Gurgaon

GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 57 – May/June 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:
gurgaon_workers_news@yahoo.co.uk

In the May/June 2013 issue you can find:

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

*** Workers’ Report on Unrest in Okhla during February ’13 General Strike -
In Okhla the general strike started as the usual symbolic show, but by mid-day workers left the factories and amused themselves violently by attacking factories and bosses’ cars.

*** Workers’ Riot and Shooting in Noida in April ’13 -
A few weeks after the general strike construction workers rioted in NOIDA after being shot at by company security guards.

*** Story of Mutual Aid after Workers’ Accident in Gurgaon -
After a road accident on the way to work a female garment worker is helped by other workers. In the hospital they have to confront the middle-men business, which involves doctors and cops.

*** Reports on Struggles and their Impasses in Gurgaon, Okhla, Noida, Manesar and Faridabad -

Reports of workers employed at Bindra Export, Orchid Overseas, Senior Flexonics, Era Electronics, Saket Fabs, Usha Amorphous Metals, Eastern Medikit, Asian Hospital

2) Theory and Practice -
Contributions for the Movement

The global and historical character of the current crisis forces us to coordinate both debate and practice ‘for workers self-emancipation’ on an international scale. Following texts are selective, but we think that they can stand as examples for ‘general theses’, ‘concrete analysis’ and ‘historical debate’ of class struggle and revolutionary movement.

*** A glimpse of the society that ‘rapes’ -
A text by a (female) comrade about the Delhi rape and its wider social background.

*** On workers’ violence: Lonmin, Maruti Suzuki, Foxconn 2012 -
A text by Mouvement Communiste on the question of workers’ violence, debating the examples of struggles in 2012 at Lonmin in South Africa, Maruti Suzuki in India and Foxconn in China. LTMC1336ENvF

*** Important material on the question of class struggle in China -
On the website of the Gongchao collective you can find various important articles analysing the current stage of class confrontation in China.

http://www.gongchao.org/en/frontpage

*** Commentary No. 351 by Wallerstein: “End of the Road for Runaway Factories?” -
Wallerstein briefly describes the structural limits to ‘global re-location’ of production as we have witnessed it during the last four decades and as it has first undermined the strong-holds of workers in the global North and created at the same time the material foundation for a global cycle of struggles.

*** Angry Workers of the World: Issue #1 -
New workers’ bulletin from London, around 2,000 copies for free circulation on working class housing estates, in warehouse districts and commuter hubs.
http://www.angryworkersworld.wordpress.com

*** Delhi’s Calling: Take Part in Faridabad Majdoor Talmel and read current issues of FMS in Hindi-
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: http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/p/fms-talmel.html

For current issues (May 2013) of the newspaper in Hindi see:

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/more-in-hindi.html?m=1

—–

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

-*** Workers’ Report on Unrest in Okhla during February ’13 General Strike

(translated from: Faridabad Majdoor Samachar no.297)

There are about 4,000 factories in Okhla industrial area, employing around 500,000 workers.

20th of February

* On the 20th of February at 8 am union guys tried to stop workers from going to work, but workers did not stop. Instead of trying to pass those roads which had been blocked by the unions, the workers took other roads in order to get to the factory. The situation remained fairly normal, between 95 and 98 per cent of workers went to work. At night a similar scene: those workers who went to night shift at 9 am met a crowd at Tekhand Road corner, who shouted slogans and which tried to stop workers from going to work, but workers went to work. Before I went to bed I watched the pictures of the unrest in NOIDA phase II on the television of a friend, at around 11:30 pm. On the 20th union guys tried to stop workers in Badarpur, Tekhand, Indra Camp, Tuglakabad, Govindpuri, but most workers arrived at the factories in one way or the other. The factories in Okhla phase I F–block all ran, most printing-presses in Okhla ran. But after lunch break workers in one factory refused to go back to work. When the manager asked we said that today is all India strike. The manager left and went to the managing director to tell him. At around 4 pm the big boss arrived in his car, he had driven around in his car for an hour and had seen that all other factories were working. On the 20th of February five of us workers strated to take a stroll in the area. The garment factories Boutique International, Orient Craft, Shahi Export, Orient Fashion, Ditel and workers at Vodaphone and all printing presses were working. People worked till nine o’clock at night. The night-shift workers arrived. In Phase I, management at Maya and at five plants of SMS in Phase II told workers to go home at 11 pm, production stopped.
* On the 20th of February AITUC, CITU, BMS, AKTU, ACTU, Majdoor Ekta Committee and others, all of us unionists where together from 8 am onwards. We shouted slogans and explained what the strike was about.When we started a demonstration in phase II at 11 am we were first 150, then 250 people. In phase I may be 80 or 90 people took part. During the time of the demonstration around 60 to 70 workers left one of the factories. Then we all had an assembly, we were about 150 people. All union leaders held a speech. At 1:30 pm the assembly was finished.
– In Faridabad one union leader told another union leader from Okhla that on 20th of February 90 per cent of the factories in Phase II were shut down, that ‘we had them shut down’. A different union leader said that in Phase I ‘our union was the majority, we shut things down’.

