GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 56 – March/April 2013
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:
In the March/April 2013 issue you can find:
1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective
2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area
*** From the 4th of June 2011 to the 18th of July 2012 and beyond – On the cycle of struggle at Maruti Suzuki Manesar -
Political summary and critique of current attempts of organising resistance, distributed in fariadbad majdoor Samachar February 2013 issue. Plus short look at current wage agreements and crisis in the automobile industry in India.
*** Summary of struggle at Eastern Medikit in Gurgaon
Difficult experiences of hundreds of permanent workers employed by an medical equipment manufacturer, who has abandoned the factory.
*** Report on struggle at Senior Flextronics automobile supplier in Manesar
Senior Flexonics is a multi-national automobile supplier. Workers in the Manesar plant have been trapped between lock-out and symbolic actions.
*** Text on strike of hospital nurses in Faridabad
In 2012 around 330 nurses employed at Asian Institute of Medical Sciences and 130 nurses at QRG Central Hospital in Faridabad went on strike for higher wages and workplace related improvements.
*** Report on blind workers strike in Faridabad
In two small industrial areas in Delhi and Faridabad around 250 and 200 blind workers of the National Blind Peoples’ Union (NFB) work in factories. They don’t receive the minimum wage – so they went on strike.
3) Theory and Practice -
Contributions for the Movement
*** ON THE QUESTION OF WORKERS’ ORGANIZATION, by Mouvement Communiste
Recent article for debate, written for a meeting in Nagpur, India.
*** Leaflet for general strike in February 2013, by Parivartan ki Disha
The leaflet is followed by funny quotes from the middle-waged class on the general strike and their experiences in Gurgaon. A workers’ perspective will follow…
*** Towards a workers’ organisation, by GurgaonWorkersNews
French translation of the first part, published in GurgaonWorkersNews no.50
*** Delhi’s Calling: Take Part in Faridabad Mazdoor Talmel -
To abolish the global work/war house will take more than informative exercise! If you live in Delhi area, please be welcomed to take part in Faridabad Mazdoor Talmel – a workers’ coordination. We distribute Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar on ten days each month in various industrial areas around Delhi. You can also participate in the workers’ meeting places which have been opened in various workers’ areas. If you are interested, please get in touch. For more background on Faridabad Mazdoor Talmel see:
1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar / no.289 / July 2012
The permanent workers in the Faridabad Escorts plant are in a difficult situation. Since about three months management has repeatedly put up notices saying that the plant will be closed for some days due to lack of work, while at the same time individual workers who are called by management to attend work will have to come, otherwise they will be marked as absent. Apart from a department in the spare parts division these notices had been put up everywhere. And, apart from a few workers, all permanent workers were actually called to come to work during the days of plant closure, while all casual workers and workers hired through contractor were absent. At Escorts more than half of the work-force is casual or hired through contractor. During the days of ‘production stop’ production actually ran as normal. Behind all this seems to be an attempt of Mahindra management to wrestle control of the Escorts management from the group around Nanda. With the help of the top-management of the Reliance Group Nanda has managed to get the chairman position at Escorts. We have asked other workers in tractor manufacturing companies – at Eicher, for example, production levels are above average, so why these ‘closure days’?
Jayshri Polymer Worker
(Plot 176 – 77, Sector 3, IMT Manesar)
There is not even one permanent worker employed in the factory. Around 40 casual workers and 450 workers hired through four different contractors manufacture rubber parts for Yamaha, Honda and Maruti Suzuki on two 12-hours shifts. We work seven days a work, on Sundays we work from 7 am till 3:30 pm. Overtime is paid at single rate, although legally it should be double. ESI and PF contributions are cut from the wages, but if you quit the job within the first six months you won’t get your PF money, even if you quit after six months it is a big hassle to get the money. They don’t pay the annual bonus. Management has put up letter boxes all over the factory, they ask the workers a lot, but they do nothing. There is no canteen in the factory. All workers put a note into the letter box asking for a canteen – now management gives 2 Rs worth of biscuits with the tea during the nightshift. It is very hot at the workplaces and it stinks of chemicals.
(Plot 666, Udyog Vihar Phase 5, Gurgaon)
there is not a single permanent or casual worker in the plant, all 400 workers are hired through two different contractors.Normal working-times are from 8:30 am till 8:30 pm, but they make you stay and work till midnight. They pay single rate for overtime. The main job of the bosses is to swear at the workers, they also misbehave with the female workers. They cut money for ESI and PF, but not a single worker ever received PF money when leaving the job.
SMS Export Worker
(D-28, Okhla Phase 1, Delhi)
There are 50 permanent workers and 450 workers hired through contractor. No ESI, no PF. The helpers get 200 Rs for an eight hours shift, the tailors get between 225 and 260 Rs.
Super Age Worker
(Plot 109, Sector 6, Faridabad)
Management did not pay our May wages in tyime. When wages were not paid by 10th of June we decided to work only eight hours instead of twelve. Now it’s the 27th of JUne and the boss says that he will pay, but we should first start to work overtime again. We manufacture parts for Yamaha.
AA Autotech Worker
(Plot 190, Sector 5, IMT Manesar)
There are 200 permanent workers, employed as operators, in the tool room and in maintenance. There are 900 workers hired through contractor employed on two 12 hours shifts. The guys who start night-shift at 7 pm on Saturday have to work till 3 pm on Sunday. There is no weekly day off. In two, three months there is three or four days break down. If the workers hired through contractors leave the job within the first six months, they don’t get PF money. There is a canteen, but the roti is machine-made and hard as stone. We manufacture alloy parts for Honda, Hero, Suzuki and Yamaha. It is die casting work, it’s very hot on the shop floor.
(Plot 397. Udyog Vihar Phase 3, Gurgaon)
Around 80 of us are hired through Sodeksho Facility, based in NOIDA, working in the factory in Gurgaon. In March they suddenly sacked 25 of us – they said that Lenko was reducing staff numbers. They assured us that we will get our outstanding wages and one month extra-wage within the following 15 days. It’s mid-June now and they still haven’t paid us. They said that they are in negotiations.
Bright Brothers Worker
(Plot 16, Sector 24, Faridabad)
There are 100 permanent workers employed on three 8-hours shifts and 600 workers hired through two different contractors on two 12-hours shifts. The contractors embezzle 100 to 500 Rs every months from new workers wages. The workers of the contractor who has recently made a runner don’t receive PF money. We manufacture platic parts for Whirlpool and other companies.
Metak System Worker
(Plot 517, Sector 8, IMT Manesar)
When management hired operators in August 2011 for 6,500 Rs a month they said that they would increase the wage by Diwali. When Diwali came they said that they will increase it by April. In April again nothing. When they said on 16th of May that they will not increase the wage, I quit the job. On 9th of June I went to the factory in order to get my outstanding May wages. The boss had told the guard not to let me in and asked me why I had quit the job. He said that he won’t pay my final dues. Workers in the plant work from 9 am till 7:30 pm, manufacturing filters for refinery oil.
Adhunik Overseas Worker
(Plot 17, Sector 6, Faridabad)
In the factory 300 workers on two 12-hours shift die cloths. No permanents, no workers hired through contractors, we are all casuals. No PF, no ESI and for 12 hours shifts, 26 days a month the helpers are paid 6,000 Rs and the operators 7,500 Rs. Wages are paid in installments, sometimes 500 Rs, sometimes 1,000 Rs. March, April and May wages have not been paid yet, now it is middle of June. Most workers have outstanding wages of 15 to 20,000 Rs. The drinking water in the factory is bad. We have to get water from a neighbouring factory.
(Plot 4, Sector 3, IMT Manesar)
The roti in the canteen are like plastic, you can’t chew them, they won’t fill your stomach. And the company deducts 234 Rs canteen money per month from our wages.
India Forge Worker
(Plot 28, Sector 6, Faridabad)
There are 20 to 25 permanent workers employed and 400 workers hired through 25 to 30 different contractors. We manufacture axles and other parts for Maruti Suzuki. The workers hired through contractor get neither PF, nor ESI, no bonus and their wages are between 4,000 and 5,000 Rs. Wages are paid delayed. On 23rd of June Maruti Suzuki was closed for maintenance and the same happens here at India Forge. I myself, in order to avoid the landlord hassling me for rent, leave the room early in the morning, despite the temporary company closure and days off work.
Orient Craft Worker
(Plot 15, Sector 5, IMT Manesar)
At the beginning of June there is little work at the garments export company Orient Craft. Sometimes they send workers of this line home, sometimes from a different line. There are less workers in total, may be around 1,000. They started to cut more money for the Haryana Welfare program, now 15 Rs instead of 5 Rs. And the company still hasn’t given us the promised bicycles.
Yunimex Laboratories Worker
(Plot 7, Sector 24, Faridabad)
The wages of the 35 workers hired through contractor are between 4,000 and 4,500 Rs. No ESI or PF. They use some filtering system in the factory, but the clean water is for production of medicine, not for the workers. Workers have to drink the stale water. From the chemicals, workers fall ill.
(Plot 5, Sector 6, IMT Manesar)
Workers in the manufacturng department work two 12 hours shifts. None of the workers is permanent all 200 are casual workers. They manufacture electrical boards. The fixed revenue target increases every year, They fixed 80 crore for the first three months of 2012. In these three months you cannot take a single day off, they don’t issue gate passes and you have to work each Sunday. There used to be a canteen, but they closed it two years ago. They used to give you a new uniform every year, now every two years. There used to be bottled drinking water, they stopped providing this two years ago.
The company SIS Security has a contract with Amul Diary to employ 26 guards on their premises in Manesar. We work from 6 am till 3 am. We also help loading trucks with milk. On the bases of 9 hours day, 30 days month you earn 4,500 Rs. Wages are delayed. many guards leave the job quickly. You have major difficulties to get your outstanding wages. I left the job on 10th of September and haven’t received my last wage, despite asking frequently – now it’s end of December. They tell you: come in three months, the contract with Amul has ended, we have not received their cheque yet etc..
P and G Worker
(Plot 9, Sector 6, IMT Manesar)
We are 400 workers, manufacturing leather jackets. We work from 10 am till 1 am, on Saturdays you work 18 hours shifts. If they make you stay after 10 pm they give you 50 Rs extra for food. The official wage for the helpers is 4,650 Rs, but the company pays 4,000 Rs. Only 10 or 15 workers have ESI cards. Workers who leave the job don’t get PF.
A Security Worker
HISS, based behind the Satya Cinema in Sector 7, Faridabad, supplies security guards and workers to other companies. At the Auto Lek [?] factory on Mathura Road, District Palwal, the HISS guards work on two 12 hours shifts, 30 days per month. The factory spreads out on 8 to 10 acres. During night-shifts from 8 pm till 8 am there are two gun men, four security guards and one supervisor employed for security. The factory workers work on one shift from 8:30 am till 8:30 pm. At 8:50 pm an official of Auto Lek seals the factory. At 7:30 am the Auto Lek security officer checks the seal and if everything is okay, he signs the register and opens the seal. In the factory there are also about 70 cameras. On 9th of February the seal was checked and opened, in the evening the guards were paid their January wages. Then a manager of Auto Lek said that there has been theft in the factory and that a director of HISS would come to the plant. Everything had been fine with the seal, no windows were broken, no wall dmaged and they had 70 cameras… nevertheless a gunman and two security guards were taken to the Gadpuri police station. When they were sent of the HISS director took their mobile phones and their January wage. They were kept in the station all night and then transfered to Palwal police. There they were beaten. “We don’t know – ask the supervisor”. They were kept in police custody. They sold jewelry of their wifes and asked for money from their village… then they were released. They went to the office of HISS to get phones and wages. These were not given back. Instead they were abused and they were told that they had taken part in stealing five lakh worth of copper.
