life.

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

*** After Rico Strike now Trouble at Denso Car Parts Factory / Report after a Visit in Manesar -
Denso supplies Suzuki and Toyota with fuel pumps. After intending to register a union 500 permanent workers were locked-out on 17th of February 2010 – Denso management hired 300 temp workers and kept them inside the factory day and night.

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

*** NREGS: Encircle the countryside? -
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is presented as the main anti-insurrectionist welfare-measure against Maoist exploitation of rural despair – while Maoists claim that without their pressure the NREGS would not be implemented in their areas. Fragments on the social control character and conflicts around the world’s largest work-fare program.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** 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

*** Hundreds Hotspots of Potential “Internal Threat” / Workers’ Reports from Gurgaon Factories -
While the Indian government declares a small armed Maoist guerilla as the ‘biggest internal threat’ their economic miracle produces as mass base of diffuse discontent in the industrial areas across the country. The following short reports were gathered by Faridabad Majdoor Samachar during the distribution of their newspaper in Winter 2009/2010.

Bhurji Supertech / Bajaj Worker
(272 Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
The wages of the 150 to 200 helpers are between 3,000 and 3,200 Rs. They don’t get ESI or PF. There are two 12-hours shift plus 12 hours overtime on Sundays. You don’t get a single day off per month. Wages are delayed, we received the November wages on 24th of December. They only paid half the bonus for Diwali. There is no water in the toilets. They manufacture Bajaj coolers here and Bhorji Injection Moulding machines.

http://delhiyellowpages.co.in/delhi/BHURJI_SUPER_TECH_INDUSTRIES.html

Crew Bos Products / CK Worker
(172 and 199 Udyog Vihar Phase 1, plus 137 Sector-4 Manesar)
The workers in the three factories of the company have not received their October wages by 30th of November 2009. The workers produce leather goods for CK.

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

DMM Tools / Maruti Suzuki Worker
(43 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The helpers are paid 3,000 and the machine operators 3,500 Rs. We work on two shifts 10.5 hours each. Over-time is paid single rate. We manufacture parts for Maruti Suzuki. Out of 90 workers five will have ESI and PF. If you leave the job or they kick you out the last ten days of work are not paid. Managers swear a lot and the toilets are dirty.

Avery Dennison Worker
(94 Udyog Vihar, Phase 1)
In the shining new factory there are 40 of us workers who are directly hired by the company, but they say, that we are actually employed through a contractor. They demand at least 12 years of school education when hiring people, they make us operate machines and we have to sort 12-digit barcodes, nevertheless they call us unskilled and pay us only the unskilled workers minimum wage of 3,914 Rs. Officially there are three shifts of eight hours each, but they make us stay for 16 to 24 hours on stretch. We work 100 to 150 hours overtime per month, they pay double rate but 20 to 30 hours get embezzled. The manager swears at us a lot. They used to pay for food when they made us work 16 hours, but since three months they stopped paying. Because they refused doing overtime the company sacked ten workers two months ago and another two workers this week. Those sacked workers did not get the outstanding wages for the last three or four working days and they were not paid the statutory bonus – they said that the contractor will pay and gave his phone number. On the phone the contractor said that the company will pay… The work is more than hard. For the hard work of turning the dying moulds the company ordered 50 to 60 workers from outside. For a 12-hours shift they pay them 150 Rs, they do not get a proper food break, no tea break, no ESI or PF.

http://www.alibaba.com/member/in105555656/contactinfo.html

Gaurav International / GAP Worker
(198 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
More than 2,000 workers work from 9 am till 10 pm, midnight, 2 am… Only the first two hours are paid at double rate. They give you no food money when making you work till 2 am. They don’t give you a day off – even with fever you have to work. They swear at you. The factory manufactures stuff for GAP. In the Plot 236 factory the punch-card of the workers shows that working-time finishes at 6 pm, actually on 5 to 6 days per month the manager makes them work till 11 pm. These additional hours are not paid. On 23rd of December there was turmoil about this in the factory and since then they let us go at 6 pm.

