Tata solving problem of over-production…

GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 33 (December 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 proletarianised 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 up-rooted by the rural 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, new industrial zones turn soil into over-capacities. 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 December 2010 issue you can find:

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

*** Local Automobile Workers: Electronic Flow Regime combining Welding Robots and Slum Production -
The 1st and 2nd tier suppliers are squeezed from two sides of capitalist contradiction, from both sides of the supply chain: from the down-stream side of capital-intensive manufacturing and from the up-stream side of workshop and slum production. The ‘information-flow regime’ in Maruti Suzuki’s central assembly plant expresses capital’s hope that a perfectly synchronized supply-chain will reconcile ‘technical productivity’ and ‘profitability’, by tuning the rhythms of welding-robots to those of the dexterous hands of child labour. We document glimpses at different sections of the supply-chain: an article on ‘electronic flow-management’ at Suzuki Maruti in Gurgaon; articles on the situation of 1st tier suppliers and a worker’s report about conditions at ‘Wing Automobile'; and finally reports from workers employed in the workshop and slum production of the automobile industry in Faridabad.

*** Local Call Center Workers: Re-Location, Domestication and Workers’ Anger -
Short article on a rather dubious ‘technological fix’ for the Gurgaon call centre industry and an angry worker’s report from Sparsh BPO about working conditions, a strike and mass lay offs.

*** Migrant Workers’ Living Sphere in NOIDA / An Academic Research -
An excerpt from “Global Capitalism, Workers’ Spaces and Processes of Selective Inclusion/Exclusion: Findings from a Newly Industrialising Area in India” by
Anita Trivedi

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

*** Student Protests against Fee Hike in Haryana -
Part of the international student protests? On 5th of October, students enrolled in Adarsh College of Education held a militant protest outside the college. They were protesting against the college authorities for forcing students to pay 40,600 Rs for the course offered. Read article by KYS (Revolutionary Youth Organisation).

*** Death of a Manager and Murder Case against 377
Automobile Workers at Allied Nippon -

In September 2008, an industrial dispute at Graziano car parts manufacturer in NOIDA ended in a manager’s death and subsequent victimisation of workers. Two years later, a different location in the wider Delhi industrial belt, a different automobile parts manufacturer, the same victimisation of workers after a violent dispute. Again the media worries about the ‘investment climate’.

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

*** Big Industry and Local Land-Owners: Alliance in Gurgaon -
The power base of Haryana’s political class is the combination of big industry and local landowning class. Real estate rent and industrial profits transform into tax money – of which the local peasantry receives their share in form of compensation payment. In November 2010, while Panasonic reveals their plan to open a new washing machine factory in Gurgaon, the Haryana government announced the ‘Revised Land Acquisition Policy 2010′, which basically means an increase in the state-fixed minimum compensation.

*** The Social Tsunami Impact / Snap-Shots against Capital-Class-Crisis -
This is an attempt to introduce a regular update on general tendencies of crisis development in India. The micro-credit system defaults, remittance flow is threatened by change in global migration regime, inflation is stifling industrial investment, state debts are increasing and rural wages officially kept below minimum wage level, pushing people further into debts: a capitalist vicious cycle. Debating the dimension of the micro-credit crisis in India we have to go beyond the old formula of ‘parasitic moneylenders in new disguise’. The growth of micro-credits is essentially part of the wider global development: credit money has to fill the gap between global over-capacities and subsequent under-consumption. The ‘micro-credit’ – as much as ‘subsidies’ or ‘farmers’ debt waivers’ – has therefore to be seen as the ‘grease’ in a troubled process of proletarianisation. The Nobel Prize idyll of ‘small entrepreneur’-ship has capsized in the rough sea of global crisis.

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** Past Tense / Present Unrest – Local Working Class History -
We put online various historical documents on working class experience in Faridabad in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite having been one of the largest industrial areas in India at the time and a hotspot of post-Emergency proletarian turmoil, the experience of workers in Faridabad rarely entered the realm of official labour history. For the current generation of workers and communists a critical engagement with the voices from the past is essential part of the search for new trajectories and new forms of organisation. In the near future we intend to bring more documents and voices back into our present discussions and extend the archive on this site. Get involved!

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/workers-history/

*** 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

*** Local Automobile Workers: Electronic Flow-Management: Combining High-Tech Assembly Plants and Slum Production -

The Indian car industry is in a ‘sales boom': all time record figures during the last months. But does the ‘sales growth’ translate into a ‘profit growth’?! The supplying industry complains about ‘squeezed margins': the pressure on prices is so high that it hardly allows sufficient upgrading of capacities and future productive investments. They have difficulty to keep up with the demand in productive output. With dwindling profits per car the central assembly plants suck the supply chain dry: just-in-time, low inventory, low prices, full quality.

The 1st and 2nd tier suppliers are squeezed from two sides of capitalist contradiction, from both sides of the supply chain: from the down-stream side of capital-intensive manufacturing and from the up-stream side of workshop and slum production. The low wage regime of workshop and slum production hardly makes it profitable to invest in machinery. The workshop and slum production itself is part of a ‘human supply chain’ of cheap labour, reaching into the rural parts of society. The current conflicts about minimum wages for rural employment schemes will re-shape this supply – see ‘the Social Tsunami Impact’ in this newsletter.

Below we document some glimpses at different sections of the supply-chain: an article on ‘electronic flow-management’ at Suzuki Maruti in Gurgaon; articles on the situation of 1st tier suppliers and a worker’s report about conditions at ‘Wing Automobile'; and finally reports from workers employed in the workshop and slum production of the automobile industry in Faridabad.

* The Electronic Flow

The ‘electronic flow’-management in central assembly plant symbolises the attempt of capital to get to grips with the flow of value. Their obsessive hope is that the ‘information’ passed on between assembly department and the scattered landscape of supplying industry can become the container of ‘value’ – ‘information’ being similarly immaterial and evasive. The ‘information-flow regime’ is their hope that a perfectly synchronized supply-chain will reconcile ‘technical productivity’ and ‘profitability’, by tuning the rhythms of welding-robots to those of the dexterous hands of child / slum labour.