21st of February

* On the 21st of February at Harkesh Nagar, Tekhand Road the union guys were around and they put pressure on people to stop, but workers went to work like the day before. Some police stood around silent. From Sangam Vihar, Govindpuri etc. most workers arrived at the factories. Saying that ‘today is strike’ a few workers of a factory walked out at 10 am. They shouted slogans. From a neighbouring factory 40 to 50 workers came out. From two lines of factories around 1,200 workers came out. Management started to be afraid, so around 10:30 to 11 am management in 24 surrounding factories announced holiday for the workers. In phase I, II and III workers started to walk out and by 10:30 am the whole of Okhla industrial area stuttered into a standstill. Many workers went home, many workers kept on standing in front of the factories, many joint the demonstrations. The union guys arrived in Phase II with two trucks and a three-wheeler with a microphone from Harkesh Nagar side. The guys who shouted slogans were in the cars and the union leaders behind the cars. Workers were walking behind them all. It grew to a demonstration of 8,000 to 10,000 people. Police retreated behind the police station when we passed. Then in phase I, after an attack with lathis (long sticks) the police retreated. In the whole area factories got pelted with stones.
* No idea, why they were throwing stones, why they broke windows, smashed cars. Workers did not seem to be angry, they were laughing.
* There was no major tension when things got broken. They were happy when they broke things. The flag-carrying women stayed aside with the union leaders. The women workers who came out of the factories first threw more stones then the male workers and then went home to their rooms.
* An expensive Audi car got smashed. Suzuki Swift cars got smashed and filled up with stones and rubbish
* The fourth and fifth class kids coming out of the public school threw a lot of stones at the factories.
* I had arrived from night-shift when all this happened, so after 11 am I went to sleep. In the evening I saw that the windows of four factories behind the power station in phase II had smashed in windows. All workers were happy about it, they said it was great and that they should be burnt down.
* People started talking about seven arrested workers. We know one of these workers. We start talking that if they put him in jail, we will collect money between us to get him out. But in the end he has not been arrested. He is outside and no case has been filed against him. He is back at work.

* 22nd of February

When we distribute the newspaper at Okhla railway crossing near Sarita Vihar the faces of most workers are shining. Workers seem hopeful and excited. thousands of workers are smiling.

/// Comment of a ‘publicised academic': “One can understand if workers get violent out of anger. If you give concessions, this violence can be kept under control. But the workers in NOIDA and Okhla did not portray any anger. They seemed to enjoy the violence. This is a very troublesome issue.”

In the factories in Faridabad the general strike of the 20th and 21st of February remained a symbolic activity, production ran in most factories. The buses of Haryana Roadways ceased to run. Neither did the Utter Pradesh Roadways buses or Rajasthan buses. Some buses of the DtC ran between Faridabad and Delhi. The Faridabad municipal workers went on strike and other Haryana public sector workers expressed their discontent in various places. Only 500 to 700 people took part in the joint demonstration of all unions on 21st of February from Ballabhgarh bus station to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. On the 20th in DLF Industrial Area Faridabad 40 people took aprt in the union procession, in Sector 6 they were only a handful people…

In Gurgaon all bank and insurances offices were closed on 20th and 21st of February 2013. Some protests by Haryana public sector workers and the buses of Haryana Roadways stood still. Production in the factories in Udyog Vihar, along the NH8 highway and in Manesar ran as normal. There was a direct impact of the unrest in NOIDA on the 20th of February on the situation in Gurgaon. Maruti Suzuki, Honda HMSI, Endurance, Satyam Auto, Hero, all these big companies declared holiday on the 21st of February. The company management was afraid. In Manesar management of smaller factories told the security guards when they came to work that the ‘strikers will come today’. A worker: “Managers gave workers the order to stop all machines and to make sure that no noise gets to the outside. We stopped the machines. Shortly after the manager arrived and asked why we haven’t turned of the machines, why there was so much noise around. We told him that the machines are stopped and that the noise comes from the neighbouring plant. After the lunch break all workers were told to leave the factory. On 21st of February, the situation in IMT Manesar industrial area seemed normal, at least outside the factories.

*** Workers’ Riot and Shooting in Noida in April ’13 -

(based on media articles and report by Bigul Mazdoor Dasta)

In late 2008 we wrote about a farmers protest in NOIDA: “On 13th of August 2008 on a protest march in NOIDA, another satellite town of Delhi, several farmers were shot dead by the police and dozens got injured. The farmers demanded higher compensation for the land which they had sold to a public development authority some years ago. The necessity to quell the protest derives less from the violence used by the farmers – they tried to storm a government building and allegedly started to throw stones at the police – than from the danger that the protest might trigger a whole chain of similar unrests. In Gurgaon there have been various farmers’ protests during the last months. In recent years hundreds of acres of farm land in Gurgaon and NOIDA have been bought to feed the real estate boom”

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no913/#fn7

Five years later the real estate business is still bloody. On 28th of April 2013 security guards of the office of 3C Lotus Panache Construction Company in NOIDA started shooting at building workers, who started throwing stones and allegedly set two cars on fire. One worker was injured in the firing. According to the press a group of labourers had an altercation with the management over their daily wages.
“At the beginning of the morning shift at around 8 a.m., the workers had reached the construction site to join the construction work of the multi-story apartment complex, but they had to stand in a big queue because the security guards at the gate were taking long time in intensively checking each worker and making an entry. When some workers protested against this lax attitude of the guards and when they said that they had to listen to the supervisor’s abuses if they are late even by one minute, a heated exchange took place between the security guards and workers and suddenly the guards started firing indiscriminately over the workers. As per the media reports, two workers were injured, but when a team of Bigul Mazdoor Data visited the workers settlement adjacent to the construction site, some workers said that the number of the injured workers could be four which includes a child as well and one of the workers is seriously injured and his life is in danger. As per the records of the district hospital in Noida, only one worker was admitted on April 28. Other workers were admitted to some private hospital.

On probing further, the workers revealed that the security guards and supervisors used to routinely interact with the workers in abusive manner. Some workers said that the contractor did not give payment to the workers for last 3 months. The workers also told that the average daily wage of an unskilled construction worker was Rs. 140-150 whereas that of the skilled worker was around Rs 250. When the representatives of the Bigul Mazdoor Dasta told them that it was even below the minimum wages fixed by the government (which itself is ridiculously low), the workers said that whenever they demanded to increase the wages, the contractor had this to say that there are enough number of people ready to work on this wage and if they have to work on this wage then carry on or else they can leave.