2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area
After the shock and awe of wildcat workers action, management of automobile companies in India now face a new challenge: how can they tie the minority of permanent workers back in by offering them wage increases which widens the pay-gap between them and the majority of casual and temporary workers, when at the same time the pressure of crisis and over-capacities forces them to squeeze down on labour costs? Just some indications and news snippets below, followed by a recent article of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar distributed amongst workers in various industrial zones in Manesar, Gurgaon, Okhla and Faridabad. It is a political summary of the cycle of struggle at Maruti Suzuki manesar and a critique of the current attempts to organise resistance of the sacked and jailed Maruti workers.
*** Wage (Gap) Increase – October 2012
“Another sector analyst, also on condition of anonymity, said it was in the interest of the auto companies to heed the demands of workers.
Even during last year’s unrest at the Manesar plant, we were telling the company to increase the wages to solve the problem as the impact of such an increase was nominal on margins,” the analyst said. “But look what has happened. The company suffered a revenue loss of Rs.4,000 crore while increasing wages would have increased the wage bill by only Rs.150 crore in three years time.” For most car companies, the wage bill is in the range of 2-3 per cent of their sales. Following Maruti√ïs move, auto industry workers are optimistic of a bigger raise than they would have otherwise expected. “We are all eagerly waiting for the wage hike. We hope we get a good hike of Rs.24,000,” says Guru Ragavendran, a line relief worker at Hyundai who takes home a salary of Rs.33,500 a month. Ford has 1,500 permanent workers in India and 3,200 trainees who will be confirmed in their jobs after three years depending on their performance. Permanent employees received a hike of 15 per cent in April, adding Rs.3,700 to an average monthly salary of Rs.33,000 for permanent workers. According to estimates available with industry experts, the wage bill of Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker, is expected to increase by Rs 65-70 crore after the increments.
“Employee costs as a proportion of net sales may go up to 2.7 per cent from the current 2.4 per cent,” said Yaresh Kothari, auto analyst at brokerage firm Angel Broking. In a pact inked with the Gurgaon-based Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU), Maruti Suzuki increased gross salary by Rs 14,800 per month spread over a period of three years for permanent workers in the company. While 75 per cent of the gross salary increment will be given in the first year, the company will give 12.5 per cent each in the second and third years. Workers at India’s top two-wheeler companies Hero MotoCorp. and Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India have submitted demand notices to their management teams for increased salaries and a housing scheme, among other benefits.
(Livemint, 12th of October 2012)
Wage Struggle at Hero Motorcycle Plant Gurgaon – January 2013
Over one thousand workers at Hero MotoCorp√ïs (HMCL) Gurgaon and Dharuhera plants√ëboth in the northern Indian state of Haryana√ëcarried out a ‘go-slow’ campaign on January 23 to demand higher wages. Workers at the Gurgaon plant have been demanding a monthly wage increase of 15,000 rupees (US$273) over the next three years. Management has only offered a 7,500 rupees (US$136) increase. The same offer was given to workers at the Dharuhera plant last December. Gurgaon workers have pressed for a larger wage hike, citing the relatively higher cost of living in the area and their demand has been supported by the Dharuhera workers. “We will ask the Deputy Labour Commissioner to kindly resolve the matter. We are not for a fight. We want to resolve the issue amicably,” Lal told the WSWS. On this basis, the HMCWU has organized various impotent protests, including calling on workers to wear black badges and refuse tea and snacks offered by the company. The intransigence of Hero management reflects growing concern over the impact of the world economic crisis on the global auto industry and Indian exports in particular. (WSWS, 28th of January 2013) Representatives of employees at the Gurgaon facility said workers would stop cooperating with engineers and supervisors from tomorrow. “The management was concerned that if they hiked our wages significantly more than the Rs 6,500 hike given to our colleagues at Dharuhera, there would be protests. But the workers there understand that living conditions are more expensive in Gurgaon. They are supporting us unconditionally,” added the union leader, who did not want to be named. Hero workers have been asking for a similar increment as at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India” (HMSI) Manesar unit, Haryana, where a 50 per cent hike of Rs 14,770 in monthly salary was announced recently. Hero MotoCorp employs 1,200 permanent workers and 4,000 contract workers at its Gurgaon facility. Wages of temporary workers at Hero, Honda HMSI and Maruti Suzuki are at about 8,000 Rs per month – the pay gap between them and the permanent workers will have further increased after this round of wage agreements.
Struggle at Bosch automobile supplier – March 2013
Auto component maker Bosch Ltd today said workers at its Bangalore plant have gone on a tool down strike from yesterday without prior notice. “Workmen of the company’s Bangalore plant have resorted to an illegal ‘Tool Down’ strike w.e.f. end of first shift of March 7, 2013, without giving any prior notice to the management,” the company said in a filing to the BSE. The company’s Bangalore plant has a history of workers unrest and in September 2011, the plant was shut down temporarily following strike by workers. The strike at Bosch comes on the same day when auto major Mahindra & Mahindra announced that the 3-day tool down strike by workers at its Nashik plant has been called off. At Bosch, an agreement was reached on the working model for the new production line and the suspension of one employee has been withdrawn. The workmen have resumed work at the factory premises starting from the night shift of March 9.
(Economic Times, 8th of March 2013)
*** Crisis – March 2013
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had, in January, revised car sales projection for the fourth time in the current fiscal, forecasting a meagre 0-1 per cent growth, the weakest recorded growth in nearly a decade. This has an impact on the shop-floor. Previously Maruti HR-boss Siddique said, “[the] MSIL plant is coming up at a cost of Rs 4,000 ($727 million) in Gujarat and is expected to take off in 2015-16″. He admitted that “[although] the growth rate was projected at 14 per cent for the auto-industry, it has [now] slowed down to 4 to 5 per cent in the current fiscal period. Thus, he added that “it [has] created a bit of confusion about our Gujarat plans.” The annual production capacity of the plant will be around 1.5 million units which along with current installed capacity at Manesar and Gurgaon will take the total annual capacity over 3.2 million vehicles. In early March 2013, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, announced to undertake a one day-production cut at its Gurgaon plant on Saturday to reduce its stock piles amid flagging domestic sales and a tepid demand outlook. Auto demand in the country has slumped due to rising fuel prices and higher interest rates on loans to purchase vehicles. Earlier, in November, Tata Motors had announced a three-day closure of its Jamshedpur plant from November 29 “as part of an aggressive effort to align production with demand”. Maruti Suzuki had reported a 7.89 per cent decline in its total sales at 1,09,567 units in February 2013, with domestic sales down over 9 per cent at 97,955 units.
(ENS Economic Bureau, 9th of March 2013)
*** Faridabad Majdoor Samachar – no.296 – February 2013
From the 4th of June 2011 to the 18th of July 2012 and beyond (1) -
The practice of Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers
‘What to do and what not to do?’ ‘How to do and how not to do?’, these are important questions. All workers are confronted with these questions at all times. Today and in the near future, the practice of the Maruti Suzuki workers can make an important contribution to find an answer to these questions. Situations like at Maruti Suzuki Manesar will intensify and become more widespread. The position of workers seem to become increasingly favorable, while the condition of the companies and state, despite all of their major efforts, seem to become more and more brittle.
The 950 permanent workers who were union members at Maruti Suzuki Manesar plant were dissatisfied with the union. Company management deducted the union dues from workers’ wages. Some permanent workers secretly prepared for setting up an alternative union. In order to register the new union workers sent documents to the Haryana government’s labour commissioner in Chandigarh. The labour department immediately informed the company about it. Management started to put pressure on workers to accept the existing union and to refrain from setting up a new one.
On the 4th of June 2011 during the time of shift change, both A-shift workers and B-shift workers remained inside the factory when the turmoil started. All workers gathered in one place. Commotion. Workers refused to listen to the factory manager. two-shifts of permanent workers, trainees, apprentices and workers hired through three different contractors who are directly linked to the production process undermine the ‘occupation of the factory through management’. Workers control exits and entrances, advancing towards the control of the whole factory. A company which has an annual production output of 40,000 crore Rupee hasn’t got a clue how to deal with the situation. The central government, which takes over 4 crore Rupee excise duty from Maruti does not know either. The Haryana government, which takes 800 crore annual tax from Maruti is as clueless as management and the central state. This situation lasted for thirteen days. Workers’ representatives/supporters, who see workers as ‘to be pitied’ and ‘un-knowing’ come to an agreement with management and get production going again.
In India today, there are very few workers who you call permanent, the majority are temporary workers. Under these conditions today, only permanent and temporary workers together can form a workers union/organisation. On the 4th of June 2011 at Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory permanent workers, trainees, apprentices, workers hired through contractors together brought a workers union/organisation top the fore. That was not a ‘union’ as it is officially known. Nowadays companies-governments are not able to finish off an actual and practical workers union/organisation.
Workers have (been) stopped. Those permanent and temporary workers directly connected to production, those who work separated in different departments, at different machines and assembly lines, those workers have joint together on the 4th of June 2011. But those workers who take care of water, electricity, canteen, security and other services, those workers hired through 48 contractors have remained at the margins. The 350 drivers hired through contractors employed in sales and dispatch have remained at the margins. The 300 workers employed by suppliers, who work on the Maruti premises remained separate. The drivers who bring parts from the suppliers were not involved. Those 2,500 construction workers, who are working on the expansion of the factory, were not involved. The workers employed in Maruti supplying factories of Belsonica, FMI Energy, Krishna Maruti, SKH Metal and JBM, which are situated on the 600 acre Maruti premises remained at the margins. All these workers could immediately link up with an emerging workers union/organisation. The workers of the thousands of automobile, textile, pharmaceutical, IT factories, which surround Maruti Suzuki in IMT Manesar could join in without major difficulties. It would not be too hard for workers in Gurgaon, Okhla, Noida, Faridabad who work in factories of the 300 official Maruti suppliers and in thousands of inofficial work-shop suppliers to become part of it. And Maruti is not only connected to Japan, cars are exported to 120 different countries… The global dimension and international character of an emerging workers union/organisation is in front of us.
While companies support-foster ‘workers trade unions’, they cannot bear actual workers unions/organisations. The workers union/organisation which emerged at Maruti Suzuki Manesar on 4th of June 2011 did not grow and expand and the company stuck to the plan of finishing it off. On the other side those permanent and temporary workers directly linked to production proceeded on their path to deepen their bond. At the end of August 2011 company and state were prepared to attack them. Permanent and temporary workers together kept up their organised bond and sat outside of the factory for 24 hours over a month. All kind of people and groupings came to meet the workers. Workers listened to everyone, but did what they thought is right. Seeing that it won’t get through the company changed course. Workers representatives/supporters who think that workers have no consciousness and don’t understand again forged an agreement on the 30th of September 2011. On 3rd of October 2011 the company let all permanent workers, trainees and apprentices apart from 44 suspended workers back to work, but refused entry to 1,200 to 1,500 workers hired through contractors who had been directly employed in production. The company proceeded quickly on the path of breaking the workers’ union/organisation when… when on 7th of October 2011 both A-shift and B-shift workers remained inside the factory and shook the ‘occupation of the factory through management’. Workers controlled the exists and entrances and either expelled those workers who had been hired by the company during the lock-out or convince them to join them. This time workers of 11 other factories in IMT Manesar also remained inside their factories and questioned management’s control. The whole issue was on the way to become bigger and to spread. Those workers’ representatives/supporters who see workers as poor and unknowing reduced the emerging organisation to the four factories of the Suzuki group. On the 14th and 15th of October 2011 workers – facing a huge police army and influence of prominent workers’ leaders – were forced to leave the factories. Workers sat outside and production in the four factories remained suspended. Company and government did not understand what it was what workers wanted. Then on 19th and 21st of October 2011 an agreement was settled and all workers hired through contractors were taken back, while 30 workers were secretly given money and made to resign.