“At Maruti Suzuki, electronic flow is a religion”
(Economic Times, 19th of November 2010)
At India’s largest carmaker, E. Nagare or ‘electronic flow’ is a religion. Simply put, this electronic flow is actually the sequence of production plans from the vendor [supplier] to Maruti’s shopfloor, which now sits at a two hour cycle from 30 days in the past. As S Maitra, Managing Executive Officer (Supply Chain) of Maruti Suzuki indicates, “E . Nagare has completely transformed the supply chain at Maruti over the last four years.” Across Maruti’s twin sprawling plants in Gurgaon and Manesar, multi-coloured bumpers arrive in mobile trolleys and components line up outside factory sheds directly feeding the ever-hungry , multitasked assembly lines. For the company’s 250-odd Tier I vendors and 20 global suppliers, supply is now a seamless activity. Maruti receives multiple supplies in a day within a slot of two hours based on the information given out to its vendors the previous night. That’s a far cry from the initial 30-day or subsequent 15-day cycles Maruti drove in years ago. And that’s what it takes to crank out 4,600 cars a day.

Along with processes like E. Nagare, new technologies and materials such as plastic instead of a metal fuel tank or light tinting of glass to keep the car cool, are now in the offing. Increased competition in the late 90s gave rise to global suppliers coming to India, like Delphi of GM. “Delphi came with a range of technologies, like wiring harnesses, chassis and powertrain components and AC components and they became our suppliers as well,” says Maitra. At that time, it was the ‘Materials’ division of Maruti that dealt with the supply side. Instead of price increase, which was the order of the day, Maruti called on its existing vendors to focus on cost reduction. Initially, the company could bring down the cost of production by 2-3 per cent and in 2006-07 , it even lowered that by 5%. “We had to induct many global suppliers in our vendor network, like Faurecia for seat mechanism, Bosch and some Japanese suppliers like Dentsu, Sumitomo Metals and Continental, all with a global footprint ,” elaborates Maitra.

* The 1st tier squeeze

The profit squeeze of the wider industry appears as ‘unfair price policy’ to the supplying companies.

“Sales of passenger vehicles have set a scorching pace-25-27 per cent in the first half of the financial year-and auto component makers are struggling hard to catch up. Over the next few years, the vendors are expected to pump in at least Rs 2,000 crore to meet the demand. One factor that has enabled companies to make such high investments is the willingness on the part of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to re-negotiate contract prices. In the past ten months, the average contract prices have gone up by 5-10 per cent. As Ramesh Suri, chairman of the country’s largest car air-conditioning company Subros, which supplies air-conditioners to Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Hyundai Motor, says, “We are going to invest up to Rs 200 crore for capacity enhancement,” adding that the only option left for his company is to constantly ramp up production to meet demand. Suri explains that while passenger vehicle makers constantly put pressure on component makers to cut costs, there is a limit to how much they can manage. He says while the company’s topline has been growing steadily, there is constant pressure on the bottomlines. “The average net profit per sale has certainly declined,” he claims, adding, “Auto firms have realised that they can’t continue to do business till the time they increase contract prices.”Managing director of Gurgaon-based auto component maker Omax Autos Jatender Mehta adds that his contracts with leading carmakers have increased 5 per cent in the past one year. “If we have to invest in our facilities, we cannot do it till we get more for our components,” he says. Mehta explains that high volatility in prices of key components like steel, copper, zinc and aluminum, which have increased 10-12 per cent since last year, has burnt a big hole in the budgets.”

* The 1st tier workers’ anger

Wings Automobile Worker
(I-35, DLF Industrial Area Phase 1)
There are 25 permanent workers and 325 workers hired through contractor. They produce ignition coils for two-wheelers of Hero Honda, Bajaj, Yamaha, Honda, Hero Puch and Kinetic. They also produce parts for Maruti Suzuki. Officially workers are employed 8.5 hours per day, but actually they work 200 hours overtime per month, paid at single rate. If workers are made to work 20 hours non-stop, they get 20 Rs extra for food. There is a constant danger of cutting your hands – the production targets at the 12 power presses and the 10 moulding machines is too high. Even when the machines are faulty you have to run them. If one of your pieces is rejected (due to flaws) they cut one hour of your wages, they swear at you, they also push-beat you. Fingers are cut on a regular level. They don’t fill in the accident report. After an accident you are sent for private treatment and then you are dismissed. In an auxiliary of the company (Eden) 5 permanents and 70 workers hired through contractors produce horns for two-wheelers, cars and tractors. Recently, a newly hired worker was made working 26 hours non-stop on a power press, he had an accident and lost two fingers. The toilets are very dirty. There is no drinking water. Wages are paid delayed.

http://www.wingsauto.com/

(from: Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar no. 267)

* The Automobile Slum-Production Workers

In the ‘industrial villages’ and slums of Faridabad more than 100,000 workers are employed in small workshops, which produce for the bigger industry on contract bases. Nearly all of them are ‘invisible’, they don’t show on any official documents. The workshop economy is an outcome of the 1980s restructuring process – see ‘Workers History’ on the GurgaonWorkersNews site. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed mass lay-offs of permanent workers. Some of them remained in touch with their former department managers and turned into their suppliers: they opened a workshop. The machinery of the workshop stems from a similar cycle of re-structuring: lathes, power presses and other machines replaced by micro-electronic revolution, often imported from Germany and Japan. New workers stream in from the countryside and find a job in the slum economy – in many cases they come from the workshop-owner’s villages. Below some voices from the low-wage labour-intensive regime.