The workers said that despite being present in the close vicinity, the police did not come when the guards were opening fire. After some time, huge police force and PAC battalions reached the spot to control the angry workers and they protected the guards from the fury of the angered workers. The workers said that the police released the guards as some of them were seen roaming freely the next day morning. The workers’ colony was on the other hand was encircled with huge police force from all sides. It is quite clear that the police machinery is hand in glove with the management of the construction company to hold the workers reponsible for this incident.”

http://sanhati.com/articles/6696/

A similar incident took place amongst building workers in Gurgaon in March 2012:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-950/#fn3

*** Story of Mutual Aid after Workers’ Accident in Gurgaon -

(translated from: Faridabad Majdoor Samachar)

On 9th of July 2012 Kusum went to work at Krishna Label, situated on Plot 162, Udyog Vihar Phase I, Gurgaon. At 8:45 am, close to Pir Baba, a tractor with two water tanks attached hit Kusum. Kusum’s right leg got crushed. Krishna, who worked at Gaurav International (Plot 208, Udyog Vihar Phase I) helped Kusum to get up. Krishna didn’t know Kusum, they are both strangers to each other. Raja, who was on his way to work at Orchid factory (Plot 189, Udyog Vihar Phase I), stopped to help them. Krishna and Raja did not go to work, they did not think about their days wage, but they brought Kusum to the public hospital in Gurgaon. Kusum’s brother, who worked in the same factory as she, had also arrived at the hospital. After first aid the doctors transfer Kusum to the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi. Krishna, Raja and Kusum’s brother went with her to Delhi.They arrived there before noon, but they had to run from place to place, asking for this or that document and in the end Kusum was not admitted to the hospital. After having paid 7,000 Rs to a middle-man, Kusum was admitted at 10:30 pm and brought to the operation theatre. They screwed her leg together and fixated it. They gave her a bed. Krishna stayed the whole day with Kusum at Safdarjung hospital. Raja stayed the night. In order to help Kusum and her brother, Raja went back and forth between Safdarjung and Kapashera during the following three days. On 12th of July the panel of doctors came and announced that it was necessary to give Kusum a blood transfer. They tried to find donors… one of the doctors gave Kusum’s bed-number, the ward number and her brother’s phone number to a middle-man. The doctor put pressure: we need five units of blood as soon as possible. The middle-man asked for 3,000 Rs per unit – he was given 6,000 Rs for two units. Kusum and her brother live together with her older mother in Kapashera. On the plot where they live there are 145 rooms, homes of workers from various factories. All neighbours-workers gave some contribution, together they raised 4,000 Rs. The police put into their accident report that Kusum had ‘general injuries’. They wrote that she had been sent to hospital for bandages. They did not write that she had been referred to Safdarjung. Both tankers and the tractor were taken to the police station, but one tanker was allowed to be removed from the station and the report states that only one tanker was attached to the tractor. Haryana police also arrived at Safdarjung hospital and asked Kusum to sign a document. On the day of the blood transfer Kusum’s friends contacted the owner of the tractor-tanker. They met at the police station and asked the owner for financial support. The owner said that in order to remove one of the tankers from the police station he had to pay 20,000 Rs and a case had been filed against him, he had been released on bail – therefore he was not able to give financial support. A police officers came out of the station and said: ‘Don’t give them money’. On 31st of July Kusum was still in Safdarjung hospital.

*** Reports on Struggles and their Impasses in Gurgaon, Okhla, Noida, Manesar and Faridabad -

Bindra Export, Orchid Overseas, Senior Flexonics, Era Electronics, Saket Fabs, Usha Amorphous Metals, Eastern Medikit, Asian Hospital

Bindra Export Worker
(B-89, Okhla Phase I)
The factory runs on two 12 hours shifts. The operators of the computerised embroidery machines are paid 6,700 Rs a months for 26 days of 12 hours-shifts. The helpers are paid 4,500 Rs for 30 days of 12 hours shifts. The female workers also work twelve hours wage work a day. There are 50 workers employed in the factory. None of the workers get provident fund. May be two or three of the workers get ESI medical insurance card, those who are made to work like domestic servants. One of the helpers broke his leg in the factory – he was given only 700 Rs for medical treatment. The drinking water is shit – eight of the workers caught polio, but management did nothing in order to improve the water quality. Workers collect money amongst themselves and go and buy water. The toilets are very dirty and there is not even a light bulb on the toilet. The managing director swears at people.

Orchid Overseas Worker
(60-61 D, Udyog Vihar Phase V, Gurgaon)
Out of the 200 workers employed in the factory only four male and four female workers get ESI and PF. There are no contractors, all workers are hired by the company directly. Thirty female workers are called to work at 6 am in the morning and released from work at 9:30 pm. For the 15 1/2 hours shift the company does not give extra-money for buying food, nor do they provide a single cup of tea. Even on Sundays people work from 6 am till 9:30 pm. Over-time is paid at single rate. The supervisors swear at the female workers a lot. The tailors are paid on piece rate and the helpers don’t get the minimum wage – they are paid 4,000 Rs. The company manufactures garments for, amongst others Speed and Next.

http://www.next.co.uk/

Senior Flexonics Worker
(Plot 89, Sector 8, IMT Manesar)
Management again did like it is pleased. With the help of the police management kicked us out of the factory shortly after midnight on the 19th of May 2012. Following the advice of the union we started a sit-in protest in front of the factory and then had a demonstration in front of the office of the labour department. We wait for negotiation dates from the labour department. Management and union came to an agreement on 7th of July. All senior workers who had been hired through contractors or who had been on casual contracts were kept outside of the factory. Of the permanent workers four had been suspended already, now eight more workers are on suspension. So 12 suspended permanent workers are also outside, as long as the inquiry is not finished, and 39 permanent workers re-started work on 9th of July. We feel very ashamed. In January 2012 around 300 of us started the protest, and now 30 of us are left. Previous article on Senior Flexonics:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-956/#fn5