Workers were angry about the fact that 30 workers had resigned for money, but they were not disheartened. The notion that ‘we will make decisions ourselves’ was strong. The company slowly-cautiously started to undertake steps. The company themselves gave what is called concessions. The work-pace was slowed down, instead of one car every 45 seconds speed was reduced to one car per minute. Wages for trainees, apprentices and workers hired through contractors were increased. Permanent workers were promised a significant wage increment. The number of company buses was increased. The parents were included into the health insurance scheme. They increased the number of annual holidays… A second union was registered and management recognised it. The union gave management a demand notice. Negotiations started between management and union about a three-years agreement…
When in February-March 2012 workers started to feel that after having done so much, nothing had really changed. ‘To take care of workers’ was seen as management talk. Workers remained workers – so what had changed? This is why the suspension of a worker on 18th of July 2012 was not to remain an ordinary act. Workers rebelled against being workers. There are two symbols standing for making-keeping a worker a worker: workers made managers and the factory building the target of their attack. The large numbers of security guards and 60 to 70 police men just stood aside and watched. No guard (or bouncer/muscle-man) got injured. If the new union leader would have tried to hold back workers, he had been the first to be beaten. This was not an act of a group of 20 or 50 workers, but over thousand of young and old, permanent and temporary workers were involved in the rebellion. It was a coincidence that it happened on the 18th of July, it could have happened on the 15th of may or 25th of August. It is true that the manager and the factory building are symbols, they stand for a social relation… but in practice the embodied/tangible form becomes a first target and consecutively the social relation comes to the fore. Workers can extinct a factory in an half an hour attack… the fear which it instills amongst the bosses is not limited to the Delhi region, but spreads to other places.
All workers know that company and state will attack in revenge. The government installed a permanent commando of 600 police in IMT Manesar, 147 workers are in jail and there is a arrest warrant for further 65 workers. The company has sacked 546 workers and kicked out 2,500 workers hired through contractor. After six months of jail, till now end of February 2013 none of the jailed workers has been granted bail. According the leading manager of Maruti Suzuki this is class war. A Maruti Suzuki Manesar worker: “If the 18th of July had been a thing of the whole of IMT Manesar, it would have been a real thing”.
For workers it is the first priority to increase their own power. Who is the workers’ own? The workers’ own is the other worker. Therefore the first act is to go to other workers and to form a bond with them. This is why for the Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers, after the 18th of July 2013, the thousands of surrounding factories became their potential terrain of activity. The impact of the events in IMT Manesar on the government was direct, but moreover the knowledge that the wave might spread to Gurgaon, Okhla, Noida, Faridabad. This is not supposed to happen, therefore… Workers’ representatives/supporters who see workers as victims (2) and as lacking consciousness adviced the Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers to start on a path of falsehood. thousands of leaflets were distributed amongst workers in Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad. Knowingly or not, these ‘do-gooders and well-meaners’ motivated workers to proceed on a path which will tire them out. Honest and dishonest workers’ supporters, both gave information notices to the deputy commissioner, to legislators, to the ministers, to the prime minister, they demonstrated in Gurgaon, they demonstrated in Delhi, demonstrations in Zind and Bhivani, protests by the family members of the jailed and sacked workers, hunger strikes, bicycle protest tours from all four corners of Haryana to Rohtak… these can be important additional steps, but to focus and rely on them will lead to nothing else but tiredness amongst the workers. The workers hired through contractors are also left on the margins of these protests. Without a doubt, the workers in jail and the sacked workers are still firm and committed. If the 400 or so sacked workers outside jail would now focus on going amongst the workers of IMT Manesar, then…
For detailed reports on the cycle of struggle at Maruti Suzuki Manesar:
Some examples of turning a mass of unruly energetic young workers into tired victims:
“CITU has asked workers in Gurgaon and Manesar to organize a ‘lunch boycott’ at their respective units, in protest at the mass sackings conducted at Maruti’s Manesar plant after the July episode of violence and arson there. The union members have urged workers in all factories operating in this belt to give up on their afternoon and evening meals on October 19. A gate meeting for all workers has also been scheduled for October 17. “On October 19, we want the workers to work at their units, but they should refuse to have any food at the plant, as an expression of protest against such management practices,” said a CITU representative.”
From a press release by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, 12th of November 2012:
“We spoke to the minister, Surjewala, who listended to our demands, and gave assurance to resolve the issue at the earliest and speak to the Labour minister, Shiv Charan Lal and the Chief Minister after diwali. Earlier, starting on 7th morning, the MSWU completed its two-day hunger strike and dharna on the evening of 8th November in Gurgaon with a spirited mass rally of over 3000 struggling workers joined by over 1000 workers from Eastern Medikit and other factories, and others who came in solidarity, forcing the government to take notice of our present condition. We broke our hunger strike in front of the DC Office and inside the jail at 4pm, and took out the mass rally from the Mini Secretariat to the Youth and Sports Minister, Sukhbir Kataria’s residence in the Bus stand-Railway station road in Gurgaon, who came down to the street to listen to our demands, and gave us assurance of resolving our demands by taking it up with the Chief Minister after diwali.”
PUDR: “The entry of corporations and multinationals in the absence of any semblance of protection for workers√ï rights makes the working class vulnerable to the violence and illegal actions of the state machinery and capital today that we need to collectively resist.”
*** Summary of struggle at Eastern Medikit in Gurgaon
Difficult experiences of hundreds of permanent workers employed by an medical equipment manufacturer, who has abandoned the factory.
Eastern Medikit Worker
(Plot 195 and 205, Udyog Vihar Phase 1 / Plot 292, Phase 2 and Sector 37, Gurgaon)
On 18th of May management suddenly ‘disappeared’ and abandoned the factories in Gurgaon. The company has 25 to 30 crore debts with the Punjab National bank and the Union Bank of India. They owe 2.5 crore to the Provident Fund, they owe money to the raw material suppliers, they owe 60 lakh Rs to the Gurgaon Grameen Bank – money was cut from workers’ wages in order to pay back the loan, but the money has never been transferred to the bank. Outstanding payments for the electricity bill of 60 to 65 lakh Rs Outstanding wages for 1135 permanent workers according to the three-years collective agreement between management and union dated 2009. Since July 2011 money which has been cut from permanent workers’ wages for ESI and PF has not been paid into the funds – embezzled. The labour department gave us dates for hearings till 30th of May, then they stopped meeting us – they try to contact the managing director, but they don’t succeed. We gave a notification to the Deputy Commissioner in Gurgaon on 15th of June. No one listened – because there were no demands, no one got suspended or dismissed, there was no protest. Having heard all this, the destitute leaders of the Eastern Medikit Employees Union announced that the respective ailing factories can not be run.
In 1988 Eastern Medikit started on a small rented plot in Azadpur, Delhi. In 2007 there were 1,100 permanent and 3,000 casual workers employed in Eastern Medikit factories. Since 2000 there is a trade union: the permanent workers work 8-hours shifts, while the casual workers work 12 hours; production target for the permanent workers is 500 piece, while for the casual workers it is 800 to 1,100. permanent workers get their wage on the 7th, while casuals get it on the 22nd or 25th of the month; the wages for the same work differ significantly. Casual workers get even less than single rate for overtime – according to the union, if the company would pay double rate like prescribed by the law the company would not be able to survive in the competition and would have to be closed. Money for ESI and PF is cut from casual workers wages, but they neither get an ESI card, and only with a lot of struggle they get the fund money. When 3,000 casual workers in the Gurgaon Udyog Vihar factories engaged in a wildcat strike during night-shift on 18th of December 2007 in order to obtain their November wages, the management called the police. It has become a routine that management calls the police against the casual workers. In October 2011 the company started to kick out casual workers on a large scale. By December 1,700 were left, during December itself further 900 were sacked. And they started to delay the wage payments of the permanent workers. Since 16th of April the permanent workers had to work on two 12-hours shifts. When electricity was cut at the 292 plot plant in December 2011 due to unpaid bills, production continued with the help of generators. When in the other factories electricity was cut on 12th of May work continued with generators for five further days… on 18th of May management disappeared.
The chairman – managing director has opened a new company in nearby Dehradun, under the name of Global Medikit. They have four factories there, production has started in two of them. They have started to send components from here to Dehradun. Several times the permanent workers tried to stop the dismantling and relocation of machinery, but the union representatives, referring to the threat of suspensions, actually helped to get the machines transported away. So what is the use of a union? This is the question of Eastern Medikit permanent workers. Since more than a month now the 1,100 permanent workers guard the factories. What comes after the labour department and the visits to the DC? The union has proposed a protest sit-in in front of the company’s main office in Delhi. Workers went to Delhi, but referring to the law the police chased them away after two hours. On 5th of July the same sad story repeated itself in front of the residence of the deputy labour commissioner. So what is left to be done apart from the known ritualistic evasion in form of calling other unions and make their leaders give speeches?
It is clear that the company does not belong to anybody. It is also clear that the government will not be able to give workers hope. If we take into account the recent experiences of collective wildcat actions by Eastern Medikit casual workers and the fact that shortly before the Eastern Medikit dispute workers at Harsoria Healthcare, another medical equipmnet manufacturer, briefly occupied their factory in the same industrial area, we can state that the question of a new trajectory for the Eastern medikit workers is not a theoretical problem. Eastern Medikit workers face the necessity and have got the time to go to the hundreds of neighbouring factories in Udyog Vihar Gurgaon and to address the hundred thousands of workers. to raise the problem of workers in one factory as a problem of thousands of factories is the first step towards a new trajectory.
Short article on casual workers wildcat at Eastern Medikit in 2007:
Article on struggle at Harsoria Healthcare in 2012:
Further news snippets:
“The management has stopped production since May 18 without any prior notice and stopped coming to work since then,” said Sanjay Malik, the president of All Eastern Medikit Employees’ Union. “There is no electricity or drinking water, just a few security guards and 2,000 workers sitting idle,” he said. On August 2, the factory owner did not come to the office of the deputy labour commissioner where the workers and other officials had been kept waiting. The workers were expecting something from the talks between the labour department and company owners. “It seems that the company is not interested in anything now, so now we have hopes that the court will get us our dues,” said Malik. “We met the district commissioner 15 days ago and he said that he would look into the matter, but has failed to do so. We met the DC again to remind him of our woes and told him that we would sit on a hunger strike if the operations do not get started and our salaries are not paid.He will be responsible if the agitation goes out of hand,” said Sanjay Malik, president, Eastern Medikit employees union.