Boxer India Worker
The workshop is situated near Industrial Area, 17 workers are employed. They work on six power presses, three lathes, one grinder and one reamer. They manufacture cycle clamps and other parts for JCB, Maruti Suzuki and RK Industries. The helpers are paid 2,500 to 3,000 Rs and the operators get 4,000 to 4500 Rs per month. The shift-times are from 8:30 am till 8 pm, but people are made to stay till midnight, too. Overtime is paid at single rate. Due to working too long hours, due to lack of maintenance and due to the fact that helpers are made to work on power-presses there are a lot of accidents: fingers get cut. Injured people are supposed to organise bandages through private channels. After being given 100 or 150 Rs by the boss they have to hear: if it does not get better through the bandages, why don’t you urinate on the wound. Even if you are still injured and bandaged you have to come to the workshop and do whatever work.

Aman Enterprises Worker
The workshop is in Saray Mohalla in Mujesar. There are two surface grinders, cylindrical grinders, internal grinders, a lathe machine, MNCR, a tool grinder, a drill, two generators – four workers, the workshop owner and his nephew use them in order to make dies for factories. The wages are between 2,500 Rs and 5,000 Rs. There is no toilet. Due to the surface grinder and the generators there is a lot of dust and exhaust in the air.

Lakshman Singh Mittal Industries Worker
The workshop is in Dabua, near the Sarvoday School. In the workshop 25 workers work on 12 power presses, on a surface grinder and a big drill, manufacturing parts for Whirlpool. Official shift times are from 8:30 am till 9 pm. The workshop owner knows all tasks, he does the setting – his son supervises the outsourced work. He is a senior die fitter, he does not work himself, he gets more than 5,000 Rs. The helpers and operators get 3,000 Rs to 3,500 Rs.

BS Enterprises Worker
The workshop is in Saray Mohalla in Mujesar. Three workers use a lathe, a surface grinder, a drill and a generator in order to do job work for bigger factories. Wages are about 3,500 Rs.
(from: Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar no. 267)

*** Local Call Center Workers: Re-Location, Domestication and an Angry Workers’ Report -

Short article on a rather dubious ‘technological fix’ for the Gurgaon call centre industry and an angry worker’s report from Sparsh BPO about working conditions, a strike and mass lay offs.

* The Technological Fix

Finally an end to expensive office blocks and mingling of sexes: modern technology is supposed to enable ‘housewives’ to do the call centre job from their domestic sphere. “With just one laptop or desktop computer with internet and a phone connections, people could operate from their rooms, attend to inbound calls that otherwise land at the call centre. With this, housewives, who would never otherwise dream of joining a BPO, would be able to take jobs and do it from their homes,” said Mike Manson, director of the ‘innovative company’. “Virtualisation of voice technology would help setting up of one-seater or 3-5 seater micro BPOs in tier 3 and 4 cities from where the BPO companies are drawing talent pool,” said Sriram Srinivas, vice-president. “This would not only benefit the employee to save on overheads such as rentals and high cost of living in metros like Gurgaon but also helps the company reduce cost on things such as employee transportation expenses.” Experiences in the US and Western Europe taught us that even in call centres capitalist production is still mainly a ‘socially enforced’ type of productivity: despite rent costs the mass office is still more productive due to mass cooperation, flow of creativity, discipline and surveillance.

* The Angry Worker

Sparsh BPO Service Worker
(409 Udyog Vihar Phase 3)
“We currently operate through 20 state-of-the art facilities across nine locations in India. Our dedicated workforce of over 16,000 motivated professionals provide qualitative solutions in the areas of transaction processing and call centre services, aiming to achieve excellence in every transaction.”
(from company web-site: http://www.sparshindia.com/)
The call centre is in a 12-floor building, several thousand workers are on the phone 24 hours on three shifts, phoning for BSNL, Airtel, Airsale, Reliance Com, Orient Bank of Commerce. For 26 working days per month they get 4,800 Rs. After 8-hours shift they are often made to stay two hours longer, which is not paid. The company does not pay for transport and those workers who use the ‘employee cabs’ have 1,000 Rs per month deducted from their wages. In addition 210 Rs is cut for PF and 80 Rs for ESI – but no ESI card is given. The food break is only 15 minutes – there are two 5 minutes breaks for tea. There is never enough time, but no matter what, you are supposed to work. You cannot make the customer wait, that’s what they say. Against this the workers stopped work at the end of March 2009, they stopped work for three days. They went inside the office, but they did not log in. The management reacted by smashing 4-5 computers and trying to blame the workers for it, saying that they will file a police case and send them to jail. Bit by bit they started to kick people out – in the end it must have been about 2,000 workers. Actually a lot of workers handed in their notice, but the company refused to take it – instead they said that the workers just left the job. After having worked there for more than two years I went to the office in order to make them sign my PF form. They just threw it away and said that I left the job without giving notice and that I won’t get the PF. The company keeps 200 workers for housekeeping. They work 12-hours shifts, 30 days per month and get only 4,887 Rs – no ESI and no PF. The company has another office at 195 Udyog Vihar Phase 1. There workers phone for Vodaphone, Shub Yatra, Bhartiy Jivan Bima Nigam and others.
(from: Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar no. 267)

*** Migrant Workers’ Living Sphere in NOIDA / An Academic Research -

GLOBAL CAPITALISM, WORKERS’ SPACES AND PROCESSES OF SELECTIVE INCLUSION/EXCLUSION
Findings from a Newly Industrialising Area in India
Anita Trivedi
August 2007

[We document an excerpt dealing with the living arrangements of migrant workers in NOIDA, a neighbouring industrial area to Gurgaon and Faridabad]

Material differences at the workplace and variation in work practices and responses were reflected in the living spaces of workers. Key findings reinforced the theme of variation observed in labour management practices and the responses of workers at the workplace. At the same time, while the strategy of control of workers and undermining the commonalities through differential employment contracts and remunerations was reflected in the hierarchy of the living spaces, it was also crosscut by a sense of unity among workers arising out of shared spaces, experiences and a sense of unfairness. The living spaces formed a significant dimension of social relations of production.