Era Electronics Worker
(Sector 55, Noida)
The company office is in Noida, but apart from Noida Era Electronics has units in Kanpur, Delhi, Gova, Ratlam, Nasik, Jalandhar. The company pays the newly hired helpers 3,500 Rs , the more senior helpers get 4,000 Rs and the electricians get between 4,800 and 7,500 Rs. None of the workers is given ESI or PF. In Surajpur, Yamaha management has given the order that no workers without ESI or PF are allowed inside the factory, but Era Electronics keep on sending workers to work there without these ‘legally’ obligatory insurances. At Yamaha, Era Electronics has the contract for electrical maintenance, workers work every day from 9 am till 8 pm. At Yamaha production stops on Saturdays and Sundays, but the workers of Era Electronics work every week-day – on Saturdays from 9 am till 10 or 11 pm, on Sundays from 9 am till 5 pm. Often you have to work during the night, then you work through the night till 4 am and then again on normal shift from 9 am onwards. At Yamaha it is impossible to switch of electricity for maintenance, you have to work with life wires, which is dangerous. For workers’ accommodation Era Electronics has hired four rooms in Mubarakpur. Nearby there are construction sites for the Akrati Hotel, the Banquet Hall and for a call centre. Era Electronics supposedly has the contract to do the electrical work for these buildings, from transformers to light switches. We have to work up to the 13th floor – no helmets, no safety belts. One worker worked on a scaffolding, started to feel dizzy and fell, breaking his leg.

Saket Fabs Worker
(from the company website)
Saket Fabs (P) Ltd is a Press Metal Company which has created a distinct identity with its fabrication and sheet metal products. The company manufactures presses ranging from 20 tonnes to 600 tonnes. Manufacturing facility spread over an area of 8000 sq. yards is equipped with all the state-of-the-art facilities. Over the years, the company has developed an impressive clientele. Some prestigious names like Hero Honda, Swaraj Majda, Yamaha, BPL are enjoying the benefits of Bony Polymers products. This company is also approved by RDSO (Ministry of Railway).

http://www.bonypolymers.com/group.html

(Plot 286, Sector 58, Faridabad)
There has been conflict between permanent workers and management and on 14th of June 2012 the company suspended 18 workers. A union representative arrived. With the demand to take back the suspended 18 workers, 80 to 85 permanent workers walked out the factory. They complained at the labour department, they waited for an appointment with the labour department. The company had previously started to hire workers through contractors, after the 24th of June their number increased to 150 workers. There is no canteen inside the factory – management now hired a cook and offered free food to the workers who remained inside the factory 24 hours a day, working on two 12 hours shifts. In the factory there are 26 or 27 power presses, we manufacture parts for Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India and for Maruti Suzuki. The workers hired through contractors often cut fingers and hands at these presses. Between the 24th of June and 8th of July – the time when the permanent workers remained outside the factory – four workers cut their hands. One worker cut off four fingers, two cut two and the other worker lost one finger. Management sent them to private hospitals in order not to have to fill in accident reports. The trade union came and left again. Five permanent workers were dismissed. On 23rd of July the labour department told workers to go back to work and to leave the five suspended workers outside. The company got rid of the cook on 23rd of July and started to kick out the workers hired through contractors – by 2nd of August they had kicked out 35 of them. Once back at work the permanent workers started to undertake steps in order to get the five suspended workers back inside. The workers did not shout any slogans at the gate. The workers increased the three daily tea breaks of 10 minutes each to breaks of 30 minutes each. Supervisors and managers walked around on the shop-floor, but they kept stumm – the riot at Maruti Suzuki Manesar on the 18th of July 2012 had frightened them a lot. If the worker before you remains idle, you have to remain idle, as well – this is how chain-system production works. The permanent workers told the workers hired through contractors that they should just follow their example and work like they did (or rather, who they didn’t). Production was stopped, sometimes at that machine, sometimes at another. After the permanent workers went back inside the factory the number of workers had increased, but production levels had come down.

Usha Amorphous Metals Worker
(486-87, Udyog Vihar Phase III, Gurgaon)
The company Usha Amorphous Metals Ltd. is an interesting example for the close connection between so-called ‘green’ and ‘nano-technology’ and the large scale industries (automobile, aerospace, military-complex). The company history also shows the formation process of ‘global corporations’. Behind the formal display of joint-ventures (in Usha’s case with Honeywell, US; Siemens, Germany; Hitachi, Japan) and ‘capital and technology transfer’ we can see how these corporations grew as part of the state regimes and their ‘opening of markets’.

http://uaml.in/contact-us/

On 12th of March 2011 around 35 permanent workers registered a trade union. On 22nd of March 2011 they handed over a demand notice to management. Workers then had to run back-and-forth to various meetings at the labour department. This went on for eleven months, on 21st of February 2012 management kicked out 23 permanent workers from the factory and the remaining permanent workers, following the advice of the union, went out in support. There is no space to sit outside the gate of the factory, but nevertheless all permanent workers started their sit-in protest on 21st of February 2012 and they were still outside when the report was written, on 27th of July 2012. The company started to higher workers through contractors from 21st of february onwards. Production was running inside the factory, when the union complained and an inspector came to the factory, the company management said that there is no one inside the plant. Now things move back and forth between the labour officials of the labour department to those of the deputy labour commissioner. Previous article on Usha Metals:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-947/#fn3

Eastern Medikit Worker
In the five factories of the company the situation at the beginning of August 2012 is still the same like when trouble had started on 18th of May. The 1,200 permanent workers guard the factories 24 hours a day and management is still ‘disappeared’. We don’t see any difference between management and union. Asking for dates with the labour department, handing over announcements to the deputy commissioner, and to the labour minister, calling union leaders to give speeches, walking miles on one demonstration in three month. Everyone sees the problem in the fact that the factories are not running, but we go about it in the old ways of protest. There are thousands of factories in Udyog Vihar and in the neighbouring areas, with hundreds of thousands of workers, who we could address, but we don’t. Amongst us permanent workers, too, many are ashamed of addressing other workers. Previous article on Eastern Medikit:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-956/#fn4