http://manufacturer.indiatradepage.com/all/udyog_vihar/27/

Gulati Export House / GAP / Polo Worker
(203 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The 400 workers are hired through the company directly and everyone has ESI and PF. After leaving the job I asked the company to fill in the PF form – the pension office sent it back saying that no money was saved in the fund account. Next time I sent it the same happened. The third time I came to the factory the manager said that a the old accountant has left the job and that when the new one arrives, he will fill out the form for me…
…In the Gulati factory on Plot 2, Sarol Mor in Sector 18 the majority of the 4,000 workers are hired through contractors – non of them get ESI or PF. The wages of the helpers are 3,000 to 3,200 Rs. Daily working times are 16 hours, overtime is paid at single rate. The factory produces garments for GAP, Polo, Veritas, Style and Co. When buyers arrived to check the factory the company handed out pay slips showing double rate payment of overtime to the permanent workers. The next month they cut this extra-money from the wages.

http://www.importgenius.com/shipments/gulati-export-house.html

Jyoti Export Worker
(124 Udyog Vihar Phase 4)
The helpers wage is 3,515 Rs and the skilled workers get 4,200 to 4,300 Rs. The managers swear a lot and the manager in charge takes 500 Rs each month commission from the helpers.

http://maps.google.co.in/maps/place?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=a7f&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&resnum=0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Jyoti+Export+Gurgaon&fb=1&gl=in&hq=Jyoti+Export&hnear=Gurgaon&cid=14638944714483412565

Kailash Ribbon Worker
(403 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The helpers are paid 2,200 to 2,700 Rs, the skilled workers 3,500 to 6,000 Rs. The factory runs on two 12-hours shifts. On bank holidays and Sundays the company forces us to keep our cycles inside the factory, they lock the door and make us stay and work inside. They pay only single rate for overtime. They cut 6-8-10 hours from your wage for ‘having dozed off’. Out of 350 workers 100 might have ESI and PF.

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

Liyar Industrial Worker
(155 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
I, Vinod, started working in this factory on the 20th of November 2002 and left the job on 30th of November 2006. On the 13th of October 2007 the company sent my PF form back to me, the company had filled in the form with faulty details. In one part of the form they stated my birth date as 15th of July 1969, in a different part as 15th of July 1987. After a lot of back-and-forth the company again returned the form, saying it was refused by the pension office due to faulty details. This time they put down my name as Vinod Varma in one place, as Vinod Kumar in a different place of the form. The company does this intentionally, they try to fleece the PF fund and cause trouble over trouble for the workers. So finally, by entering November 2005 instead of November 2002 as the commencement date of my PF payment the company gobbled up three years of my pension fund.

Manis Centra Worker
(212 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The skilled tailors get 140 to 150 Rs a 9-hours shift, the helpers get 2,800 Rs per month. Normally we work till 7:30 pm, but often we are made to work till midnight. Overtime is paid at single rate. Non of the 300 workers get ESI or PF. The company slogan is: Don’t kick them out, they will leave by themselves.

Neolite / Maruti Suzuki Worker
(396 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
The factory runs 30 days per month on two 12-hours shifts manufacturing head-lights for Hero Honda, Maruti Suzuki and Tata 407. The overtime payment is at single rate.

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

Niti Clothing Worker
(218 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The thread cutting workers in the factory get 2,400 to 2,500 Rs per month, no ESI, no PF. After a year of employment a contractor took one month wages of 25 workers and disappeared… These workers were never paid. The skilled workers get 4,185 Rs per month, but when work runs out or is completed they are sent away at noon and 4 hours of already given work are not paid.

http://www.neetee.com/

Radnik Export Worker
(215 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The working-times start at 9:30 am and shift finishes at 10 pm, often they make us work till 2:30 am. Overtime payment is less than single rate. If you have to work till 2:30 am they give you food, but it is rather bad and won’t fill your stomach. Out of 1,200 to 1,300 may be 50 to 60 workers get ESI and PF. On the company web-site the management declares that they are part of some fair-trade circle and that ‘a world without exploitation’ is their goal.

http://www.radnikexports.com/

Richa and Company Worker
(239 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
The supervisor and manager take 500 Rs bribe from each helper each month. They swear a lot. In the factory on plot 193 the working-times are from 9 am till 11 pm, 1 am, sometimes the whole night. There is only one break at around 6 pm. Only the first two hours overtime are paid at double rate, after that single. Even if they make you work the whole night they don’t give money for buying food. The manager in charge and the production manager swear a lot. For a minor flaw they kick you out.

http://www.richagroup.com/group.aspx

Ridhima Overseas Worker
(662 and 790 Udyog Vihar Phase 5, plus factory in Dundahera)
After the company had not paid wages for two months 90 skilled workers on piece rate got in touch with a union in July 2008. After three months of back-and-forth between union and labour department an official came to the factory. The workers did not get the outstanding wages of 300,000 Rs. The 12 people of the middle-management (staff) had outstanding wages of 250,000 Rs. In order to keep people away from the factory premises – this is, people who might come and ask for their wages – the company placed two musclemen at the gate. In all three factories the company owes workers a lot of money.