In the five residential areas a form of hierarchy originating from and akin to the one at the workplace could be observed, with the government-planned (Industrial Authority) sectors/colonies at the top and unauthorised slums at the bottom as shown in Table 2. In between, in descending order were the company colonies, unauthorised colonies, ‘urban’ villages and authorised slums. The areas towards the upper end of the hierarchy had access to better services and to the decision-making levels of the state; such access progressively declined as one moved down the ladder.

Type of residential area
Name & Location
Features

Planned colony
Gamma, Greater Noida
High level of public infrastructure, services and law and order

Authorised company colony
Y Nagar, Noida;
A Colony, Greater Noida
Slightly reduced scale and reach of public infrastructure and services

Unauthorised regularised colony
Harola, Noida
Come up through unauthorised sale or grab of land but regularised by government by providing some services

Authorised urban villages
Surajpur, Greater Noida
Villages surrounded by industrial and municipal urban settlements

Unauthorised slums
Khoda, Noida
Very little infrastructure / services

The processes of selective inclusion and exclusion extended here too. The ‘included’ permanent workers in the MNCs largely resided in well-developed and serviced areas; others ‘partly incorporated’, e.g. skilled migrant workers, apprentices, lived in company colonies, peri-urban areas and villages; and a majority of temporary and migrant workers, adversely incorporated or excluded, dwelt in the slums. Such scaling of the spaces resulted in further divisions among workers.

I admit we are better than others, especially the unauthorised ones, but not very good either. The light (electricity) doesn’t always come. The colonies of the Authority are much better. Why the difference?
(Union Functionary, J3, resident of a company colony)

Workplace injustices were overshadowed by demands for services and other issues in some areas. This continued the process of fragmenting the workers evident at the workplace and of weakening the formation of a collectivity.
However, on closer examination certain variations in the above scheme of things were observable. Not all ‘included’ workers resided in areas where they were expected to, i.e. well-developed and well-serviced residential areas. Some locals, who owned land and were economically and politically powerful continued to reside in or maintained strong links with villages, ‘urban’ villages and sometimes slums. This provided them with an opportunity to continue with an additional source of income (usually from agriculture or related activities); and allowed them to retain their dominant status (of class and/or caste) with its resultant social networks and benefits.

The ‘most included’ permanent workers, both in terms of employment status and also of the quality of the areas of residence and access to services, had the greatest fear of being ‘excluded’ from both. They suffered from a sense of insecurity similar to workers in other categories. At the other end, the ‘most excluded’ migrants who resided in slums exhibited no such fear and were resigned to workplace inequality and apathetic towards living conditions:

What is the point (of services)? We only come here to sleep. I am here to earn…and they will never give us a permanent job.

(Focus group of migrant workers, I1 and I2)

In between, there were many variations based on levels of inclusion and exclusion both at the workplace and in living areas. Many who were ‘more included’ at the workplace felt ‘excluded’ in the living spaces and vice versa. The skilled migrant workers (e.g. J2) who lived in the ‘urban villages’ experienced a greater sense of inclusion with respect to work but exclusion when it came to access to people of influence/ decision-making processes because they did not ‘know anyone’.

Yes, we live together but half of them are locals and they go home. The people (locals) understand our problems but they live here during the week and go to their villages over the weekend. They are different. We are different. We have skills and we held good jobs. They work at the firm only for the name. Pay and conditions don’t matter to them.

What can we do? Nobody listens to us…we are from different places. We don’t know anyone here and even if we ask for help, no one will stand by us, we are from outside.
(Focus group of migrant skilled apprentices, J2)

The reverse was true for many unskilled local workers (e.g. K1, J2) who lived in the surrounding villages and continued with the original agrarian pursuit (often as a fallback option during periods of unemployment). They drew confidence from local networks of community, village, and region and were vocal in their criticism of workplace practices and migrant workers for ‘putting up with them':

I tell the security men who misbehave (manhandle, shout) with me…I will see you at the gate…
Others (migrant workers) who put up with it are not men.

(Local temporary worker, K1)

Many of the relatively prosperous and influential locals, who were excluded or partly included-excluded in the workplace as temporary workers in its various categories, often indulged in land grab in the slums and extended accommodation at high rents to migrant workers. The economic strength and political clout required for this originated from their insertion into channels of influence (access to officials and politicians through links of family, caste, village etc that are often drawn upon in times of crisis or during elections). They were most vocal in their demands for services and more hopeful of their fulfilment because of their social support systems.

I tell you it is a matter of time…we will get the recognition (thereby services in the unauthorised colony). They [the government] will have to do it. We are a solid vote bank for them.
(Local temporary worker, J1, Head of the residential committee)

In a way, their exclusion at the workplace was sought to be remedied by seeking greater inclusion in their other spaces. Despite the very evident divisions, the unintended outcomes of such structuring and reconfigurations were the coexistence of the workers in the living spaces, the urban-rural continuum and the overlap of spaces and issues in the physical and mental landscapes of workers. Shared spaces encouraged sharing of the experiences and injustices of the workplace. The empathy and the sympathy from the shared plight, or the fear of it, often overcame the divisions and hierarchy of both the workplace and living spaces.

The situation in those areas [Khoda and Harola] is bad. The workers there are mostly in export units and it is well known the kind of exploitation that goes on in such units. The government supports the owners of such units but ignores the terrible conditions that the workers live in… where else can they live on the pittance that they receive? As for us (in the MNCs), it is a different kind of exploitation. [Nods of approval by all]
(Union President, J1 during a mixed focus group)

A fragmented workforce from fragmented work organisation lived in hierarchical living spaces. Given their degree of fragmentation, sense of insecurity and spatial segmentation, one would expect to find a much weakened workforce with reduced avenues of organisation and representation. Yet, the politics of the workers displayed complexities that arose from their varied exclusion/inclusion at the workplace and in living spaces and the varied nature of interest articulation. The emphasis on the interests articulated differed on the basis of the place of residence (more service-oriented in the slums and completely work-related in the residential areas of the MNCs), or origin of workers (migrant or local), or skills of workers.