Advocate Santosh Pandey, representing the company, said the employees had stopped working. “The workers wanted to go on an illegal strike and prevented the release of finished goods worth Rs 5 crore from the factory,” he said, adding that the management stopped going to the factory for fear of violence. Apart from shop-floor workers at its five plots in Gurgaon, Eastern Medikit had around 400 managerial staffers. “We have not been paid for even longer than the workers,” said a senior manager of the company who didn’t want to be identified. “We have been in touch with the management for our dues, but there have been no clear answers,” he said, adding that the unstated plan seems to be to abandon the business and gradually dispose off the land assets in Gurgaon. CARE downgraded Eastern Medikit’s ratings in December 2011 to ‘CARE D’ – indicating that a default had already occurred or was likely to occur. “The rating revision took into account the delays in debt servicing by EML,” said the CARE analyst in charge of Eastern Medikit.
(Economic Times, 9th of August 2012)
*** Report on struggle at Senior Flextronics automobile supplier in Manesar
Senior Flexonics is a multi-national automobile supplier. Workers in the Manesar plant have been trapped between lock-out and symbolic actions.
Senior Flexonics Worker (Plot 89, Sector 8, IMT Manesar)
We have already written about the lock-out at this international automobile supplier. Workers were kicked out by the police on 19th of May 2012, since then they are running back and forth between small demonstrations and meetings at the labour department. In mid-June workers started a sit-in protest in front of the labour department, far away from the industrial area. On 21st of May management had given a dismissal letter to those workers hired through contractors who had been employed at Senior Flexonics for a longer time. Representatives of various unions met with the DC in Gurgaon about the situation. A demonstration was organised. Inside the factory production runs with the help of workers hired in January 2012. On 2nd of July around 60 permanent workers of Senior Flexonics again have a sit-in protest at the labour department. Management says that aprt from 15 workers, all the other can come back on duty. After six months of struggle experiences do the workers at Senior Flexonics not see the need to find a different path of struggle? Instead of sitting in front of the labour department office, Senior Flexonics workers could find more relieve and support by addressing other workers in IMT Manesar directly.
Article on earlier stages of the Senior Flexonics dispute:
On 7th of May 2012 around 330 nurses employed at Asian Institute of Medical Sciences and 130 nurses at QRG Central Hospital in Faridabad went on strike for higher wages and workplace related improvements. Going back and forth between the Haryana labour department, the administration and the chief minister, the struggling nurses became disheartened. The support of various trade unions and members of parliament in Keral (most nurses are from Keral) could not bring about significant changes of the situation. When the police raised serious charges against the nurses at Central Hospital, it was the last straw – after one month of strike the nurses went back to work. But with a demonstration on the 8th of June the nurses at the Asian Hospital continued their strike. The female and male nurses continued their sit-down protest in the open summer heat. Contrary to the hope of management the nurses remained determined. Several negotiation meetings between management, labour commissioner and SDM took place. The dispute circled around the question “We won’t take the five [suspended] back on” and “All should be allowed to return to work”. The leadership of the National(ist) Kongress Party demonstrated in support on the 20th of June in front of Kerala House in Delhi and ministers issued announcements about the struggle. On 27th of June the deputy labour commissioner declared that there wont be any wage increase, that nurses will be shifted between departments and that the five [suspended] will remain outside for fifteen days – there will be an inquiry. ‘Accept these points and management will return to the negotiation table’. The nurses did not accept these proposals by the labour commissioner and Asian Hospital management. In return, labour commissioner and manager did not agree to the offer of the nurses’ representatives: no wage increase, but paid strike days; no shifts between departments; the five will be taken back after 15 days. The chief minister of Kerala announced the agreement on 3rd of July. When the nurses went back to work, everything turned out to be different from what was announced as agreement. Many nurses were told that they won’t be taken back, because new nurses had been hired. Workers were shifted from here to there. All nurses refused there conditions. The chief minister of Kerala was phoned. Another agreement: 80 per cent of the nurses will attend a six days class, they will then work where they had worked before; for the remaining 20 per cent of nurses it will take 40 to 45 days before they will be taken back on duty. The nurses’ representatives signed this agreement, but because the managing director of the Asian Hospital had left, management did not sign the agreement. The nurses who returned from the strike now sit in the hospital hall and watch documentaries…
From: Faridabad Majdoor Samachar. No. 283
In Mundka (Delhi) and Mujesar (Faridabad) work around 450 blind workers of the National Blind Peoples’ Union (NFB) in factories. They don’t receive the minimum wage. They don’t receive ESI cards and PF forms. Between April and June 2011 a lot of them lost their jobs. They were often forced to stay longer than 8 hours and they received nno payment for these extra-hours. On 9th of November management said that they will shift payment to piecerate, according to calculation of the blind workers they would be paid 2,600 Rs per months for working 12 hours every day. In order to resist management plans the blind workers went on strike. On 24th of November 2011 workers and supporters hold a demonstration in front of the headquarter of the NFB. According to the workers the actual goal of the NFB is not: “Leadership of the blind through the blind”. but “exploitation of the blind through the blind”. Blind people have posts high up in the NFB. After the demonstration on 24th of November did not show results the blind workers started a protest assembly in the governmental district. Further demonstrations and meeting on 3rd of December, on ‘World Disability Day’. Another big demonstration on 21st of December. A sit-down protest in fronbt of the ministry for social justice on 2nd of January. The NFB has hired some new workers for 4,000 to 5,000 Rs per month, supposedly to replace the protesting workers.
3) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News
*** ON THE QUESTION OF WORKERS’ ORGANIZATION, by Mouvement Communiste
Recent article for debate, written for a meeting in Nagpur, India.
ON THE QUESTION OF WORKERS’ ORGANIZATION
“Workers emancipation will be the task of the workers themselves” First International statutes. Karl Marx
“Communism is for everybody or for nobody” Unknown militant
“Movement creates organization but organization does not create movement” Luciano Parlanti, Fiat worker, founder of the Worker Student Assembly 1970.
These three sentences set out the basis of what is to be done, give the goal, and indicate the method and the actor, but do not provide recipes because we don√ït need recipes but we need to restore praxis to understand what to do.
Necessity of organization
The question of organization is at the heart of any transformation process, whatever class carries it out. There is no revolution without organization. Organization is the most obvious material proof of social being, of social nature. It is equally an expression of its state of consciousness, as the collective subject of social transformation.
Historically, proletarian organization corresponds first to the emergence of the exploited class as a class that does not define itself by its reality of oppression and exploitation. Proletarian organization thus corresponds to its process of overcoming its nature as a class for capital. It experiences backwards as well as forwards steps. Proletarian organization is the concrete manifestation of the lived contradiction for the proletariat between its being for capital and its being for itself.
Without organization the dual nature of the proletariat would not have any tangible reality. Organization translates and formalizes the consciousness of this contradiction, this dual nature, and of the necessity of its overcoming through the process of liberation from the wage system. Organization is above all a matter of consciousness. To say it better: it is consciousness embodied in the revolutionary class.
The question of organization is asked correctly above all by making it dependent on a formalization of revolutionary consciousness gained collectively by means of the real daily struggles against capital and its State. To create an organization those struggles must be sufficiently intense to generate revolutionary consciousness. The form of these struggles can only be political, that is potentially overcoming the simple restructuration of dominant social relationships to sketch out other social relationships incompatible with societies divided into classes and possessing value.
Its political dimension
The expression of this antagonism can only be political, not in the sense of the bourgeois art of mediation, but in the sense of the revolutionary theory of rupture with the dominant social relationships, of methodical deconstruction and of the planned foundation of a society without value, classes and State.
Communism as a real movement cannot be reduced to the immediacy of its demand, even by radical means. On the contrary, this is a long term process, uneven, made of steps forwards and backwards that impose on the class that bears it, in the actual world, the need to define a project, a complex plan of social transformation, a plan with a political form and a social content, a plan that is not conceived in Marxist laboratories but that is built within struggles and through political class struggle. This struggle, along with the organization that it produces, performs life-sized experimentation with a new power.
This new power is first restricted to a prohibitive power (prohibition of the orders of factory management, prohibition of commodity circulation, prohibition of the use of ruling class power, etc.), Once the demolition of the existing order is widely in evidence, then working class power rushes along the narrow path towards the reconstruction of social relationships on a new communist basis.
To do this, political organization that exists inside this project that was born for this purpose must plunge its roots into the productive and reproductive processes of capital. The decomposition movement of capitalist social relationships exists only in relation to the dimension of these fully deployed social relationships. It grows through all spheres of capital. A society of capital that is extremely centralized, planned and diffused to integrate and subordinate every relationship between individuals everywhere in the world. Capital rules both by globalizing and individualizing social relations
Our role in this process consists of politically and theoretically defending this perspective and, through intervention in class conflicts, contributing to the growth of the collective capacity to understand and criticize the real terms of confrontation. For this task we want to stress the importance of two major tools:
1. The concrete critique of capital and its real movement, realized by means of a rigorous but not dogmatic application of the categories elaborated by Marx and Engels in their critique of political economy.
2. The worker’s enquiry as a method used to understand the thousand and one facets of exploitation in the greatest possible detail, the living composition of the exploited class and its perception of its own condition, all at the same time. When proletarians appropriate worker’s enquiry for themselves it becomes a tool of organization and understanding.
For us, production is the main sphere of capital’s existence, capital√ïs contradiction and thus the possibility of overthrowing it. This does not mean there is nothing to do in the reproductive sphere – on the contrary! – but that sites of production are the centre of the capitalist system where the collective worker is confronted with the collective machine (i.e. the whole assembly of machines, production process and ‘factory order’) This is the place where the naked truth of capitalism can be understand by workers and where it can be attacked.
Then two questions arise:
1. What are the places of production today where the big factories of the √ï60 and √î70s have disappeared in the Western countries (but obviously not in India and China, for instance)?
2. What are the means to make the collective worker into a living thing?
A site of production is a place where raw materials, semi-finished products or parts are transformed or parts are assembled in a finished product. But production is not restricted to this place. It must include all the places (upstream and downstream) necessary to the realization of commodities (a commodity only becomes a commodity when it is sold on a solvent market) transportation, storage, etc. This is fundamental to understand because this knowledge is a necessary basis for struggles to do the most harm to the most bosses with the least cost to the workers.
“In the first place, according to Marx, the reproduction of capitalist society resides in the act of productive consumption of labour power, that is to say within the factory, while the capitalist sets in motion and uses the creative power of the collective worker in the labour process (process of immediate production). If this is the case, it is erroneous to look for the foundation of consciousness elsewhere than in the workshops of social production, i.e. elsewhere than in the daily struggles against the machine, the factory authorities, and the organization of concrete work.” MC Letter #11 October 2003
But we (like the operaists before us) understand the factory not as a place of production (while continuing to analyse the cycle of production so as to understand what type of organisation of production requires what form of workers’ struggle) but first of all as a place of struggle where workers constitute themselves as a class in itself.
There have been and still are political groups or workers collectives that still like to criticize union policies because they are not enough this or too much that. They focus on the form (Unions) but don’t question what is the basis in capitalist society that allows the existence of unions.
“The reproduction of the exploited class, of the commodity of which it is the exclusive bearer ‘the ability to do the work which creates new value’ is at the origin of the union question. The commodity labour power therefore possesses two specific properties:
1. On the one hand, it is the only commodity having the faculty, in certain objective conditions of production, of expanding wealth in the form of capital. This is a fact generally known and accepted.
2. On the other hand, it is the only commodity which is systematically sold below its value. The value added does not serve to remunerate labour power as such but only to buy the things necessary for its reproduction. It is considered by the capitalists as an objective resource of production, an innate use value, in the same way as the earth is.