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

Sargam Export Worker
(152 Udyog Vihar Phase 1)
We work 150 hours of overtime per month – They pay at double rate. The supervisors take 300 Rs per month from workers’ wages, if you refuse, they swear at you and give you so much trouble that your are forced to leave the job. From the overtime money 200 to 300 Rs are embezzled, as well. The factory on Plot 152 is used as the finishing department, while the production work – tailoring – is done in the factories on Plot 153 and 210 in Phase 1 and Plot 224 and 540 in Phase 5. The company pays the minimum wage and there is ESI and PF officially cut from wages, but there is a lot of conflict and bribery around that issue. They don’t give you an ESI card. They don’t give you time off. There was little work in October 2009, but still there were about 400 workers per factory floor in the Plot 152 factory – today there are 700 to 800 on all three floors together. On the pretext of having messed up a piece of garment on 29th of October three workers were sacked. My two acquaintances were taken back on the 7th of November, while I was made to sign my notice letter. I went back to the factory several times to get my outstanding wages. On 10th of December 2009 they said, that they don’t have information about my name and employment records. I made my way into inside the personnel department, but the manager said that he will call the guards to kick me out. I insisted and the official said that I will be paid on 12th of January 2010. In this way I have not received my October wage yet, it’s end of December 2009 now.

Shining Impex Worker
(254 Udyog Vihar Phase 2)
We work from 9:30 am till 10:30 pm – they often make us stay till 2 am. We work on Sundays, as well. Overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers get 3,914 Rs and the skilled workers get 160 to 170 Rs for an 8-hours shift… There are about 250 workers and the manager in charge takes 500 Rs bribe from each worker each month. If you refuse to pay they kick you out.

*** Food Price Inflation, farmers supply-chain management and Urban Rearmament –

Since late summer 2009 the prices for food and transport have increased significantly. The newspapers say that the overall annual inflation for potatoes and pulses in 2009 was 40 per cent, for vegetables 20 per cent. Daily experience confirm these figures. Lentils are at about 80 Rs for a Kilo, which is nearly double as expensive as a year ago. A kilo apples will cost between half and a full daily wage of an average factory worker. Onions are 15 to 20 Rs the kilo, which was about 8 Rs two years ago at the same time of year. At many tea stalls you now pay 5 Rs for a tea, while it was 3 Rs a half a year ago. This is partly because of the enormous increase in sugar prices. Not only food, but also transport got more costly. The three-wheeler union of Gurgaon announced that by 29th of December 2009 the price for the trip from old Gurgaon bus stand to Chakkarpur is 10 Rs. That is a 100 per cent price hike. Delhi buses increased their ticket prices by about 30 to 40 per cent on most journeys.

Working-class wages did not keep up with this level of inflation. The minimum wage for industrial helpers – the most common category – was increased from 3,500 to 3,900 between summer 2009 and winter 2009/2010. Many companies have not passed on the hike. The opposite is true: bigger companies in the textile export sector – like Gaurav International and Richa – have cut down the obligatory extra-payment for overtime work. The government had promised bigger DA (Dearness Allowance) payments, but this did not materialize. It is clear that the working-class is supposed to pay for some of the state’s ‘economic incentive schemes’ since October 2008, e.g. the lower interest rates for car and consumer good credits and mortgages for the masses of empty upper-class flats. The times of cheap credits is counted, given overall inflation. The food price / wage – ratio will remain explosive. Currently the Indian state tries to appease conflicts at various fronts of the price developments: in November and December 2009 ten thousands of sugar cane farmers protested in Delhi against import plans of the government, followed by mass demonstrations of small shop-keepers against the price-hikes of big traders and union led-demonstrations against inflation. All these protests remained within their respective class limitations and institutional boundaries – but for the political class the juggling job will get increasingly difficult.