Asian Hospital Worker
On 7th of May 2012 around 330 nurses in Faridabad’s Asian Institute of Medical Science and 130 nurses in the central hospital went on strike. In the central hospital the strike lasted for a month. In the Asian hospital, an agreement was announced on 3rd of July 2012 after the chief minister of Kerala (the state of origin of most nurses) has given his signature. The agreement, forged in presence of the chief minister, stipulated that the five suspended nurses will be taken back on after 15 days. These five have not been taken back and now they have to quit the job. Some other nurses have also been kicked out after they had returned to work.
Previous article on Asian Hospital:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-956/#fn6

2) Theory and Practice -
Contributions for the Movement

The global and historical character of the current crisis forces us to coordinate both debate and practice ‘for workers self-emancipation’ on an international scale. Following texts are selective, but we think that they can stand as examples for ‘general theses’, ‘concrete analysis’ and ‘historical debate’ of class struggle and revolutionary movement.

*** A glimpse of the society that ‘rapes’

The word ‘rape’ comes from the French verb ‘raper’ which means to steal .While sexual assault is a big act of aggression on the women’s body and mind, this word does not connote the violent attack on her rights regarding her sexuality, but, rather gives importance to the honour being stolen away from her. And here too it is not her honour that the society is concerned about but that of her man, her family.
(Anuradha Ghandy, Changes in Rape Law: How far will they Help

December- January 2012

The place where the women and her male friend boarded the bus at around 9 p.m., a busy and crowded area, called Munirka, is (was till now) a site where a case like this was unheard of (unheard of- is a case like this occurring in the public sphere of a market area during the busy hours of the city). Though women face lewd comments and men staring at them, these acts fall under the category of ‘normal’, a ‘normal’ understanding says that rapes in working class localities and slums are widespread, but not in a place like Munirka. Our ‘normal’ understanding also says that a women wearing salwar kameez, accompanied by a man in a crowded area around 9 p.m. in the night (like in this particular case) is safe. This incident shook many beliefs of students, parents and families, many of whom were spotted in the streets of Delhi protesting for the safety and ‘freedom’ of women, women like them and their daughters.

The week that followed 16th December 2012, the day when a daughter of a lower middle class family and a student of physiotherapy in All India Institute of Medical Science, was brutally sexually assaulted by 7 men in a public bus, large number of students, women organizations, middle class women and families took to the ‘streets’. Sites of protests that were first limited to the Vasant Vihar police station and the area around it, soon shifted to India Gate and Jantar Mantar (Jantar Mantar is one of those state sanctioned areas for protests!). Sheila Dixit’s (Delhi’s Chief Minister and a member of the ruling party, Congress) house, Police Headquarter in ITO were among the other places that the protesters occupied to vent out their anger against the ruling party, Congress or/and against the police force. In all this media had a prominent role to play in broadcasting every movement, mobilization and ‘tension/friction’, that was taking place not only in Delhi but also in other metropolitan cities like Bangalore and Calcutta.

After the day the protesters pelted stones at the police force present at India Gate and were lathi charged, something that was beyond the expectations of the protesters, all entries to India Gate were heavily barricaded and hence shut for protests. The crowd then moved to JantarMantar where one was allowed to enter to PROTEST after a bag and body check.

It is significant to scrutinize the composition of the protesters and to pose the question, whether one can understand the entire mobilization simply as a ‘spontaneous’ participation of protesters. A section of the protesters (mostly students and women organisations) came in huge numbers, expressing their anger immediately after 2 days the incident took place (the incident was reported in the newspapers the very next day). One saw an angry mob in front of the Vasant Vihar police station, blocking roads, shouting slogans and saw residents of Munirka join. Many of the protesters were witnessing and joining such a demonstration for the very time. The protesters mostly belonged to the middle class, where a large section automatically links corruption and manipulation with political parties in India. Looking into the question of leadership, JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union) made initial attempts to organize, which did succeed in getting the groups of protesters together but which fizzled away as the movement grew. All India Students Association and All India Progressive Women Association (Students and women wings of CPI (ML) Liberation) took over the leadership speaking not only the dominant language of the movement but also shaping and moulding the popular discourse. The movement spoke of ensuring the security of women in Delhi, ensuring her freedom to mobility, the movement spoke of reclaiming the night, the time when the city becomes unsafe for women, for women returning from work or going to work (in case of a night shift) and for women who enjoy being out in the night. Some of the demands raised by many women and student organizations are (1) ’gender sensitizing training modules’ must be introduced for the police force, (2) increase in women constables (3) fast track courts for cases of sexual violence (4) formation of laws addressing rape and sexual violence in consultation with women organisations and students and many more.

In Jantar Mantar one noticed that people formed different groups. So there were group of right extremist people (represented mostly by the men in the sites of protests), group of left organization (like CPI (ML) Liberation) and then there was a huge group of students and Delhi middle class residents who resisted the entry of protesters representing organizations. CPI (M) and AIDWA had formed their separate camp, where political celebrities like Yechury, Brinda Karat made their special appearances. And then there were people who chose not to belong to any camp and use the space outside the circles/groups to converse with people or to the media, which not only caught emotions of anger on camera, but also at times directed scenes of people crying. these sites, Jantar Mantar, India Gate and other places in Delhi saw people expressing thier anger through the modes of music and banners, but then the visual expression remained sadly restricted within these sites. Many recollect their experiences during the women’s movements in the 70s in India, where one saw an innovative usage of the urban space through paintings, poems and other visual expression, this however was completely absent in this particular movement. One of the most popular slogan that demanded freedom were, ‘we want freedom to get out in the night’, ‘we want freedom to work’, we want freedom to travel alone’, ‘we want freedom to be free’, ‘we want freedom from institutions like khap panchayat’. (Khap panchayat- these institutions that run separately from the Indian law control inter-caste marriages where women and men are often killed for doing so.