Even on this level, that of the mercantile exchange of equivalents, labour power is not situated at all on the same plane as other commodities. This is no mere detail. It is, on the contrary, the profound reason for the workers having an interest in organizations which, despite their political compromises with the dominant classes and their integration into the state, try to make this selling relation more equitable, more balanced.” MC Letter #11 October 2003
Once the existence of unions is understood as a product of the position of the working class within capitalist relationships, there is another trap to avoid. This is that of restricting struggles (both inside and outside factories) to the demand level that in essence recognizes a status to the owner (bosses or/and the State). Against this the principle to be followed is ‘Don’t demand it, take it, and so organize to do this’ If you want to reduce the pace of the assembly line, if you want to reduce the working day, if you want to suppress dangerous production, let’s organize ourselves to do it. This long time motto dating from the days of the IWW was exemplified and fully developed in Italy in the late 60s and 70’s.
This is also the only mean to practically undermine the influence and power of the unions whether rank and file or bureaucratic ones. Because it√ïs not only a question of methods, of recipes for organization: if we stay on the terrain of improving conditions or ‘more of this, more of that’, ‘deeper this, deeper that’ we will remain sooner or later on the terrain of unions, and play the role of radical critics but not of communists trying to overcome present conditions, contrary to the unions that can√ït and won√ït overcome the restricted point of view of capitalist society.
Obviously we are not against improvement of conditions but the ones we like most are those that are ‘gained’ by workers own struggle and own organization.
“The communists, though concerned about improving the material condition of the working class and its wage, know that the best way to defend it is to attack the foundations of capitalism, the relations of exploitation themselves. The economic struggle only makes sense in the framework of the perspective of proletarian revolution. For communists material demands are not therefore an end in themselves. They are understood only as an expression of a balance of forces between struggling labour and capital.”
“‘The satisfaction of workers’ demands is always ephemeral, because the concessions made by capital can at any instant be taken back again, exclusively according to its imperatives of valorisation. If the defensive everyday struggles remain the school of communism, on a historical scale, they have to go beyond the narrow horizon of category, of enterprise, of nation, of prices and value.” MC Letter #11 October 2003
For us the necessary tool is the workers committee , i.e. a body created by workers themselves for a clear goal. Generally minoritarian at its beginning, it is not an organ created by decree or a principled declaration of comrades within a factory. The founders of the committee must have been selected by previous struggles and must be recognized by other factory workers (even by opponents) because they are able to launch initiatives and don√ït just follow the unions.
The method for action and reflection (even if we advocate a fusion of these two poles of proletarian activity) is the refusal of delegation and the participation of the greatest number of workers whenever actions are an open struggle or action against the bosses. Even negotiations must be held in front of the workers.
A workers committee is rooted within the entire factory and organized on a workshop, department and factory basis. Workers committees are a place where workers understand their actions and struggles before, during and after in order to draw up a clear balance sheet and prepare the next step.
To go back to workers committee activities, once they have a strong basis within factories they must take in hand √íoutside the factory√ì activities; such as free or low-fare means of transport for getting to work (‘It is the boss who should pay to transport us to work, commuting time is work time’), lower utility bills, reduction or free appropriation of foods in super markets, reduction of rents, occupation of empty houses, etc. These actions are not items on a list to be strictly followed. They are only examples to show what the activities of such proletarian formations can be. Let’s also remember that this is not an already defined progressive advance. Class struggle is made of ups and downs, steps forwards and backwards. But this way is the continuation along the same path of what has already been practiced in factories, in the continuity of ‘don’t demand it, take it and organize’. The same goes for proletarians conquering ‘free spaces’ to live and experiment practically what another society can be like. Thus workers committees make it possible to anticipate communism and to understand the main obstacle that remains on this road: the state.
One thing must be made clear: if workers committees have a clear ‘guide for action’ as described before, they are within this frame open to every worker, even from different political tendencies. But two things have to be remembered:
1. They are not a discussion group or workers parliament.
2. They are a political tool prepared for the long term struggles and are first of all against the unification of the class for the sake of unification but rather act as a cornerstone pushed into the ranks of the working class to clearly mark the separation between the ‘workers left-wing’ and the ‘workers right-wing’ in order to attract the ‘workers centre’.
That is to say they are a first of all a moment of delimitation within the class itself in order to prepare the future assembly. It is well known and widely known that there are enemies of the workers ‘outside’ the working class: Bosses, political parties and, above all, the State. But workers uprisings have all been first defeated from within the ranks of the working class to be, secondly, slaughtered and repressed from the Russian revolution, the German revolution, the Spanish revolution and, closer to us, in 1968-1980 in Italy and Argentina. Unions, Stalinist parties (or, according to national differences, others such as the Peronist ones in Argentina) are strong opponents to workers emancipation (not to say Communism) are not alien to working class – they are counter revolutionary organs composed of workers who do not share the idea of revolution. This an important point to stress because we have no angelic vision of the working class.
Now the next step in the process is the association, merger of workers committees in regional then nationwide, then worldwide autonomous assemblies. This is not a territorial expansion but rather a progression from the particular to the general, from partial specificity to general concreteness in its full meaning of developed and defined reality in all its parts. A single committee can (even if it is unlikely) embody this concreteness contrary to a larger, broader national or international organization that can be, at that time, only an addition of partial specificities √ê for example, this is the case with the so-called class struggle unions.
The process to create these new broader proletarian bodies is for us a centralisation from bellow because it must come from the needs and the will of the workers committees and not be imposed form the top by whatever organizations. This process is obviously not straight forward but will be complex and not without conflict. Some committees, according to different understandings of their situation or their political links, may decide to separate at one moment to re-associate at another one. This process is neither a pre-defined plan nor the only way to do things. These examples are drawn from Italy in the ’70s:
1. the Autonomous assembly in the Venice area created in 1972 and surviving up to 1976, based on workers committees from the chemical industry (but not only), suburb-dwellers committees, neighbourhood committees, students committees,
2. the workers committees coordination in the Milan area from winter 1976 to summer 1977, that merged factory committees and neighbourhood committees.
But Assembly can be created in a different manner as also happened in Italy. An assembly (like the student-workers assembly in Turin from June to September 1969 or at the beginning of the one in Venice) is a kind of pre-Soviet but such an assembly either must go upwards towards a Soviet (if the course of things allows it) or it must disappeared. Also an Assembly is a step towards the unification of workers.
When we talk about centralization from bellow we have explained that this centralization comes from the necessity of worker struggles and of common actions against the same enemies. And ‘from below’ means clearly against a ‘top’ that will claim to lead the process. But we must not forget that centralization a word that clearly is opposed to federalism, i.e. an association of ‘free’ parts which never consider themselves as part of an assembly but as a ‘master in its own house’ jealous of its independence not understanding that this gives strength to the state and the bosses. Centralization is clearly a process, and an organization may at one moment, after free discussion, decide for this choice and not that one.
But as we have no religion of organization, it is possible at one moment to have two possible actions to perform and only the practice can be the ‘criterion of truth’. Every possibility must be examined, including the risk of questioning. This risk is necessary to progression, like an imbalance of the body is necessary for walking. Centralisation comes through the political unification of workers bodies.
The proletariat will have to attack the global and concentrated dimension of capitalist relationships along with their innumerable specific and individual variations. The scale of its organization is required to cover all the dimensions of modern social relationships. It is an organization able to strike according to plan at the most important nerve centres of the integrated capitalist system but also at its most peripheral and secondary derivations.
Proletarian organization is international and global. On one side, it is centralized not in its form but regarding its general political plan. On the other hand, proletarian organization is local, and draws its strength from the specificity of social relationships, of the diversity of productive and reproductive territories. It is even the immediate product of those specificities and of struggles that they triggered. There is no non-rooted proletarian organization.
Proletarian organization is born in factories, in offices, in neighbourhoods, in the countryside. It could not be any other way because it is an effective tool of struggles coming from factories, in offices, in neighbourhoods, in the countryside. Revolutionary organization is composed of proletarians and poor peasants whose consciousness of the necessity of social transformation asserts itself first in an inductive way, through confrontation with situations of real oppression and exploitation. The reflexive dimension, the theory of the necessity of social transformation, never lacking in fact, becomes the main item on the agenda when struggle is able to secrete a stable organization of the most determined proletarians, √íthe nucleus of the party√ì.
The constitution of the world proletariat’s political organization is not decreed. It is the consequence of a connection first, then political centralization around a plan made by proletarian political bodies produced by struggles. This process has nothing in common with the federalist ideal dear to anarchists, because the reason for being of proletarian organization is to concentrate forces from oppressed classes around a single plan for social war – a plan that does not forget to target the specificities of global capital domination but that hopes to supersede them in the general movement towards communism.
This movement wants to target capitalist social relationships as such, beyond the differences of its articulation. The kind of organization that we want looks like the First International. It is a structure where to some extent various sensitivities and various expressions (including contradictory ones) of the formalization of revolutionary consciousness live side by side united by a single tension and a centralized action plan.
MC/KpK December 10th 2012
Leaflet – Issued by a workers journal, Parivartan ki Disha, Nagpur
on Feb 12, 2013, Translated from Hindi
Make the nationwide general strike on 20, 21 February a success through your own initiatives!
Central Trade Unions have called for a countrywide general strike on 20-21 February. Workers from all central institutions and industries like Banking, Coal, Transportation, Postal, Shipping, Ordinance (Defense), Steel will observe this two-day all India level strike by organizing rallies against anti-worker policies of the government. Unions have demanded that the price-hikes should be controlled and concrete measures should be taken towards employment generation, contract workers should get wages and benefits equal to permanent workers, every citizen should get pension, and minimum wages should be at least Rs 10,000 per month. We support these demands of the unions and appeal to the workers and common masses to give the strike a massive support. However, we would like to underline the fact that there is an established opinion among union leaders and workers that a general strike of unionized workers in the organized sectors is enough to ensure a 100% success of the strike. But is this understanding correct? Without the participation of millions of unorganized workers (those who are not members of unions) in our struggle, in our movement and in our strikes, can our movement attain its aims and objectives? We the workers should give serious thoughts to this question.
The Call for a Strike and Today’s Situation
Last year on Feb 28 there was another one-day countrywide strike on the call of the unions. What did we achieve from that strike? There was a hope among union leadership that the strike would pressurize the government to agree to bring the unions to table to discuss their demands, but this hope proved to be false. Whether the government is that of UPA or of NDA, or of any party or alliance, Indian government itself is a big capitalist, an investor. Indian government is itself selling capital to foreign capitalists by taking it out from the public industries, for investing in other countries for more profit. In this situation, for unions to think that workers√ï interests would be protected if their mother parties form or join the government is very distant from the reality. Today throughout the globe the slowdown of capitalist production and distribution has plunged the system into a deep crisis because of its own contradictions. The efforts of the G-8 and G-20 countries to come out of this crisis have taken the forms of new economic policies, new labour policies that establish contract system, outsourcing, foreign investment, divestment, privatisation, multinationalisation etc. Capitalist governments everywhere are indulging in deception, fraudulent practices and measures in order to provide oxygen to their respective economies. In this situation, to differentiate between the American and Indian governments and support the latter is purely a bourgeois point of view. In the same manner to differentiate between foreign capital and national capital and take the side of national capital against foreign capital is anti-working class since the colour& character of both the foreign as well as national capital is same√ëto exploit workers in every possible way. On the contrary, we must adopt a working class position and advance on the basis of a long-term working class understanding. Today to say that the working class should follow the ideals of Gandhi, Vivekananda or other saints (as some unions have said this in their leaflets) will amount to a gross neglect of the specificities of the changed reality. Could anyone have imagined 100 years back that India would attain such a high level of production, which it has attained through the capitalist mode of production?