Capitalist answer to food-price inflation is farmer supply-chain management, NGO-mediated new trading technologies and productivity increase. The following snap-shots of farmer’s development around Gurgaon resemble the way that the British colonial powers tried to sell their railway and telegraph system in the late 19th century. They said that the bad famines like 1876 will not happen again, because the telegraph system will communicate the areas of food-shortage and the railways will bring the necessary food quicker. The famine of 1894/6 was even worse given the speed-up of food-price inflation through telegraph communication and the quicker transport of grain to the export ports via rail-track. Today it is electronic communication and supply-chain management which will push the smaller farmers and shop-owners to the edge of the market:

“Mobile outlets with GPS to deliver veggies in Gurgaon
TNN 21 December 2009

GURGAON: Come January 14 and residents in posh colonies of Gurgaon will find an easy and smart way to buy vegetables, fruits and dairy products
as ‘fresh green on wheels’ will soon be available at their doorsteps. Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) has given green signal to a private company to launch 150 mobile retail outlets in the city.
The outlets will be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and will be run by a central control room in Jaipur.
Interestingly, the owners of these retail mobile kiosks will be women from the economically challenged urban communities. “We have joined hands with 16 NGOs which will help us pick women self-help groups. These women will be given training to operate real time software and hardware platforms attached to the mobile kiosks. They will also be provided micro home loans, insurance and education for their children,” said Aditya Bhardwaj, managing director of the company”.

“Retailers farm out training to beef up rural supply chain
New Delhi, Dec. 15

Sanjay Chauhan, 29, a farmer from Shikarpur village near Gurgaon is showing off his certificate from a farm training programme that he has just attended. Besides acquiring new skills, he hopes to have a profitable relationship as a supplier with the French retailer Carrefour, which organised the training. Retailers such as Bharti-Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Reliance are still trying to get their supply chain formula right by roping in farmers as stake-holders. Despite being the biggest names in the trade, these retailers are ploughing rural areas not just to teach innovative farming methods but also trying to find the best suppliers among the lot.
With fresh fruits and vegetables being one of the most sought-after items in a retail store, mega retail chains are going all-out to build a high-quality supply chain. Carrefour, which is sourcing field-fresh vegetables worth $170 million from India, said it has been working closely with farmers in northern India and training them in global farming practices. In the last six months alone, the number of famers trained by the company has gone up from 800 to 1,500. Reliance Retail, similarly, has trained farmers in the northern and western parts of India. A Reliance spokesperson said, “We are currently working with nearly one lakh farmer families across 4,000 villages in India””.

This social process of productive misery has to be secured – either through work-fare measures like NREGS (see article in this newsletter) or through threat of brute force. India did not see any major unrest during the last rounds of global food-riots in spring 2008 – but the situation has aggravated significantly since then. The state wants to re-arm the urban forces, in mid-January 2010 the Gurgaon local authorities announced to hire at least 300 more cops. This is pathetic in comparison to the army of private security guards. The corporate and upper class lobby demands the legal amendment to allow private security guards to carry automatic guns – automatization ueber alles: CNC-embroidery machines increase the numbers of unemployed tailors, GPS for veggie-sellers increases bankruptcy amongst small traders, machine guns will not contain the social tension on neither end of the barrel. The government estimates that there are about 15,000 to 20,000 armed Maoist Guerillas in the jungle areas of the tribal belt. There are over 100,000 proletarian security guards in Gurgaon alone – a mass force of social repression or a potential/neoliberal angry brigade against the ruling affairs? Here are some of their voices.

Choukas Security Worker
Next to NIMS Hospital in Sanjay Colony Sector 23 the company office is situated. The company supplies drivers and security guards. Most of the guards have to work 12-hours shifts day and night. No weekly day off. They pay 4,500 to 5,700 Rs per month, based on a 80 hours week. Wages are paid with delay. Even if you have to work 36 hours non-stop they won’t give you extra-money to buy food.

RR Group Security
(Company Office: Delhi)
We work at 15-16 Westend Plaza in Kapashera, Gurgaon. We work on 12-hours shifts day and night. No single day off, 4,500 Rs monthly wage. They cut 500 Rs for ESI and PF, but they don’t issue an ESI card and when you leave the job you won’t get the PF money.

SDM Cisco Security Worker
(Anmol Tower, Security Company Office in Sukhrali, Gurgaon)
We are paid 3,600 Rs monthly wage. There is no single day off during a month, we work two 12-hours shifts. The overtime payment is at single rate. I have no idea what kind of wheeling and dealing the company undertakes, but for ESI and PF only 156 Rs per month is cut from the wages.

SLV Security Worker
(Company Office: Ghora Road, Gurgaon)
They make us work 12-hours shifts. They pay between 4,500 Rs and 6,000 Rs per month. If you leave the job, the outstanding wages for the last 15 working days are not paid.