Variation of interests could be observed between the slums, where demands centred on better living conditions and services, and the well-serviced residential sector developed by the government, Gamma, where the permanent MNC workers were concentrated, where workplace and work related issues completely dominated. Again, service-related demands in slums were vocalized by influential local residents of the area and not the migrant workers. The urban village of Surajpur and the company colonies showed a mix of demands: the demands for services were not as strong as in the slums and were mixed with criticisms of work culture and practices.

While migrants and temporary workers in the slums displayed apathy towards their living conditions and towards the idea of political solutions to the same, and felt completely disempowered politically and economically, those in other areas, e.g. the migrant skilled workers working in the MNCs and residing in the ‘urban villages’, were more engaged. This stemmed from their sense of greater inclusion (however selective) at the workplace. However, it is significant that the engagement was not with the local politics but with the new economic policies of the state to attract MNCs and its impact on them, i.e. at the global-national level (the case of apprentices of J2 who spoke of workplace issues but disregarded the local ones).

Migrants, whether in temporary low paid employment or skilled, felt weaker on account of ‘not knowing anyone’ compared to the local workers who felt stronger because of their social support systems despite their insecure jobs. The presence of many well-placed permanent workers and entrepreneurs, mostly local, in the unauthorised slum of Khoda indicated both the operation of an ‘informal’ economy and the use of informal channels and mechanisms by the workers to gain economic strength and social status, and thereby access to the decision-making processes and institutions.

If they are going to take our land away, why wouldn’t we grab this land? We have to live and this is our place, our roots. [AT - But land grab is not good, surely?] No, it isn’t. But a man has to go up in life. Money talks, power matters.

None of the locals wanted to move and all felt that the migrants were unfortunate, thus manifesting the relationship between spatial mobility and social power.

Nobody wants to be rootless; I can’t imagine going somewhere else to live… it is sad to be a migrant.

This fractured politics with conflicting interests in the slums and the ‘urban villages’ reflected the inclusion-exclusion experienced by workers at the workplace. The local residents were ‘more included’ in the social processes of decision-making and power because of their origin (as compared to the migrants) but ‘more excluded’ than the permanent workers in the MNCs (who had access to better services). The latter, for their part, were not as concerned with the conditions of the slums (when asked about it) as with their own largely work related issues. The greater inclusion of the migrant skilled workers and exclusion of the local unskilled workers at the workplace reinforces Massey’s (1996) emphasis that space implies a co-existence of differences and multiple trajectories. Also, the preoccupation with service provisions in the slums was counterpoised by very powerful workplace and work-practices related responses in the company colonies and the residential sectors of the workers.

At the same time, the workers in the MNCs were as likely to exhibit a place-based politics in their villages.

I still have my land in the village…have bought some more too. This area is only going to grow more, not less. At the end of the day, it is family [extended family], community that matters…in times of need, marriage, troubles, and illnesses. Without your roots and links (in the village), a man is anchorless.

(Permanent worker, MNC)

Another example was found in interviews conducted with a local, permanent worker and a focus group of a mix of workers from the same organisation in one of the villages. When the interview was completed, I requested for all categories of temporary workers to be assembled. None of the temporary workers sat down and no response was forthcoming on any of the issues raised except from the permanent worker, who belonged to the dominant caste, was one of the rich men of the village, and was also instrumental in getting others employment. On being prompted, the permanent worker said ‘I am telling you, why do you need to ask them’ and the temporary workers said ‘we agree with what he says’.

Despite attempts by capital to undermine their commonalities, the possibility of a common consciousness emerging among workers, identified at the workplace, was also identifiable in the living spaces of workers. There was a keen awareness of trends and practices in other workplaces. Also, all along there was an emphasis on injustice and unfairness and a feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’ among workers. Despite the divisions and conflicting interests there was a continued sense of awareness that such differences were largely work-mediated. This came through in almost all interviews and focus groups when workers, after initial scapegoating of other groups of workers, would end by attributing all their problems to the ‘MNCs, employers, state, new policies and changes’. Use of local networks were accepted by all and resented by some but always attributed as a counter to the prevalent ‘unfairness’.

It appeared that processes of exclusion-inclusion were multiple and interrelated and operated in all domains of workers. Although at some level the exclusions at workplace and living space were mutually reinforcing, in other respects and for some groups they were mutually compensating – e.g. exclusion at work can be offset by living space inclusion, and vice versa. The locational sources of power, i.e. those rooted in a place, local support structures and networks of influence that followed from it played a role. Also, though the fragmentation of both living space and workspace was a source of division, there were countervailing sources of solidarity deriving from a shared plight (or fear of it). Workers attempted to counter work-generated and spatial inequalities by demands for services, through recourse to formal as well as informal channels of influence and institutions of the state. What emerged was a lack of concordance between power location within the village or other living space, and power location in the company. Old social structures rooted in agrarian systems persist alongside new power relations in industrialised workplace settings.

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

*** Student Protest against Fee Hike in Haryana -

Part of the international student protests? On 5th of October, students enrolled in Adarsh College of Education held a militant protest outside the college. They were protesting against the college authorities for forcing students to pay 40,600 Rs for the course offered. Read article by KYS (Revolutionary Youth Organisation).

http://radicalnotes.com/journal/2010/10/11/against-privatisation-of-education-in-haryana/

*** Death of a Manager and Murder case against 377 Automobile Workers at Allied Nippon -

In September 2008 an industrial dispute at Graziano car parts manufacturer in NOIDA ended in a manager’s death and subsequent victimisation of workers. Two years later, a different location in the wider Delhi industrial belt, a different automobile parts manufacturer, the same victimisation of workers after a violent dispute. Again the media worries about the ‘investment climate’. See link below for report by Bigul.

http://sanhati.com/articles/2965/

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

*** Big Industry and Local Land-Owners: Alliance in Gurgaon -

If we believe the wider media-coverage than the current boom sectors in Gurgaon are ‘indoor-golf’-facilities and eye-surgery or stem-cell treatment for US patients – at least most of the announcements of new investments concern decadent entertainment or medical tourism.