The need for a new approach to the question of Struggle, Movement and Organisation
What did we achieve from the 28 Feb 2012 strike? If nothing, then why not? How are we being deprived of even the minimum that we had? Are the tactics that we are adopting to regain them correct? What are the new means that need to be invented to attain our objectives? There is a growing need to give priority to a discussion on these questions.
Today, union leaders are formulating our demands and calling for strikes. When we formulate our own demands in a collective manner and take our own measures to attain them, then whether the strikes will be for one or two days or indefinite will not be decided beforehand. Then our struggle and movement will not be limited to slogan shouting at factory gates or street-corners. Then our struggle would generate a massive workers unity, long-term movements and revolutionary organisations. The beginning to ‘Take your own initiatives’ ‘be organised’ ‘implement on your own’ must be made at our own workplaces – we will have to start thinking of struggles and movements on the basis of our self-activities on the everyday questions.
False Unity, Real Unity
As long as we accept the present relationship between capital and labour, we will have to deal with the problems generated by their contradictions. More and more exploitation, attacks on workers to gain profits √ê all these are necessary for capital, they are its compulsions. Capitalist production process has itself arrived at its final stage. Worldwide depression, inflation, unemployment, outsourcing, contractualisation, increase in the amount of work, increase in the working hours, shutdown of the newer companies before they could attain their maximum capacity are all symptoms of a moribund capitalism. In order to save ourselves from destructive wars, to save environment, humanity and all other species it has become extremely necessary to remove this inhuman capitalist production system by establishing a collective production-distribution system or socialism that is based on associative collectivity of workers-producers √ê their control and management.
Present organisations and unions are associated with political parties who are entrenched within the capitalist parliamentary system. These organisations and unions do talk about workers but they are ever ready to establish secured positions for the leaders in the present society and within their own organisations – they reproduce the distance between leaders and general workers. The unity among today’s unions and organisations are enforced from above, and thus are unstable and illusory. On the other hand, struggles and movements initiated by workers themselves would generate workers organisations (factory committees, workers councils etc) promoting a true unity with a commitment towards revolutionary transformation. A strong, long-term unity is possible only on the initiatives of the workers themselves.
The need for a struggle based on the unity between permanent and temporary
The capitalist class in India has achieved two goals in the general interest of capital by implementing the new economic policy. By employing cheap contractual labour in place of permanent workers, they have, on the one hand, subsidised the production cost, and on the other, they have intensified intra-class competition and discrimination on the basis of permanent and temporary categories. Permanent workers look down upon temporary contract workers instead of recognising them as equals, thus fragmenting the workers unity. Hence, in order to intensify the struggle against their exploitation and oppression by capital through their own initiatives, establishment of a unity between permanent and temporary workers is extremely necessary. In this regard, permanent workers will have to take the initiative. In 2011-12, workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar led a heroic struggle on the basis of such unity between permanent and temporary workers and despite an intensive crackdown by the management, government and police on the workers after the July 18 incident the struggle is still on – on the basis of this unity.
Learning from the struggle of Maruti Suzuki workers, during the upcoming Feb 20-21 strike, let us build workers committees uniting workers across all segmentations and divisions – permanent-temporary, men-women etc. Let us build our struggle on our own initiatives on the principle of ‘Do not demand, but implement’, and continue it even after the strike! Only then we will be able to pressure the government and the capitalist class to concede. Only by a continuous struggle based on our own initiatives beyond any ritualistic confines can we make this two-day strike successful.
The quotes below are from Gurgaon lower-managers, their impressions from the general strike. Workers’ impressions will follow…
“Bandh gives bonding opportunities
The bandh was a relief from our hectic schedule. Since mine is a production company, whenever a strike is declared, my labourers are the first to participate. I’ve been living in Gurgaon for three years, but had never been to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, which is just 20km from my place. On Thursday, my colleagues and I took our bikes and went to the sanctuary, and spent the day there. Such bandhs give us the opportunity to enjoy together!” – Parth Sarthi, production manager, Maruti Suzuki, Manesar plant
“This bandh did what I couldn’t – give me a break. Main jab boss se poochta, he’d bring up some work. I almost let out a whoop of joy when we were called into the boss’ cabin to be told about this chhutti. Gurgaon doesn’t just have a work culture – it has a workaholic culture. But this was easy! And I stay in Delhi, I just work in Gurgaon. The first thing I did was call up my friends in Delhi and make them jealous. Then I sat back and watched TV.” – Vivek*, manager, software firm
“It is very funny, actually. Since many offices in Gurgaon have headquarters abroad, they get very scared about things like bandh and untoward incidents. The rest of Delhi did go to work, but we had a chhutti. It came as a last-minute circular the day before the bandh – that for their employees’ safety, they were closing the office. It was a surprise day off – I went shopping, and met a few friends.”
– Priya Phadnis, MNC employee
“I am not really punctual and reach late to work on most days. Ab kyunki Udyog Vihar mein office hai, you can always say traffic tha, late ho gaye. So on Thursday too, I was late and reached in during a meeting. I apologized to my manager, saying traffic mein phas gaya tha. Later, I got to know that many factories were shut because of the bandh and roads were almost clear with no traffic jams. It got really embarrassing.” -
Hemant Mehta, MNC employee
*** Towards a workers’ organisation, by GurgaonWorkersNews
French translation of the first part, published in GurgaonWorkersNews no.50, translated by Henri Simon
Vers une organisation ouvrière (1ère partie)
(Gurgaon Workers News, mai 2012)
Dans ce numéro et dans le suivant de Gurgaon Workers News, nous voulons débattre de la question d’une « organisation ouvrière » : comment les organismes ouvriers de base formés dans les luttes quotidiennes se relient aux coordinations »politiques » de travailleurs, dans une continuité avec la lutte contre les relations sociales existantes.
Ce débat doit être basé sur une analyse sérieuse :
a) du courant présent des expériences ouvrières de lutte et de la problématique et des tendances prometteuses qu’elles révèlent
b) de la relation entre une lutte particulière et les conditions générales du cycle capitaliste
c) de la composition changeante de la force de travail et du rapport entre les ouvriers et le présent procès social de production – comme base matérielle de l’auto organisation.
Cette première partie traite des thèses politiques générales concernant la question des organisations ouvrières et, en rapport avec cette question, nous présentons six rapports plus longs sur les luttes récentes dans les zones industrielles de Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad. La seconde partie mettra l’accent sur les développements sur Maruti Suzuki et ses réseaux d’approvisionnement en relation avec la recomposition de la collectivité ouvrière après la lutte de 2011. Avec cet arrière plan nous soulèverons les questions générales sur les relations entre les organisations ouvrières et l’enquête ouvrière. S’il vous plait, contribuez à ce débat
***Points cruciaux pour le débat sur l »organisation ouvrière :
Les approches d’une organisation ouvrière sont basées sur des hypothèses politiques, l’une d’elles étant que la distinction entre « luttes syndicales » et « lutte de parti », dans la lutte « économique » et « politique » est devenue un écueil.
***Une répétition inutile : la lutte à Harsoria Healthcare, Gurgaon : le 24 avril 2012, les travailleurs de Harsoria Healthcare, un fabricant de canules et de cathéters ont entame une grève sur le tas qui s’est terminée une fois de plus dans l’impasse d’une protestation légale toute symbolique.
***Le lockout du sous traitant Senior Flexonics, Manesar : les travailleurs de la multinationale Senior Flexonics à Manesar font enregistrer un syndicat et veulent le faire reconnaître dans l’usine. Ils sont lockoutés du début janvier à fin février 2012-06-11
***Emeutes à Gurgaon sur les sites d’Orient Craft et Larsen and Tubro Construction : le 19 mars les travailleurs de l’usine de confection Orient Craft se soulèvent après qu’un des travailleurs eut été attaqué par un cadre. Le 23 mars les travailleurs du bâtiment attaquent les locaux de la firme après le décès d’un des leurs dans un accident du travail.
***Lakhani Vardan Samuh à Faridabad : de décembre 2011 à avril 2012, les travailleurs de Lakhami mènent des lutes sous différentes formes concernant le retard dans le paiement des salaires, depuis des actions directes dans l’usine jusqu’à des grèves sauvages à des blocages de rues et des manifestations devant les bâtiments officiels.
*** Troubles à l’usine Theme Export Garment à Okhla : avec succès les travailleurs de la confection à Okhla mènent des actions le 16 avril pour retard dans le paiement des salaires , actions qui attirent des travailleurs des usines environnantes et des cités ouvrières alentour
*** Ce que révèle la lute potentielle à Globe Capacitor, Faridabad. En avril 2012 les travailleurs ont mené diverses actions collectives planifiées pour obtenir des augmentations de salaires qui ont contraint les employeurs à certaines concessions ; cette lutte a influencé les travailleurs des sous-traitants et ceux des usines du voisinage.
***Un appel pour que les travailleurs de Delhi soient impliqués dans le Faridabad Majdor Talmel : pour l’abolition du travail global, la lutte doit être plus qu’un travail d’information. Si vous vivez dans la zone de Delhi, vous être bienvenus de prendre part au Faridabad Majdoor Talmel, une coordination ouvrière. Nous avons distribué 10 000 tracts de Faridabad Majdoor Samachar pendant 10 jours chaque mois dans diverses zones industrielles autour de Delhi et essayé d’organiser des réunions locales de travailleurs.
*** Points essentiels du débat sur les coordinations ouvrières. : Nous présentons d’abord des considérations générales sur la question des organisations ouvrières. Nous examinerons ensuite les rapports sur les luttes présentes dans la zone industrielle de Delhi et formulerons les conclusions préliminaires concernant la question de l’organisation. Nous tracerons finalement les avances concrètes vers une organisation ouvrière dans les conditions présentes.
1) Sur les organisations ouvrières, considérations générales
2) Sur les lutes actuelles
3) Sur les tâches concrètes et les premiers pas.
1) Sur les organisations ouvrières, considérations générales
La proposition pour une organisation ouvrière est basée sur des hypothèses politiques – l’une d’entre elles étant que la distinction classique entre « lutte syndicale » et « lutte de parti », entre luttes « économique » et »politique » qui prévaut encore parmi nous st devenue un écueil. Cette perspective « parti/syndicat » autorise une participation « tactique » dans le travail « syndical » institutionnel en dépit des résultats problématiques évidents pour le développement d’un pouvoir ouvrier collectif. Les impasses évidentes du travail syndical « institutionnel » peuvent être justifiées comme un problème relevant des « premiers stades des luttes ouvrières » problème qui serait résolu par les partis politiques dans une seconde étape.