Women’s movements and organisations in India have repeatedly raised their voices against ‘honour’ killings, dowry, female infanticide, wife beating and other practices in urban and rural India. They have also fought and supported struggles against police and military forces accused of sexual harassments and assaults. Rape is not an act of pleasure. Rape is used by the State and the military to infuse fear in the people. It is a tool of domination.
States like Kashmir and Manipur, which demand freedom from the Indian State, have been facing brutal repression on a daily basis. The military forces, an integral instrument of the State, uses rape and harassment blatantly as a means to assert their power in these conflict zones! A large Muslim population of Kashmir are either killed in fake encounters or are made to rot in jails for being tagged a ‘terrorists’ by the Indian State. News of custodial violence and rape are both numbing and usual in these conflict zones. There are not few houses but towns and villages in Kashmir that have experience the extreme violence inflicted upon them by the Indian State. There remains a cloud of fear and anger over these regions- hovering over them every single day and night. People continue to fight for their azadi (freedom).

Manipur has a similar tale to tell. Kidnapped, brutally tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered by the personnels of the paramilitary force of 17 Assam Rifles in Manipur, Manorama Devi was victimised in the case of custodial rape in the year 2004. People of Manipur continue to fight and await justice. This is only one of the millions stories of military brutality and oppression.
The rage and anger expressed in the year 1974 by the women’s movement, when a adivasi (tribal) girl named Mathura was sexually assaulted by police officers in a place in the state of Maharashtra, led to the changes in the definition of the term ‘rape’ and inclusion of ‘custodial rape’, where custodial rape is today defined as follows,
‘Custodial rape is a rape in the custody or care and control of a person either in the custody of police, jailer, or in the custody of hostel superintendent, remand officers etc.’1

It is important to see the current movement and the demands in the legal realm as part of the women’s movement in India at the same time this movement recognised that sexual violence is not a women’s issue but the issue of the society.
Justice Verma Committee and the fight for changes in law- time to negotiate and compromise?

We feel that it is the duty of the State as well as civil society to deconstruct the paradigm of shame-honour in connection with a rape victim. Rape is a form of sexual assault just like any other crime against the human body under the IPC.

-Justice Verma Recommnedation

Early this january the government had set up a commission headed by Justice Usha Mehra to enquire into the aspects of the particular case of sexual assault of 16th December 2012 and further has asked people to contact and send in complaints against the police or any other authority responsible and suggestions Another commission ihas been set up called the Justice Verma Commsion to specifically look into the laws regarding sexual assault for the purpose of giving speedy justice and formulate recommendations. This commission too invites suggestion from the people.

The recommendations for the changes in the Criminal Law that were finally prepared are considered to be a revolutionary set of recommendations in the India history of law. It sees rape in relation of power relations and rejects rape as ‘a crime of passion’ .The Indian Penal Code clearly states under the definition of rape, that a wife cannot accuse her husband of rape. In other words a wife becomes the property of the husband in marriage and hence cannot refuse to any act of sexual intercourse. The Justice Verma Committee recommends the consideration of marital rape under the Penal Code. Further in India it is a very common experience that women often face harassment by the police officers when filing a complaint and hence many women avoid going to the police station to avoid the harassment. The recommendations takes up this issue with all seriousness where it focuses on the harassment a complainant faces by the police force. Moreover, the recommendations also hold the insensitive doctors and medical examination procedures responsible for the fact that women refuse and fear to file their complaints. Further, it also raises the issue of harassment women face by the paramilitary forces and that women face sexual violence in conflict zones and during communal violence on account of their identity. It further states both paramilitary and police force should be held accountable for such acts of sexual harassment and assault.

However, it is no surprise that the criminal law ordinance does not include most of ‘controversial’ recommendations, for many of the points are a direct attach on the patriarchy society and the State power, which the law must maintain. It refuses to consider marital rape; it also refuses to hold police officers, military forces and other office bearers accountable in additions to many other issues and concerns.
The movement began with the emotion of fervour and rage, with many possibilities and directions. But today the objective to push for Justice Verma recommendations is the focus of the mobilisation, where All India Progressive Women’s Organisation and All India Student’s Association (CPI (ML) Liberation women’s and student’s fronts) are taking the lead. Moreover, there are discussionsamong women’s organisations and lawyers of changing the language of some recommendations, make them sound ‘less radical’ in order to be accepted during the budget session in the parliament. (The ordinance will become a law once the President of India signs it and needs to passed by the Parliament within six months). Although these meetings with lawyers are open for public, there is no sign of ‘public’ in such meetings. What can be negotiated and what cannot be negotiated is the question the organisations are dealing with, so a recommendation like condemning military occupation in conflict zones has to be comprised, for it is too ‘radical’ a demand.
We saw voices, shouts, anger, slogans and poetry of freedom hovering over the city of Delhi a month back. While there is an immediate importance to engage with law and legal matters, these scenes of emotions are only scenes to remember, something that the books of law will not record. Pessimism? Certain questions and concerns that need our deeper engagement

The Effects of the movement and the rape culture

One of the after effects of the movement in 2012 was the demand of ban of the popular and much loved lyricist and singer Yoyo Honey Singh for his ‘obscene and vulgar’ lyrics, Yo yo Honey Singh (Snoop Dogg or Usher of India) who recently made his appearance in the music industry in India has sung in several places in Delhi and other cities in India, Delhi University is one such example, where Yoyo Honey Singh lovers and others came in large numbers, demanding their favourite songs. We must however locate his music and the lyrics in the society itself which not only supports such an industry but gives birth to these industries too, where this popular culture portrays ideas and thoughts that already exists in the society and also further contributes to the making of this society. For example Honey Singh as a character in his songs and lyrics is not fictive, I say fictive because this character represents the north Indian masculinity. Ashley Telis in his article ‘Study Honey Singh, don’t shut him down’ writes: “A study of his lyrics, his videos, his personae, his attitudes and his body would tell us much about North Indian masculinity, the political economy of Punjab, the coordinates of upper caste/upper class Punjab and the tensions and contradictions that ravage its subconscious.”