In November 2010 Harley Davidson announced to open an assembly plant in Gurgaon area, in order to avoid import duties. All parts will be manufactured in the US. Given the sales figures of 250 to 300 sold bikes in India per year, the factory is rather an extra-gimmick for the ‘indoor-golf’-palace anyway. A rather more serious investment: Panasonic announced to invest 2.5 billion Yen in a new washing machine factory in Gurgaon. Production is supposed to start in 2012 – annual manufacturing target 500,000 washing machines.

The power base of Haryana’s political class is the combination of big industry and local landowning class. Real estate rent and industrial profits transform into tax money – of which the local peasantry receives their share in form of compensation payment. In November 2010 the Haryana government announced to a Revised Land Acquisition Policy 2010, which basically means an increase in the state-fixed minimum land prices. For land situated within the notified limits of Gurgaon Municipal Corporation, the new MFR has been fixed at Rs 72 lakh per acre, including Rs 8 lakh as no litigation incentive. Earlier, the highest official acquisition rate in the state was Rs 22 lakh per acre. Hooda said the annuity for acquisition of land for private companies / initiatives would be Rs 42,000 per acre per annum with an annual increase at Rs 1500. The additional amount paid as annuity over 33 years worked out to Rs 21,78,000 per acre. Explaining the provision regarding giving jobs in government, the Chief Minister said that in cases where more than 75 per cent of land, subject to a minimum of two acres or above, was acquired for a public purpose other than that for HUDA/ HSIIDC/ HSAMB, one dependent from the land-owning family would be provided a job in the state government.

*** The Social Tsunami Impact / Snap-Shots against Capital-Class-Crisis -

Debating the dimension of the micro-credit crisis in India we have to go beyond the old formula of ‘parasitic moneylenders in new disguise’. The growth of micro-credits is essentially part of the wider global development: credit money has to fill the gap between global over-capacities and subsequent under-consumption.

In this sense the growth of micro-credits can not be explained by general ‘greed of loan sharks’, but by, on one hand the global ‘hot money’ leaving the low interest regimes of the ‘over-accumulated’ developed states in order to invest in the interest-yielding industrial periphery, e.g. in growing sectors like micro-credits (2009 growth rate in India: 58 per cent); this ‘hot money’ then meets the ‘credit needs’ and ‘reproduction crisis’ of a large segment of semi-proletarianised population, which cannot survive as farmers, nor as small entrepreneurs, nor as fully proletarianised wage workers. Micro-credits are rarely ‘invested’ productively, they mainly serve as household income.

The current conflict about whether the wages for the rural employment scheme NREGS should be tied to the general minimum wage level, is part of the picture. Currently in most states the wages for NREGS are below the minimum wage. The central state fears that the fiscal deficit would expand even more once NREGS would be linked to minimum wage levels. It would be easy to counteract this argument by pointing at the planned four-year budget of 45 – 50 billion USD for acquisition of military hardware, but this would ignore the necessities of a ‘capitalist state’.

Fact is that despite the ‘hot money inflow’ the state deficit is increasing, that the current boom does not generate enough ‘employment’ and that the wage level of most of the new jobs can hardly be called a ‘family living wage’. The changes in the international migration regime will change the flow of remittance – last year India was the record receiver of remittance amounting to 55 billion USD – and will aggravate the social crisis in ‘emigrant-states’ like Punjab, already ridden by mass debts. The ‘micro-credit’ – as much as ‘subsidies’ or ‘farmers’ debt waivers’ – has therefore to be seen as the ‘grease’ in a troubled process of proletarianisation The Nobel Prize idyll of ‘small entrepreneur’-ship has capsized in the rough sea of global crisis.

In the following we summarise in a rather random fashion some general news relating to the development of social crisis.

a) inflation continues to stifle ‘industrial growth’
b) central state has subsequently increased its expenses beyond plan
c) nregs wages are supposed to remain below minimum wage levels
d) micro credit system threatens to default
e) tighter control of rural poor through electronic ID system
f) remittance on record high but threatened by changes in global migration regime
g) expansion of defence budget and US reiteration that China uses Pakistan to stifle India
h) increased investment of ‘Indian’ companies in Africa
i) towards a global class: recent workers’ strikes at Foxconn, BYD and General Motors India

a) inflation continues to stifle ‘industrial growth’

Garment industry suffers from Rupee appreciation. From April to August, exports were down 6.4 percent from a year earlier in the $10 billion Indian clothing industry. Although it represents only about 1 percent of the nation’s economy, the garment industry is India’s largest employer after agriculture. “Soaring inflation, rising input cost and slow growth in capacity addition are some of the reasons that are inhibiting growth in specific sectors,” Food inflation in mid-October stood at 13.75 per cent. Industrial output growth in August slowed to a 15-month low of 5.6 per cent from 15.2 per cent in July. While flows into the stock market have more than doubled, foreign direct investment into India fell more than 24 percent in the first seven months of the year, to $12.5 billion, compared with the comparable period a year earlier.
(1st of November 2010)

b) central state has subsequently increased its expenses beyond plan

The government is looking for approval to spend about $9.8 billion more than what was passed in its February budget, towards interest and subsidy payments.
(26th of November 2010)