La perspective « syndicat/parti » nous permet aussi de laisser de côté une analyse plus profonde des conditions matérielles et des tendances internes des lutes ouvrières, analyse qui serait nécessaire pour expliquer les limitations habituelles de cette perspective. Au lieu de telles analyses, ces limitations sont « expliquées » en affirmant que les luttes ne sont « qu’économiques » et manquent « d’une conscience politique et d’une direction ». Ce sont des explications tautologiques qui visent à donner un crédit définitif à son propre « rôle et position extérieur à l’égard de la lutte ouvrière. Elles ne sont guère utiles en vue du développement d’un pouvoir ouvrier collectif en tant qu’appels généraux pour l’unité ouvrière. L’unité des travailleurs n’est pas une question de « cartel d’organisations » mais apparaît seulement dans la lutte de la nature contradictoire du procès de production capitaliste, qui en même temps assemble et divise les travailleurs. Les travailleurs doivent trouver les formes d’organisation qui matériellement mine le segmentation imposée par le procès de production – ils ne peuvent seulement agir et « généraliser de l’extérieur »
Les thèses qui suivent ne disent rien de nouveau, elles ne visent qu’à résumer une position générale avec en arrière plan le débat sur les luttes actuelles et les tâches futures – principalement avec des camarades et amis des organisations marxistes-léninistes, actives dans les zones industrielles régionales.
b) composition de classe et mouvement de classe
La forme de la production sociale détermine la forme de la lutte sociale et la vision d’une « alternative sociale ». Quoique cela soit généralement admis, la plupart de propositions politiques du genre « comment organiser » et la plupart des « programmes communistes »sont plutôt a-historiques ou reliées au siècle dernier. La production sociale capitaliste change rapidement, les centres régionaux, les secteurs industriels dominants et les « figures ouvrières » sont transformées avec chaque cycle. Dans ce processus, « la classe ouvrière » change, nous devons parler d’une composition de classe spécifique à chaque cycle spécifique. La « composition technique de classe » en tant que forme dominant historiquement le procès social de production contient le procès et le potentiel de la « composition politique de classe », la forme du mouvement de classe (1)
Par « composition technique » nous parlons de la forme présente historique de la manière dont les travailleurs coopèrent dans le procès de division du travail influencé et modelé par les différents niveaux de développement par les machines ; comment le procès de production immédiat se rattache au procès plus large de (re)production et les formes et niveaux de consommation ; comment les compétences formelles individuelles se rattachent aux compétences sociales plus étendues nécessaires pour accomplir le travail ; comment les différentes catégories et sections de travailleurs sont assemblées et sont segmentées ; comment les conflit de classe est dévié institutionnellement et culturellement.
Par « composition politique » nous parlons du processus par lequel la « classe ouvrière » et « l’unité ouvrière » se forme réellement dans les conditions matérielles et les expériences des luttes : la forme concrète de l’organisation de lutte que les travailleurs développent est basée sur la nature collective du procès de production capitaliste, dépassant sa nature segmentaire ; les revendications concrètes et une critique sociale plus large qui surgit des conditions concrètes et des « aspirations de productivité » – une relation historique spécifique entre le travail vivant et le travail mort, la forme de la manière dont les lutes particulières se rattachent les unes aux autres et deviennent un mouvement général à cause de la dimension sociale de la production et les conditions générales dans un cycle capitaliste ; comment cette généralisation tend à se produire dans les luttes dans les industries centrales qui peuvent exprimer un stade avancé du conflit entre le capital et les travailleurs ; basé sur cette relation entre les secteurs centraux et la société au sens large, des formes spéciales d’organisations « économiques et politiques » ( conseils, assemblées) du mouvement de classe sont formées et peuvent exprimer une « alternative sociale » spécifique, un communisme historique spécifique.
c) Composition de classe et périodisation
Bien que la périodisation historique présente un certain danger de devenir schématique, nous pouvons constater que, par exemple le cycle de transformation du travail agricole et de la petite paysannerie en travail industriel urbain correspond à la formation des « partis communistes » comme organisations de liaisons (2), l’étape plus récente du travail industriel qualifié donna naissance aux organisations ouvrières « conseillistes » et « syndicalistes révolutionnaires » et la période des industries « fordistes » à grande échelle qui étaient plus intégrées dans la société générales amenèrent les formes organisationnelles des » ouvriers masse » comme les assemblées générales et de plus larges coordinations politiques avec une « vision communiste » totalement différente de perspectives antérieures d’autogestion (3)
En ce sens, les « potentiels révolutionnaires » des lutes et des mouvements sont inscrits dans le présent procès de production sociale. Les activités « communistes » doivent se relier aux « fossés » entre les potentiels sociaux matériels donnés et les luttes concrètes présentes. _ last but not least en se référant aux expériences dans d’autres régions ou d’un passé récent. Le challenge, de toute évidence repose dans le fait que la « composition technique » est en mutation constante et qu’une relation dynamique existe entre la composition technique et la composition politique. L’écrasante rapidité et la dimension spatiale de ces mutations explique en partie le retrait gauchiste vers des « modèles fixes organisationnels », depuis les « partis » jusqu’au « syndicalisme ». Ce que nous avons à proposer à la classe ouvrière aujourd’hui n’est que le poids mort du temps passé.
d) composition de classe et capitaliste développement
Les formes de pouvoir collectif que les travailleurs développent basé sur leur position dans le procès de production est constamment miné par les tentatives du capital de « décomposer » : sous-traitance, démantèlement, introduction de nouvelles technologies et de nouvelles méthodes de production requérant de nouvelles qualifications, délocalisation dans d’autres régions du globe, introduction de nouvelles catégories de travailleurs avec différents statuts, etc.… Le caractère dynamique du capitalisme et du « développement » en général ne s’explique pas seulement par les « forces du marché » ou « un appétit abstrait pour les superprofits » que par cette relation dynamique entre la lutte et les changements dans la production qui y répondent. Le capitalisme endigue les conflits de classe par des bonds dans son développement. Cela implique que la « décomposition (la segmentation de la classe ouvrière dans le procès de production) est faite d’une manière qui la recompose à un niveau plus élevé de productivité sociale. Le capitalisme n’est pas simplement « isolant » les travailleurs en réponse à leurs « efforts unis », il les isole dans des formes spécifiques de socialisation.
c) Contradictions économico – politiques de la coopération productive
Le capital est contraint d’accumuler, moins à cause de sa « composition interne » mais pour être capable de répondre aux luttes ouvrières en élevant le niveau de consommation alors que dans le même temps il augmente leur exploitation. Dans le but de « décomposer » les places fortes ouvrières et de recomposer le travail social à un niveau plus élevé, le coût général des machines s’accroît. Cet usage accru des machines et de sa part croissante dans les coûts totaux de production exprime la manière dont le capital cherche à contenir la lutte de classe. En ceci, nous trouvons la contradiction « économique » et « politique » associée au procès de production. , sous les yeux mêmes des travailleurs et faisant partie de leur expérience : d’un point de vue « économique » une coopération étroite et pacifique entre travailleurs est nécessaire en vue d’accroître la productivité sociale. Dans des relations de classe données la « proximité » productive du producteur social constitue un « danger politique ».En dépit du fait que cela entrave la productivité sociale, ce dont chaque travailleur est bien conscient, le capital doit segmenter le procès de production « politiquement », que ce soit dans la division immédiate du travail, division entre le travail manuel et intellectuel,, entre secteurs, entre régions, entre différentes sphères de production et reproduction, entre régions développées et sous-développées, entre secteur public et secteur privé, et entre nations. C’est la sphère de la théorie communiste de comprendre et de révéler les « formes politiques systémiques » basées sur l’expérience directe des travailleurs.
La « segmentation politique » du procès de production sociale n’est pas seulement une question de contrôle et de domination sur la classe ouvrière. Elle est aussi une exigence politique pour le capital en vue d’obtenir sa principale légitimation sociale et « fétiche » ; d’être vu comme une pré condition de la production sociale. Le capital rassemble les travailleurs individuels dans le procès de production industriel qui ne peut être mis en mouvement sans que les travailleurs soient rassemblés. Le rassemblement se produit « sous le capital », la productivité sociale qui en résulte paraît être celle du capital. La classe ouvrière reste séparée à la fois du produit et des mayens de production à travers la nature « séparée » » du procès de production lui-même : la forme matérielle de la production (division du travail, technologie capitaliste) éloigne les travailleurs individuels de leur nature collective et par suite de leur produit. C’est la base des relations capitaliste de classe. Le fait que des millions de nouvelles connections dans la production globale soient établies seulement « dans le capital » est la principale colonne vertébrale de l’exploitation. Ce qui semble être une habile tactique de diviser pour régner – les divisions politiques dans la production – crée des milliers de hoquets dans le procès de production, des milliers de problèmes et de défauts de coordination. Que les choses fonctionne sans heurts en dépit de toutes les barrières ainsi imposées dépend largement des travailleurs (improvisation, créativité, dépassement des problèmes) qui, individuellement peuvent percevoir des problèmes comme des problèmes de « mauvaise gestion ». En cela, de nouveau, les organisations ouvrières doivent en révéler la nature systémique.
Ce « fétichisme du capital » (le capital comme pré condition de la production) ne peut être combattu qu’en révélant la dimension sociale et politique du procès de production, – en l’interrompant dans la lutte. Pour obtenir même les « victoires » les plus mineures et des gains économiques, les travailleurs de plus en plus sont contraints d’aller au-delà du niveau immédiat. Si le cours quotidien de la chaîne globale d’approvisionnement commence à faiblir parce que les travailleurs d’un des maillons interrompent le flot de la production, cela nous donne un espace pour créer des relations directes. Les activités communistes doivent se référer à « l’existence pratique » du « travailleur collectif », la totalité de la coopération nécessaire pour produire, la force vivante antagoniste dans la relation capitaliste de production. Le « travailleur collectif » est le point de référence nécessaire pour conquérir du pouvoir dans toute lutte pour des revendications immédiates et la base matérielle pour une transformation sociale radicale à une échelle mondiale. En ce sens, le « travailleur collectif » est un concept plus historique, matériel et dynamique pour analyser le procès entre les luttes particulières et le potentiel de changement que la notion de « classe en elle-même et pour elle-même » qui laisse un fossé dans la transformation, généralement rempli avec de vagues considérations sur la conscience de classe.
f) Généralisation et cycle du capital : boom et crise
Il n’y a eu que peu de débats historiques sur la relation entre lutte de classe, changement dans le système de production et grand cycles capitaliste en termes de « boom et crise » (4). Les débats ont évolué séparément sur cycles production et technologique d’une part et cycles « d’expansion » et financiarisation d’autre part. La question que les travailleurs doivent affronter boom ou crise, en partie exprimé dans les conditions sur le marché du travail, implique évidemment la question de savoir comment ils peuvent lutter, comment leurs luttes peuvent se généraliser et pose la question d’une alternative sociale. Les questions sur le système apparaissent principalement quand la classe ouvrière garde encore le pouvoir structurel et les aspirations d’une période « d’expansion », ce qui ouvre aussi un espace pour une large critique de « la forme aliénante et despotique » de l’expansion, mais doit faire face à une crise qui détruit les espoirs pour « un meilleur futur », en dépit des potentiels encore flagrants de la productivité sociale. La période entre 1968 et 1977 en est un exemple, on se trouve aujourd’hui devant une situation similaire mais à une échelle plus globale.
Avec la présente crise globale il devient de plus en plus difficile pour le capital de prétendre qu’il est une pré condition et coordinateur de la production : la coopération capitaliste sociale productive doit passer par les canaux fragiles des compagnies, des marchés, de l’argent. Dans les conditions de crise, la coopération de déchire, les petits maillons de la chaîne se brisent, des millions sont rejetés dans le chômage, des millions sont contraints de travailler jusqu’à épuisement total. « Les managers » sont supposés être responsables de la « coordination » dans la coopération de milliards d’êtres mais ils sont de plus en plus englués dans les « petits maillons de la chaîne » qu’elle soit sectorielle ou régionale. La seule réponse à la crise – renflouement accompagné de l’austérité- ne fait que l’aggraver.