Thus while opposing and condemning the violence on the female body and mind which has been put to words, sung and appreciated, one must question the ban itself, where Yoyo Honey Singh’s music has been singled out and labelled obscene and vulgar. We do not support a ban, if it means a mere cleansing of the society from the ‘obscene and vulgar impurities’, a censorship, we do not support a ban of music, which humiliates a women, a goddess, which needs to be worshipped decorated within the four walls. We support a ban of music, pornography, films, advertisements, T.V. programmes ETC., products of capitalism, because they commodifies the women’s body, displaying her body for sale in the market. We support a collapse of this very society and culture where this industry breeds. Talking about commodification of the women’s body and the four walls of a house, these four walls, a symbol of protection imposed on women by a capitalist and a feudal society that practices and preaches disciplining and taming of women’s body, these four walls, the private sphere, holds in an innumerable incidents of violence, humiliation, abuse and rape inflicted on the women by the man. The four walls, which define the private sphere of two lovers in a relationship or marriage, terms the above mentioned acts as personal matters, matters where an ‘outsider’ must not interfere. The law in India does not consider marital rape, rape of a woman who is not a wife of the rapist is considered by the Indian law. Mere changes in law are not the solutions to the end of violence on those who are oppressed.

Is law the only solution?

We do not see a solution limited to the legal realm, where law is in the end of the day an apparatus of the State. A state, whose military forces are given the license to rape and harass women in many parts of the World. We are asking the very state to pass laws to combat violence on the women, we are asking the very state to punish its very police forces and military, in many cases the accused. Gender sensitive laws, a must for a gender just and democratic society, is a way through which our capitalist societies accommodates the many protesting voices, this society shall continue to change its very law every time it becomes ‘obsolete’. While the protection of women against sexual violence in workplace bill is on its way in becoming a law, unequal wages among women workers, which is illegal as the law says, is still a reality in India and other parts of the World.
Sexual violence and violence on the women’s body and mind

While the sexual assault case in Delhi has provoked us to ‘remember’ many other horrifying cases of sexual assault, we fail to ‘remember’ women sexually assaulted and abused by their partners or men. What is it that disturbs us? When violence on the body becomes evident through the body injuries? Where body injuries and the manner in which the violence is inflicted on the body measures the act and level of violence? The society with its institutions of law and policing thus defines brutality, where it differentiates violence on the genitals and violence on the mind. Further it undertakes the task of protecting the genitals of the women. Where the attack on the genitals is marked as an act of shame, where the ‘care takers’ and ‘owners’ of the vagina, the father, brother, husband and other relatives face the society with their heads low for the weight of shame is too heavy!! The victimised has to prove her ‘innocence’ to the society (though in a legal proceeding she is not required to) where for a wife or a prostitute the ‘case’ to prove that they are sexually assaulted becomes difficult because in their case consent is a given fact. (in case of a wife the vagina becomes the property of the man, hence no room for consent)

The city which recently witnessed huge number of people on the streets, protesting and continues to witness , is also protecting a growing surrogacy industry where women ignorant of the health hazards rent out their womb for a wage. Unaware of the short term and long term complexities these working class women are provided with a ‘healthy’ diet for a ‘healthy’ production. Many among them have gone through several pregnancies for it pays enough for their survival. The women give their consent (though based on partial information) and are free to sell their labour. Many women ‘choose’ this job over a job in factory for the daily abuse of physical and mental nature in a factory is far more severe. On the other hand the surrogacy industry like other industries gives them the freedom from financial dependence on the man (to some extent). The market works on these principles of freedom, where the workers are free to sell their labour and receive a wage for this very purpose. And hence the exploitation which the capitalistic mode of production attaches with the mechanical nature of work is termed natural and inevitable. It is hence natural for workers to work overtime. The violence on the body and mind is not brutal but is understood as the very nature of the work. The women selling their wombs are bound to undergo a brutal violence but that becomes part of the job which the workers choose.

We were sharing our opinions with strangers during the movement. Many spoke and are speaking around this time when the movement is moving. Many expressed their experiences of sexual harassment in public areas, inside homes by uncles and cousins, many expressed and many related to those who expressed. Many spoke of their independence. A middle class housewife asserted her independence of mobility in a conversation in Jantar Mantar, saying that ‘I never let my husband pick me up from the railway station.’ Further she added, ‘several cases of sexual assault and harassment take place within the house itself which go unreported’ and admitted that in some other scenario she would have never thought of talking to us, strangers on topics like these, which are on a normal day talked about in a private sphere of neighbours, friends and families. One also noticed a similar scene during the Anna Hazare movement where many came out to discuss their daily experiences where they face corruption; businessmen, housewives, students, factory workers, schoolteachers and so on.

The potential of the spaces created by these movements have been immense, people are talking to people they know and people they do not know, building solidarities based on opinions and experiences. People are not only talking about their experiences of sexual harassment but also for example talking about a ‘western’ culture which is responsible for such ‘acts of barbarism’. While we observe the creation of such spaces, one must also observe the class and gender of those who are joining the space. Is their belonging to a particular class and gender influencing the space? The task is not only to create spaces where we simply talk, but also to defeat and overpower spaces where fascism breeds and where a particular perspective of the bourgeoisie prevails. Our task does not ultimately end at building spaces, where people simply talk, but create this space as a means to organise and challenge the police force, the law, the social norms!
(This article has been written with an intention to NOT draw attention to a specific incident of sexual assault in the India, but to draw attention to every other form violence on the female body and mind, visible and invisible all over the World!)