*** Two Random Encounters -

Faridabad, Autopin Jhuggi, a slum alley. A worker arrives at the workers’ library by bike. He brought the last issue of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar and comments on some of the reports and articles. He is in his late 30s – a mechanic employed by a company manufacturing, amongst others, electronic timers for the war industry and national army. He is very outspoken – his main question is how to overcome the system without having to become martyrs in the process of struggle. And how to give other workers hope without creating illusions. Should we display the full amount of misery of our conditions and all the short-comings of our struggles? Where would hope come from? He himself is currently in a difficult situation of struggle. Since 1995 the number of workers in the VXL factory on nearby Mathura Road has come down from 400 to 93 and the company has started a final attack on the remaining work-force. By 4th of February 2010 they managed to get 46 more workers out by using various strategies of ‘relocation’ etc.. Till October 2009 the CNC-machines ran on two 12-hours shifts non-stop and the operators were burdened with working two or three machines at the same time. In November 2009 the sacked 150 to 200 casual workers and reduced working-times to two 8-hours shifts. Then the CNC operators were given the choice either to relocate to Kolkata or to resign. There is no factory in Kolkata and the answer of the management to the question “What will happen to us then in Kolkata” was to kick out the asking workers on 18th of December 2009. In this situation the union decided to engage in a tool-down strike which resulted in a lock-out. Currently – in February 2010 – workers sit outside the factory. The last step in the episode of getting rid off these workers? The worker who told this story was the general machine operator in this company. He did his apprenticeship there, worked there for over a decade…

…local train back from Faridabad, the train has to stop every hundred metres and give way to express and freight trains. Young students get bored and play jump off and on games. A young man watches them with a rather spiteful look. His name is Gaurav, he is son of a farmer and lives near Balabgarh in the south of Faridabad. He is on his way to an entry test for the police force – he likes boxing and won the regional competition in the weight class 67 to 72 Kg. He says that these students are childish and that they have never worked and won’t have to for the next years. He went to college, as well, but he also works on the fields of his family. The family got wealthy when selling some parts of their land to the Industrial Development Authority – but they kept about 30 acres which they work on as a joint-family. During harvest times they employ up to 30 people on their land. His father is a police officer in Gurgaon. There is a lot of crime in Gurgaon, partly because of the new rich farmer’s sons who have money, but no future perspective. Gaurav says that this is why he wants to keep being a farmer. The soil keeps you grounded and gives security because it won’t vanish like money. So why does he want the police job? He says that job and farming are two different things. The field alone is unaccountable – last years there was no rain till October and the harvest was not that great. You never know what you will get out and how prices develop. He says that his father is still a simple man, despite the money from the land sales and the job in Gurgaon – he tries to keep simple traditions, and that is good…

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

*** After Rico strike now trouble at Denso car parts manufacturer / Report after a Visit in Manesar -

Hopefully not a mere repetition of the Rico struggle – see GurgaonWorkersNews no.21 and no.22 – which basically ended in one worker dead and many suspended. While Denso workers are locked-out in Manesar, Sendan Vikas workers are on strike / lock-out in Faridabad, in 60 km distance from Manesar. Both Sendan Vikas and Denso supply Maruti Suzuki with parts. Real connections between workers and not between officials have to be made.

A visit at Denso plant in Manesar, 26th of February 2010

The factory is located close to the Honda HMSI plant in Industrial Model Town Manesar. About 80 workers – men and women – sit in 100 metres distance of the factory gate. Denso produces fuel pumps and MPFI-systems for Suzuki and Toyota, employing about 550 workers including staff. About 400 workers are employed in the production department, about 150 of them women workers. Before the lock-out about 150 workers hired through contractors were employed, mainly in maintenance and canteen.

The company hires-and-fires. People have to work one year as trainees, earning around 4,500 Rs. After the training there is another year of probation. Only 50 per cent are then taken on as permanent workers. Workers hired through contractors earn around 4,000 Rs, even after several years of seniority. The permanent workers wage ranges between 8,000 Rs to 18,000 Rs after ten years seniority. Because of the hire-and-fire policy the permanent workers decided to register a union with the help of AITUC. The company tried in various ways to undermine this attempt.

On 17th of February 2010 the A-shift arrived in the company bus at the factory. The company announced the suspension of 36 union members and asked all workers to sign a ‘paper of good conduct’, basically asking individual workers to promise discipline, not to raise demands or to engage in union activity. Permanent workers refused to sign this and the company refused to let them inside the factory. The workers hired through contractors went inside and the company hired 300 more workers with the help of agencies.