c) nregs wages are supposed to remain below minimum wage levels

Fiscal experts are worried the government could be staring at a financial black hole if it agrees to the demands to provide minimum wages under the employment guarantee law. The spending on scheme is already one of the biggest item of expenditure for the government, budgeted at Rs 40,100 crore for the current fiscal. [But] “As per the latest figures, only about Rs. 17,000 crores has been spent – roughly 42% of the allocated budget. Immediately notifying the prevailing state minimum wage will have no impact on the Center’s fiscal budget,” said Roy, one of the founders of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan.
(24th of November 2010)

d) micro credit system threatens to default

India’s rapidly growing private microcredit industry faces imminent collapse as almost all borrowers in one of India’s largest states have stopped repaying their loans. Sector’s leading company SKS Microfinance shares have lost 41 percent since Oct. 15. Lenders say that less than 10 percent of borrowers have made payments in the past couple of weeks. Indian banks, which put up about 80 percent of the money that the companies lent to poor consumers, are increasingly worried that after surviving the global financial crisis mostly unscathed, they could now face serious losses. Indian banks have about $4 billion tied up in the industry, banking officials say. Now some Indian officials fear that microfinance could become India’s version of the United States’ subprime mortgage debacle. Micro-finance company association demands a 200 million USD ‘state rescue package’ in case the crisis aggravates.

e) tighter control of rural poor through electronic ID system

The purpose of this exercise [current census] is to build the National Population Register (NPR). In due course, your UID (Unique Identity Number, or “Aadhaar”) will be added to it. This will make it possible to link the NPR with other Aadhaar-enabled databases, from tax returns to bank records and SIM (subscriber identity module) registers. Benefits and services that are linked to the UID will ensure demand for the number.” That UID is, in effect, going to be compulsory is clear from many other documents. For instance, the Planning Commission’s proposal for the National Food Security Act argues for “mandatory use of UID numbers which are expected to become operational by the end of 2010″ (note the optimistic time-frame). No UID, no food. Similarly, UIDAI’s concept note on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) assumes that “each citizen needs to provide his UID before claiming employment.” [...] Take for instance Captain Raghu Raman (of the Mahindra Special Services Group), who is quietly building NATGRID on behalf of the Home Ministry. His columns in the business media make for chilling reading. Captain Raman believes that growing inequality is a “powder keg waiting for a spark,” and advocates corporate takeover of internal security (including a “private territorial army”), to enable the “commercial czars” to “protect their empires.”
(24th of November 2010)

f) remittance on record high but threatened by changes in global migration regime

Indian expatriates are expected to remit about $55 billion into the country this year as the number of emigrants from the nation is likely to clock 11.4 million, a new World Bank report said.
(24th of November 2010)

Offshore IT staff face new pay thresholds
UK migration officials said that non-EU entrants using intra-company transfers would need to earn at least £40,000 to work in the UK for more than 12 months.
(1st of November 2010)

India IT firms say US rejecting business visas
US is rejecting a growing number of visa applications and visa interviews are bordering on interrogations, Indian information technology companies say.
Also recently, the US Border Security Bill hiked the fees for H1B and L1 business visas, leading to protests from Indian IT firms.
(4th of November 2010)

With 5 mn pounds to invest, make UK your permanent residence
If you’re rich and ready to invest more than £5 million in Britain, you could now get permanent residence in two years and full citizenship in five. The UK government is easing immigration rules to woo millionaires to make England their home.
(6th of November 2010)

36 Indian illegal immigrants arrested in Britain
LONDON: Thirty-six Indian nationals have been arrested in Britain for working illegally in the country, while six other Indians were found hiding in a lorry in France, trying to enter Britain illegally, officials said on Wednesday. Since July, over 400 operations have taken place across Britain which resulted in arrests of more than 800 people from various countries.
(1st of December 2010)

India imports 15,000 Chinese laborers to build, teach infrastructure projects
“India may be an IT superpower and producing thousands of doctors, lawyers and MBAs every year. But the biggest gap is in the availability of skilled electricians, carpenters, welders, mechanics and masons who can build mega infrastructure projects,” said Raghav Gupta, president at Technopak. India’s demand for steel is growing exponentially, and steel production, now at 70 million tons a year, will need to grow 12 percent every year to keep up. “China is the only country in the world that has built so many new steel plants in the past decade, almost like assembly-line products, adding about 80 million tons of steel capacity each year. So we decided to get their technology and manpower,” said R.S. Singh, director of Electrosteel Steel Ltd., the company building a factory in Chandankyari. “This factory is a classroom for Indian workers and we will create a benchmark for speed, quality and cost,” Singh said. The Indian workers are learning a new work ethic from the Chinese and are now more punctual, not stopping work to take frequent tea-breaks or gossip, managers said.
(23rd of October 2010)

g) expansion of defense budget and US reiteration that China uses Pakistan to stifle India

During US-president Obama’s visit to India this autumn some 250 businessmen were traveling with him. American exports to India have doubled between 2005 and 2009. India plans to spend 45 yo 50 billion USD on military hardware during the next four years. The Indian state hopes that intensified economic relations will translate into formal political recognition: “Will he make a major push to support India’s hopes of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council? Unlikely, say most analysts. Though the Indo-US nuclear agreement sounded the death knell of the era of defence technology apartheid practised against India, it will still be a decade or more before the ghosts of technology denial regimes are finally buried. The deeply entrenched bureaucracies in the departments of state, defence and commerce around the Washington beltway will take quite some time to finally accept India as a co-equal partner with whom dual-use technologies can be shared to mutual advantage.”