*** On workers’ violence: Lonmin, Maruti Suzuki, Foxconn 2012 -
A text by Mouvement Communiste on the question of workers’ violence, debating the examples of struggles in 2012 at Lonmin in South Africa, Maruti Suzuki in India and Foxconn in China. On this page you can find the French version, an English translation will be on their website shortly. Click here for French text: LTMC1336FRvF

*** Important material on the question of class struggle in China -
On the website of the Gongchao collective you can find various important articles analysing the current stage of class confrontation in China.

http://www.gongchao.org/en/frontpage

*** Commentary No. 351 by Wallerstein: “End of the Road for Runaway Factories?” -
Wallerstein briefly describes the structural limits to ‘global re-location’ of production as we have witnessed it during the last four decades and as it has first undermined the strong-holds of workers in the global North and created at the same time the material foundation for a global cycle of struggles.

Commentary No. 351, April 15, 2013
“End of the Road for Runaway Factories?”

Ever since there has been a capitalist world-economy, one essential
mechanism of its successful functioning has been the runaway factory.
After a period of significant accumulation of capital by so-called
leading industries (usually about twenty-five years), the level of
profit has gone down, both because of the undermining of the
quasi-monopoly of the leading industry and because of the rise in labor
costs due to syndical action of some sort.

When this happened, the solution was for the factory to “runaway.” What
this means is that the site of production was transferred to some other
part of the world-system that had “historically lower wage levels.” In
effect, the capitalists who controlled the leading industries were
trading increased transaction costs for reduced labor costs. This
maintained significant income for them, if nonetheless lower than in the
previous period when they still had a quasi-monopoly.

The reason why labor costs were lower in the new location is that the
runaway factory recruited labor from rural areas that were previously
less involved in the market economy. For these rural workers, the
opportunity to work in these runaway factories represented a rise in
real income, while at the same time for the owners of the runaway
factory these workers were being paid less than those who had been
working in the previous location. This is what is called a win-win solution.

The problem with this seemingly wonderful solution has always been that
it was not lasting. After about another twenty-five years, the workers
in the new location began to launch syndical action, and the cost of
their labor began to rise. When it rose enough, the owners of the
runaway factory had only one real option – to runaway once again.
Meanwhile, new leading industries were being constructed in zones that
had accumulated wealth. Thus, there has been a constant movement of the
location of industries of all sorts. Quasi-monopolies after
quasi-monopolies! Runaway factories after runaway factories!

It has been a marvel of capitalist adjustment to a long process of
constant change of circumstance. This marvelous system has however
depended on one structural element – the possibility of finding new
“virgin” areas for relocation of runaway factories. By virgin areas, I
mean rural zones that were relatively uninvolved in the world market
economy.

However, over the past 500 years, we have been “using up” such areas.
This can be measured quite simply by the de-ruralization of the world’s
populations. Today, such rural areas are reduced to a minority of the
world’s surface, and it seems likely that by 2050, they will be a very,
very small minority.

To see the consequences of such massive de-ruralization, we need only
turn to an article in *The New York Times* of April 9. It is entitled
“Hello, Cambodia.” The article describes the “flocking” to Cambodia of
factories that are fleeing China because of the rise of wage-levels in
China, a previous recipient of such runaway factories. However, the
article continues, “multinational companies are finding that they can
run from China’s rising wages but cannot truly hide.”

The problem for the multinationals is that the incredible expansion of
communications has caused the end of the win-win situation. Workers in
Cambodia today have begun syndical action after only a few years, not
after twenty-five. There are strikes and pressure for higher wages and
benefits, which they are receiving. This of course reduces the value for
the multinationals of moving to Cambodia, or Myanmar, or Vietnam, or the
Philippines. It now turns out that the savings of moving from China are
not all that great.

The *Times* article notes that “some factories have moved anyway, at the
request of Western buyers who fear depending on a single country.”
Conclusion of a manufacturing consultant: There are risks of moving to
Cambodia, but “there’s a risk in staying in China, too.” In any case, is
there somewhere to move the runaway factory? Or is Cambodia the end of
the line?

The bottom line is that the combination of already enormous and still
increasing de-ruralization and the rapidity with which workers can learn
of their relatively low wages and therefore begin to take syndical
action has resulted in a continuing rise in the pay levels of the least
skilled workers, and therefore a worldwide negative pressure of the
possibilities of accumulating capital. This is not good news for the
large multinationals.

This is all one element in what has become the structural crisis of the
modern world-system. We are experiencing a combination of
ever-increasing austerity pressures on the 99% with a capitalist system
that is no longer so profitable for capitalists. This combination means
that capitalism as a world-system is on its way out.

Both sides are seeking alternatives – but obviously different ones. We
are collectively facing a “choice” over the next decades. One
possibility is a new non-capitalist system that replicates (and perhaps
worsens) the three essential features of capitalism – hierarchy,
exploitation, and polarization. The other possibility is a new system
that is relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian. The latter
system, one should underline, has never existed in the history of the
world. But it is possible.

In any case, Cambodia is not the future of the modern world-system. It
represents rather the last vestiges of a mechanism that no longer
performs its task in salvaging capitalism.
by Immanuel Wallerstein

*** Angry Workers of the World: Issue #1-
New workers’ bulletin from London, around 2,000 copies for free circulation on working class housing estates, in warehouse districts and commuter hubs.
http://www.angryworkersworld.wordpress.com

*** Delhi’s Calling: Take Part in Faridabad Majdoor Talmel and read current issues of FMS in Hindi-

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: http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/p/fms-talmel.html

For current issues (May 2013) of the newspaper in Hindi see:

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/more-in-hindi.html?m=1

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