These workers hired through contractors are kept inside the factory 24 hours, no one can leave the factory. Permanent workers were told that a contractor kept 200 original documents of workers and refuses to hand them back to the workers when they intend to leave. The company also offers significant wage increases to people who show inclination to leave. The permanent workers say that there is TV inside and drinks. The factory used to run on two 8-hours shifts, now it runs on two 12-hours shifts. Nevertheless, the production is down by around 40 per cent. The workers don’t know whether production in the nearby Maruti Suzuki plant is affected by the reduction in output.

Most of the work inside the factory is skilled and / or hazardous work, e.g. in the press-shop. The company seems to hire any workers, skilled or not. There is also a boiler running in the factory which needs regular maintenance and checks – but the responsible workers are locked-out. The workers do not expect much help from the official labour department. The police puts pressure on the workers and backs local thugs who intimidate the people outside the gate.

These workers at companies like Rico, Mushashi, Sunbeam and other bigger car parts manufacturers are young workers and fairly skilled workers. They find themselves in a position better than many other industrial workers in the area, in terms of working-hours and wages. But they are far away from the wages of, e.g. older Maruti Suzuki workers and they face more job insecurity. They know that they are in a central position of India’s boom – they are adviced by major political agencies like AITUC to chose the path of union recognition and then have to face lock-out situations. It is tragic that two bigger suppliers of Maruti Suzuki are in conflict with their workers at the same time, but that for various reasons a joint-proletarian-venture is difficult to achieve. The story of the Sendan Vikar workers in the next issue of GurgaonWorkersNews.

A friend send following valuable comment concerning the ‘good conduct undertakings’ that workers are supposed to sign:

“I am a little unclear about them. Friends from Faridabad Majdoor Samachar say to sign them and go inside, because one signs on all sorts of rules and conditions when one is hired anyway. Then why do managements use them? Just to scare workers? At MA, the union contested it, saying it was illegal (as part of an ‘illegal lockout’). But are they illegal? If so, then should further vitiate their value to mgmts. Can a worker be legally terminated for not following through on the ‘good conduct’ undertaking? I doubt it. But it’s worth a discussion in GWN if not an FMS lead piece, since they seem to be a very common feature in factory turbulences”.

The following note was published in local newspaper:

“Industrial workers hold protest against atrocities”
Tribune News Service
Gurgaon, February 24
Hundreds of factory workers owing allegiance to different trade unions and employee organisations took out a protest march and staged a demonstration in front of the Kamla Nehru Park. They were protesting against the highhandedness of the managements of Manesar-based Denso and AG Industries, which they alleged, had been stopping them from forming worker unions. Sensing the volatility of the situation, the district administration imposed Section 144 and the workers were allowed to hold their protest at the Leisure Valley Park, Sector 29 or the HUDA Park, Sector 5. However, defying the orders, the workers assembled near the Kamla Nehru Park and started raising slogans against the managements of certain factories and the state government. A large number of police personnel deployed there prevented them from entering the park, following which they staged protest demonstration there. The protesters alleged that the managements of these factories had got the protesting workers attacked by hired goons, who were supported by the police. “On top of it, instead of taking action against the attackers backed by the managements, the police lodged FIR against the innocent labourers”, they rued. The workers later took out a protest march to the office of the divisional commissioner and submitted a memorandum of their demands.”

DENSO HARYANA PVT. LTD. Plot No.3, Sector-3, IMT-Manesar, Gurgaon-122050(Haryana), India. Tel: +91-124-2290611, Fax: +91-124-2290602 …

http://www.denso.com.sg/tpl/2corporate_network.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manesar

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

*** NREGS: Encircle the countryside? -

Although the NREGS has no direct impact in urban Gurgaon it will re-define the employment situation, the labour market, the state regulation of proletarian reproduction in the countryside and thereby reverberate in the urban: will more people enter the urban job market, will sacked workers be able to go back to the village and find an income?. One of the main tasks of communists today is to understand the possible explosiveness of rural-urban-rural migration in times of mass redundancies and hiring and the impact of urban experience and desires on struggles around rural labour and work-schemes – the mutual influence of rural and urban proletarian discontent.