Les gestionnaires du capital tentent de renforcer l’austérité à l’encontre des potentiels évidents pour l’abondance. Ils peuvent seulement y réussir pour autant qu’ils peuvent séparer l’expérience sociale de travail surproductif de la pauvreté du sous-emploi. Evidemment cette séparation ne prend pas la forme pure d’une « classe ouvrière employée » d’un côté et d’un « prolétariat appauvri » de l’autre. La séparation apparaît dans les différentes variantes du développement et du sous-développement, de l’emploi des hautes technologies et de l’intensification du travail, d’appauvrissements régionaux et de centres prospères, d’ouvriers respectables et de lumpen prolétariat, d’embauches et de licenciements. La séparation apparaîtra aussi avec toutes les colorations ethniques imaginables. Avec la disparition des anciennes classes remparts du système, avec la mort sociale de la paysannerie et des artisans dans le Sud global, la disparition de la classe moyenne petite bourgeoise de professionnels instruits indépendants, le capital ne peut que se reposer sur lui-même. Alors que par essence il est le coordinateur violent du travail social – globalisation, chaîne internationaux sous-traitants –dans cette crise, le capital doit plus que jamais à cacher et segmenter le caractère global et la coopération sociale d’une classe ouvrière globale émergente. Dans les tentatives de segmenter et de recombiner, le capital devient un fardeau pour la coopération sociale. Il l’a à sa façon. Il s’ensuit que le challenge pour les communistes ouvriers est de souligner la « séparation politique » du développement (productivité sociale) et sous-développement (pauvreté), le potentiel de l’abondance en regard de la misère noire. Dans ce but, nous devrons reconsidérer les veilles conceptions utilisées pour décrire les relations entre le centre et la périphérie, c’est-à-dire les concepts « d’impérialisme », de Tiers-monde, etc…qui paraissent émoussés pour analyser l’émergente composition globale de classe.
g) La question syndicale
Avec comme arrière plan du processus de « décomposition et recomposition de casse », nous pouvons aisément voir que le problème avec la lute syndicale n’est pas simplement celui de sa « forme bureaucratique antidémocratique » ou des limites des « revendications économiques ». Le cadre formel et légal de l’organisation syndicale n’autorise pas les travailleurs à s’organiser aux mêmes niveaux et portées car le capital tente à la fois de composer avec eux et de les désorganiser. Alors que les compagnies modernes rassemblent les travailleurs au-delà des limites de catégories, compagnies, secteurs, frontières nationales, les syndicats ne peuvent ni refléter la portée ni la rapidité des changements. De plus, ils doivent s conformer aux formes de lutte légalement prescrites lesquelles, par définition doivent contraindre les travailleurs à rester sur le terrain de jeux de l’Etat et du capital. Il ne devrait pas y avoir beaucoup de désaccord entre les communistes sur ces questions.
Les désaccords concernent plutôt la question des la relation entre lutte « économique » et lutte « politique », entre « lutte syndicale » et « organisation politique ou parti » (5) Sans entrer dans des détails on doit constater que la position qui perçoit la lutte « politique » et la lutte « économique » de la classe ouvrière comme deux étapes distinctes – dons le « parti » comme une sorte de complément politique des syndicats – tire son origine d’un stade historique spécifique dans le développement des relations capitaliste : un stade antérieur. La conception léniniste traditionnelle est basée sur les conditions sociales alors que la production industrielle et la classe ouvrière étaient encore marginales, alors que l’Etat n’était pas essentiellement impliqué dans les relations industrielles, alors qu’il existait encore un fossé important entre l’usine et une large reproduction sociale ( école, sciences), alors que le procès de reproduction immédiat pouvait être vu comme relevant principalement de la sphère économique avec peu de connexion avec le reste de la société et des la « politique »
Depuis Lénine, avec le développement d’un « Etat planifie » ( industrie d’Etat, intervention directe dans la planification industrielle et les relations de travail, etc..) comme l’extension de la planification de l’usine à la société, avec l’extension des formes industrielles « scientifiques » de la production dans toutes les sphères de la vie sociale et avec la classe ouvrière devenant la majorité sociale, la question de ce qui est « économique » dans le procès social d e production et ce qui est « politique » a évidemment changé. Avec ces changements le rôle institutionnel des syndicats s’est transformé radicalement. D’une « école »pour les travailleurs dans semblant de processus graduel vers une « conscience politique », ils ont été réduits à des institutions qui – confrontés à la vaste extension du procès social de production – sont légalement et formellement confinés dans une sphère sociale très étroite. Leur principale influence est basée sur la nécessité pour le capital de contrôler le développement salaire-productivité. Dans ces conditions, maintenir la notion classique d’une distinction plutôt schématique entre lutes économiques et politiques ne peut avoir que des résultats négatifs.
h) des luttes ouvrières à la transformation sociale
Le modèle en deux étapes de « formations syndicales » et « parti politique » fait qu’il rend impossible la découverte des « contradictions révolutionnaires » dans la coopération sociale productive. Il disperse plutôt qu’il élève vers un niveau élevé de conscience : limités dans le cadre syndical, les travailleurs ne seront pas capables de généraliser leurs luttes selon les tendances de leurs relations déjà existantes dans la production et « la globalisation politique » par l’intermédiaire du parti, dans la plupart des cas sera détachée de la production social, orientée vers la « sphère politique » (campagnes, mobilisations, etc.)
La généralisation dont la production sociale elle-même est la principale pré condition matériellement, mine la segmentation et le « fétichisme du capital »’ le capital comme organisateur de la société). C’est la « lutte économique »à travers laquelle les travailleurs ont à découvrir la véritable nature de la production capitaliste – le contenu de classe de la science, de la technologie, des institutions. Le processus de masse de la découverte ne peut être contourné, la généralisation ne peut être court-circuitée par les différents canaux que la politique bourgeoise peut offrit, du syndicalisme au parlementarisme, des politiques identitaires au régionalisme ou au nationalisme.
Le mouvement de classe devra développer une organisation selon les orientations des connexions globales productives et changer matériellement ces connexions : dans ses stages intensifs, la lutte de classe aura simultanément à créer les (pré)conditions pour la « production du communisme ». Les luttes ouvrières non seulement « attaquerons le capital et l’Etat » mais entraîneront le retrait du travail social – les grèves interrompront la reproduction sociale pour un degré existentiel et par suite contraindront le mouvement de classe à réorganiser la production et la circulation tout en combattant. A ce stage, de la lutte de classe, nous devrons pouvoir découvrir non seulement collent le travail social est globalement intégré, mais aussi que la plus grande partie du travail social sous le capitalisme est superflu – personne ne se plaindra sur l’absence d’un travail de recherche pour le marché ou les sous-traitants de Tata Nanos. Une masse énorme d’énergie et de créativité humaine sera libérée. En même temps, me mouvement de classe devra affronter la question : comment réorganiser la production sous une forme qui non seulement garantira réellement la subsistance mais aussi étendra « l’auto organisation de la lutte » en auto organisation de la production sociale, l’abolition de la division hiérarchique du travail et du développement inégal. La révolution n’est pas seulement un acte de « destruction/prise du pouvoir » mais de révolutionner les relations sociales, de se débarrasser de la contradiction entre l’individuel et le social en transformant matériellement la manière dont nous (re)produisons notre existence sociale. En ce sens, il est seulement logique que la perspective « syndicat/parti » sépare la « révolution » de la « production du communisme » et voit le communisme plutôt comme une « politique » qui peut être introduite.
La conception léniniste de la lute du « syndicat » et du parti était basée sur une société moins développée industrielle/agricole. L’expression pratique de cette notion s’est révélée quand le nouvel Etat (bolchevique) démantela les soviets, les organisations économico politique ouvrières, dans les premières années qui suivirent la Révolution Russe (6). La « Nouvelle Politique économique » (industrialisation fordiste avec des incitations du marché) requit à ce moment d’imposer « un régime strict centralisé dans les usines et dans la société ». On peut discuter sur la « nécessité historique » de cette politique, c’est-à-dire de la nécessité historique d’apaiser la classe moyenne paysanne émergente ou de maintenir une armée sur pied de guerre, le fait est qu’en vue d’imposer ce régime, le nouvel Etat contraignit les travailleurs à abandonner leur pouvoir économico politique que représentait le pouvoir des soviets. Le nouvel Etat réintroduisit une séparation : les travailleurs étaient supposés se tourner vers les « syndicats » pour leurs « besoins économiques » et vers le « parti » pour la direction politique. De cette façon, le pouvoir collectif productif des travailleurs était sapé et la force menant la révolution éliminée.
i) Les tâches et la continuité d’une organisation ouvrière.
Avec tout ceci en arrière-plan, nous estimons qu’il y a une continuité entre les organisations « économico – politique » d’aujourd’hui depuis les plus petit niveau de la base dans les zones industrielles – et ce futur des organisations » économico – politique » dans une révolution communiste. (7) Dans une société capitaliste moderne il ne peut pas y avoir de fossé conceptuel organisationnel entre les formes embryonnaires et développées. Les organisations ouvrières doivent trouver les réponses pratiques collectives à travers les luttes ouvrières quotidiennes d’une manière qui laisse qui garde toujours ouverte la possibilité d’une expansion et d’une généralisation – vers les « travailleur collectif ». Les pas vers une coordination collective doivent être capable de « donner quelque ouverture » aux travailleurs ici et maintenant en les aidant à gagner des « victoires » concrètes , en se référant en même temps organisationnellement et conceptuellement à la nécessité de la révolution sociale.. Ils doivent utiliser la petite dimension de « l’anticipation » (la question de quelles formes de lutte et de revendication peut à catalyser et à généraliser les luttes dans un temps et un espace concrets) basée sur la connaissance des luttes en cours et de leur position dans l’ensemble de la production sociale. Ces organisations doivent utiliser la dimension globale des luttes en cours et construire des liens internationaux qui survivent au flux et reflux des luttes particulières et peuvent conduire à une véritable perspective globale et une pratique organisée. Les organisations ouvrières en ce sens ne sont pas les « organisations avec lesquelles la classe ouvrière lutte », elles sont plutôt les organisations qui soutiennent les tendances à l’auto organisation et à l’émancipation dans les luttes comme elles surviennent.
Dans les pages suivantes, nous tenterons aux questions soulevées ci-dessus quant aux luttes régionales en cours et nous formulerons alors des « propositions concrètes » sur les avancées vers une organisation ouvrière.
1) Pour un débat historique sur ces concepts voir :
2)Loren Goldner discute cette thèse concernant la relation générale entre développement capitaliste et révolution agraire
3) Deux textes essentiels sur le changement dans la composition de classe et les formes changeantes du « mouvement communiste
4) une des quelques tentatives entre prise dans « Forces of Labor » par Beverly Silver
5) Texte essentiel du Mouvement Communiste sur la « question syndicale »
6) Sur la relation entre l’Etat « bolchevik » et les soviets ouvriers
7) L’expérience des coordinations ouvrières en Italie dans les années 60-70 illustre le caractère « économico-politique” et la cohésion entre la lutte directe et l’organisation révolutionnaire