In the meantime the US diplomacy prepares the atmosphere for future arms deals.
“Relations between India and China have deteriorated in last 18 months and is unlikely to get better”, Blackwill, a former US Ambassador to India. “The Indians have a long list of Chinese transgressions, which in my judgment are accurate, having to do with Chinese policy on Kashmir and on the border dispute between the two countries and the so-called ‘ring of pearls’ of Chinese quasi-military installations in Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan and so forth,” he said. “In other words, China using Pakistan to slow India’s rise,” Blackwill said.
(4th of November 2010)

h) increased investment of ‘Indian’ companies in Africa

In the past 18 months India-based Essar group bought coal mines in Mozambique, half an oil refinery in Kenya and a call center in South Africa. Essar Energy Plc. plans to invest heavily in Nigeria’s power grid. “Africa looks remarkably similar to what India was 15 years ago,” said Firdhose Coovadia, director of Essar’s African operations. “We can’t lose this opportunity to replicate the low-cost, high-volume model we’ve perfected in India.” India-based Karuturi Global Ltd. leases 311,000 hectares of land — larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island — in Ethiopia and Kenya, and sells more than half-a-billion roses a year.

i) recent workers’ strikes at Foxconn, BYD and General Motors India

* Government seeks to crush strike of Foxconn workers in India

Defying police repression, thousands of workers have been on strike since September 21 in the industrial city of Sriperumbudur. The more than 7,000 workers at the plant are demanding an increase in wages, increased health benefits, as well as recognition for the trade union Thozilalar Sangam (FITS), which is affiliated with the Stalinist Communist Party of India (Marxist). On October 9 police arrested several hundred Foxconn workers who, in defiance of repeated police attacks, have continued the strike. A total of 319 workers, identified as leading activists, were remanded into judicial custody and transferred to Vellore central jail. The remaining few hundred workers not arrested were laid off. After being held for four days in jail, 307 workers were released on bail on October 13. On October 10, the day after the mass arrests, over 3,000 workers staged protest demonstrations on the streets of Sriperumpudur. They have been staging ‘Dharna’ (sit in protests) near the District Collectors Office. Police are preventing workers from staging any protests in and around the Foxconn plant. Foxconn workers are paid 4,800 rupees ($US106) per month. The workers are demanding a basic pay of 10,000 rupees ($US221) and other additional bonuses, along with health checks and medical insurance. Foxconn management has contacted some workers from distant villages who live in the Sriperumbudur area and forced them to report back to work. However, most of them defied that order. Now the factory is staffed partly by workers brought from villages through labor contractors, along with some workers who have given into management threats. However, only a few hundred are working in the factory now. Even the vast majority of the 6,000 contract and trainee workers have joined the strike. On October 19, CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen sent a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi urging his “effective intervention to resolve the crisis” at Foxconn “in the best interest of the company and its 7,400 workers”. That is, the union leader is appealing to the chief minister of a government that has framed up striking Foxconn workers to intervene in the interest of the company.
(World Socialist Web-Site, 25th of October 2010)

* BYD Electronics fires most of its workforce, after police break up sit-in

The Indian subsidiary of the giant Chinese-based BYD Electronics has fired most of the workforce at its plant in Oragadom in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, after the workers staged a sit-in to press their demands for increased wages, an 8-hour work day, the regularization of contract employees, and recognition of their newly-formed union. BYD has now locked out the entire workforce at its Tamil Nadu plant and announced the dismissal of all 2500 contract workers. More than 3,000 of BYD’s 3,350 production workers participated in the plant occupation, which began on the night of October 28 and lasted for almost two days. The workers chose to end their sit-in on the evening of Saturday, October 30, after baton-wielding state police surrounded the plant and vowed to storm it if workers didn’t vacate the premises in 30 minutes. When the BYD workers returned to the plant on Monday, November 1, they found the gates shut, a heavy police presence, and a letter on the company notice board. The letter said BYD is dismissing all its “contract” workers-that is, 2,500 workers the company has hired through recruitment agencies so that it can pay them even less than its 850 “regular” workers.

The BYD notice also announced the firing of 60 regular workers and said 437 others will be required to sign a letter of apology for “misconduct,” i.e., for their participation in the occupation. The three-and-a-half-year-old plant is now closed, ostensibly for a snap week-long “holiday.” Management is using this time to plot with the state government to resume operations using other poor villagers, recruited through various labor contractors, as scabs. Workers at the plant, which produces parts for Nokia cell phones, are forced to work 12-hour shifts. A majority of them are young women. Those with four years’ experience earn just 5,400 rupees (about US $120) per month. Workers approached the Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the union federation led by the Stalinist Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, to form a union on October 9, after BYD announced the layoff of a hundred workers. The vast majority of the workers-regular and contract-soon joined. With the company refusing to negotiate, the workers staged an initial sit-in on October 21. Faced with this militant action, one moreover that united contract and regular workers, the company agreed to hold negotiations with 68 of the workers. But within a week the negotiations broke down because the company insisted that it would not discuss the grievances of the contract workers. Suriyadevi, a young woman worker, told the WSWS, “We don’t get proper food in the company canteen. That’s also run by contractors. During our occupation the management cut off the water supply so that we couldn’t even use the bathroom. There was no canteen facility. All of them were deliberately stopped to exert pressure on the workers to return to work. Now we have been locked out and are standing under the burning sun.”
(World Socialist Web-Site, 4th of November 2010)

* GM workers call off strike, work resumes at Halol plant

Around 450 [other sources say 900 worker] workers went on strike on 29th of October 2010, demanding hike in wages. The plant, which produces 150 vehicles per day, has 900 permanent workers distributed equally between two shifts. The Halol facility has an installed capacity to produce 85,000 units every year in three shifts. The strike was ended after three days. Management claims that the strike was called off unconditionally, while union leaders say that they have a written agreement to negotiate a wage deal.

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. Inflation levels have been high since then. Fort more recent prices see:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-928/

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Responses to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.9/33”


  1. [...] Short articles and reports from the local supply-chain: GurgaonWorkersNews no.33 GurgaonWorkersNews no.35 GurgaonWorkersNews [...]


  2. [...] GurgaonWorkersNews no.33 GurgaonWorkersNews no.35 GurgaonWorkersNews [...]


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