We have given various shorter introductions to the NREGS (http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-912/#fn5 and http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-918/). In the following we have a brief look at the social control dimension of the NREGS and the potential for struggles of the rural proletariat to go beyond village boundaries. First of all some official figures about the current stage of NRGES. Basically the central government says that it will guarantee 100 days of paid work for one family member of an officially poor rural household, for the first phase of 2009 the central government claimed to provide 25,000 crore RS. As it looks like the 100 days work and therefore wages were generally NOT given. Official figures say that in 2008-09, only 14.5 per cent households could complete 100 days employment under NREGA while the percentage remained at 4.5 in 2009-10 till September 2009. In December 2009 the Chief Minister of Punjab, Singh Badal, announced that NREGS “failed” in Punjab. Shiv Charan Singh Brar, a noted social worker engaged in the implementation of the scheme, said, “There is a lot of discrimination in the distribution of job cards. These cards are being given to rural masses who have voted for the SAD-BJP combine. Job cards to rural people aligned with the Congress are being denied”. Looking at some of the struggles which emerged from NREGS – see below – we can see that there is a degree of ‘systemic corruption’. Thanks to this ‘corruption’ anger and despair of NREGA rural workers is channelled into institutionalized paths of local or regional administrative levels often limited to the “demand for proper implementation”.

A similar picture arises when it comes to the wage levels. In September 2009 the central government put a cap on the general wage paid, which is 100 RS a day. The NREGS is supposed to be on the level of the minimum wage for rural labourers in the respective states. If the minimum wage of the state is higher, the state government, not the central government is supposed to pay for the difference. Official figures claimed that the average wage till September 2009 was not 100 Rs, but around 84 Rs a day.
The difference between central government and state government wages creates some kind of tension between these two levels of the political class. On 18th of February 2010 the Haryana government announced to the central government in an official letter that it needs financial aid to cover the difference in NREGS wages: 100 Rs would be paid by the centre; to pay the difference to the local minimum wage – which in Haryana is around 150 RS per worker and day – would cost Haryana state “large sums of money”.

The other line of intra-ruling-class tension ‘created’ by the NREGS runs between different sectors, e.g. Punjabi farmers and local industry say that NREGS hinders necessary low-wage migration. A closer look reveals that it is less the NREGS but the shorter harvest times due to mechanisation in Punjab – and therefore less pay for the migrant workers – which makes more labourers from Bihar and other distant states reluctant to make the long journey. In Haryana the media claims in February 2010 that 1,000 companies involved in wood-based manufacturing have come under scanner for the alleged trafficking of Bangladeshi labourers. The workers are brought from bangladesh in order “to compensate the shortage of labourers triggered by the partial success of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Bihar and UP”.

Another NREGS front-line runs between state and state-want-to-be. NREGS is seen as the bollwerk and magic cure to Maoists extremism, the soft-skill of counter-insurgency. In November 2009 the home secretary announced: “Aiming to countering extremism at grass-root level, the Centre has asked states to ensure that 100 days of employment is provided to all eligible rural households under NREGA in districts affected by the left-wing extremism. Helpline should be made operational to capture demand for job cards and employment, it added”. This is very much paper-tiger propaganda and Maoist groups like People’s War Group are probably right when they claim that local burocrats only give full pay for full amount of work once under certain pressure from below, above or from wherever. Here two video-examples of NREGA-state-propaganda.

http://videosfromindia.smashits.com/view/11127/nrega-stops-rural-masses-from-migrating-to-urban-areas

http://video.aol.co.uk/video-detail/nrega-uplifts-lives-of-many-in-naxal-hit-binika-village/2836393109

* NREGS and the making of rural citizenship

After the implosion of the rigid village hierarchy under market and class movement pressure, one of the main tasks of the central state was to regulate proletarianisation and the mobility of rural labour. With the acceleration of the crisis of peasantry a merely formal integration of the rural poor as citizens and voters became far less than sufficient. The local state, the panchayat and other institutions had to become social managers of welfare and warfare. The NREGS is one main lever of social control. For NREGS you need a job card, for a job card you need a proof of identity – which becomes ever more sophisticated. The government of Assam announced in December 2009: “To make the process of money transaction more easy and hassle-free for the job card holders, the government will soon launch biometric smart cards”. Another entry-point into controlled citizenship is the requirement for a bank account: The switch from cash to bank payments of wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has been acclaimed by the government of India as the “worldÕs largest ever financial inclusion scheme”. This switch again is sold as a way to erode corruption and to teach the rural poor how to save money that they don’t have. A survey published in Economic Political Weekly found out that workers’ bank accounts are very much in reach of local middlemen and elites and that particularly for women the bank account often means further disempowerment and individualisation.

* NREGS and the possible generalisation of struggles

It is difficult to find a general analysis of struggles which irrupted around NREGS so far. The question will be whether the fact that there is a ‘common employer’ of a vast mass of rural poor in form of the state will lead to a generalisation of struggles in a positive sense – or lead to a political integration and mediation of otherwise, though isolated and sporadic, nevertheless explosive struggles against individual land-owners or other employers and local ruling class. Firstly, the following examples are rather random. Secondly they seem to confirm the concern that the ‘conflictive interplay’ of NGO/civil society and local elite becomes the main stage of struggle. A friend told us about the change of character of social audits in Jharkand. Initially there was no official structure of these ‘social audits’, sometimes 2,000 people would take part. Since introduction of NREGA these social audits became much more formalised and exclusive. A proper analysis has to be undertaken. The following examples mention more the success of the ‘supporting institutions’ than the activities of the workers themselves:

Karnataka, October 2009
Activists of the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS) appear to have made significant progress in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in the Munoor Gram Panchayat, Karnataka. They have managed to induct 250 persons into the scheme in Munoor that had only 25 job card holders before the KPRS entered the scene. Around 15 days ago, the first NREGA project – the building of a 1.5 kilometre irrigation canal – started in the village employing nearly 50 workers. But what these grassroots activists have gained so far may come to naught because of their lack of information about the basic provisions of the NREGA. Speaking to The Hindu the workers on site threatened to stop coming to work in the future if the wages are not raised. The workers, mostly women, have come to believe that they are going to be paid only Rs. 82 per day. They demand at least Rs. 125 per day, the wage that they would have earned as agricultural labourers, in addition to lunch and two cups of tea. The KPRS activists supported the demand for raising the “minimum wages of Rs. 82.”
Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer P. Shivashankar tries to confuse the workers: “The programme rests on three basic principles, namely, ‘work on demand’, “pay in proportion to the work’ and consequently, ‘no work, no pay’, says . In other words, Rs. 82 is not the daily minimum wages guaranteed under the NREGA as understood by the workers and activists. It is in fact the payment for one unit of work. “When a worker displaces (digs or transports) 1.2 cubic metres of soft soil, it is considered to be one unit of work for which the payment is Rs. 82,” Mr. Shivashankar explained. In the case of hard soil, the workers are paid Rs. 99 for every unit of work. “If they work more they will be paid more, if they work less they will be paid less. It is that simple,” Mr. Shivashankar said. District general secretary of the KPRS Yadav Shetty blamed government officials for misinforming the people in Munoor. But he said that his organisation would conduct more awareness workshops for its grassroots cadres.

Rajasthan, June 2009
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey said they chose Bhilwara for the audit exercise because they wanted to see if the Minister [of Rajasthan] could face up to an NREGA audit in his constituency; Mr. Dey argued that the MKSS social audit had visibly and strongly demonstrated the positive effects of civil society-government collaboration. The unity of purpose shown in Bhilwara by social auditors, government, media and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General was replicable in other States. Besides, as many villagers pointed out, the minimum wage of Rs. 100 a day under the NREGA had increased wage levels across the private sector, benefiting both families that could not avail NREGA work and families that had completed the NREGA quota of 100 work days per family. As MKSS activist Shanker Singh remarked: “NREGA has greatly increased the bargaining power of poor people. They are no longer willing to work cheap.”

Gujarat, January 2009
Agriculture workers rally for unpaid wages from NREGA work. In the last few months the NREGA Workers Union received hundreds of complaints related to non-payment of wages, corruption and work not started despite demands under the NREGA in Fatehpura Taluka of Dahod District, Gujarat. After the public rally the job card holders marched from main market to Taluka Panchayat office walking 1.5 k.m while shouting slogans like “Long live agriculture union! We want work! We want bread! We want 100 rupees minimum!”

Jharkhand, June 2009
In what is seen as a victory for workers under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act who had faced hardships because of delayed payment of compensation, as many as 174 of them from 10 villages of Khunti and Murhu blocks have received Rs. 2,000 each under the Payment of Wages Act, the total adding up to Rs. 3.48 lakh. This came at the end of a month-long struggle. A team of student volunteers from Delhi University and elsewhere have been running a “sahayata kendra” (help centre) for NREGA workers here since May 1. The first problem that came to their attention was that of delayed payments in the district. In most of the villages of Khunti and Murhu blocks that were surveyed, wages had not been paid for weeks, even months. In some cases, the delay added up to years. In the absence of timely payments, rural workers had developed an aversion to the NREGA.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** 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 – based on Summer 2006 prices:

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.9/23”


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