Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 2 (April 2007)
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 first glance the office towers and shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the front facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young middle class people lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts in call centres, selling credits to working-class people in the US or pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door thousands of rural-migrant workers uprooted by the agrarian crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop, at the outskirts of Gurgaon Indias biggest Special Economic Zone is in the making. The following newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable boom region. If you want to get to know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project, please have a go at:
For this and following newsletters we want to introduce four different categories of texts which should make it easier to trace back certain developments.
1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective
2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area
3) According to Plan -
General information on the development of the region, certain company policies
4) About the Project -
Up-Dates on Gurgaon Workers News
Most of the texts in this issue display the dark-side of the boom. A deeper analysis of the more hopeful recent struggles of temp workers at Hero Honda, Honda Manesar (HMSI), Delphi and the dynamic work-force composition within the new industrial areas is still to come.
1) Proletarian Experiences
*** Death and Development -
Short news on industrial accidents, road deaths, bomb alarms, serial killings and other achievements of development in Gurgaon and on its highways.
*** Factory and Police Station -
Recent story by metal worker from Faridabad, told to FMS.
*** Exploitation and the Law -
Short glimpses of current conditions in various Faridabad factories, in the shadow of the official labour law (March 2007 issue of FMS)
2) Collective Action
*** Pressline Worker -
Example of small but sucessful industrial action, trying to avoid the lock-out trap.
*** Bicycle-Rikshaws and Strike at Liberty Shoe factory -
Short chat with former Liberty Shoe worker and short news on last industrial dispute at Liberty Shoe factory, Haryana.
*** Commuter Riot -
Fear on the highways, stress on the railways. Proletarian commuters causing a riot at Faridabad Old Station. From October 2006 issue of Faridabad Majdoor Samaachar (FMS).
*** Techy Wage Increase -
Unsuccessful attempt of wage increase by Gurgaon Call Centre Workers
3) According to Plan
*** Special Economic Zones, Part One -
Economy times two in Gurgaon, short summary of recent newspaper articles on the planned SEZ.
*** Corporate Watch -
Recent news on multi-national companies in Gurgaon.
4) About the Project
*** Short Presentation of Gurgaon Workers News and Glossary -
Introduction to GurgaonWorkersNews and Glossary on welfare policies, wages and prices.
1) Proletarian Experiences
*** Death and Development -
Capitalist development kills in many ways. On 14th of March 2007 several peasants in Nandigram, West Bengal are shot dead protesting against being displaced for a SEZ. In Singur people get killed because they resist the construction of a Tata car factory. Once the car factory is running, the production creates more victims. Suzuki Maruti in Gurgaon has outsourced most of the dangerous sheet-metal work to work-shops and slum production-units in Faridabad. The blood now flows outside the companies premises, union sources estimate that daily over a dozen fingers are mutilated in the work-shops. On 14th of March 2007, while peasants are shot at in Nandigram, three workers in Gurgaon die and six get injured at Evergreen Plywood Limited factory when a boiler explodes. Technical failure. The enforcement of (automobile) industries, the production and the product are fatal. On 12th of March 2007 a young man dies on the new Gurgaon-Delhi highway. He is the twelfth, other sources say the seventeenth person who got killed on this short 15 to 20 km stretch of the NH8 during the last 50 days. In the period between 2003 and 2006 over 1,500 people got injured on highway. The highway and the double lane street beneath it cuts old and new Gurgaon in half and there is hardly safe way to get from one side to the other. Foot-crossings are not part of the supply-chain. Main reason for the construction of the highway: supply of the Gurgaon call centres with thousands of workers from Delhi, just-in-time supply of Maruti, Hero Honda and HMSI with parts, easy travelling for the upper management and high-speed drive-way to Gurgaon’s shopping-malls. Wealth on display attracts people wanting to shine in its halo and people wanting to shine in its purgatory. The shopping-malls on the road between Delhi and Gurgaon are packed with tens of thousands of consumers every day and monthly tens of thousands run onto the street in panic, scared by bomb alarms, the last time on 16th of March 2007. Development is brutal and causes brutalisation. In February 2007 the chapter of a serial killing is legally closed. During the time between January and April 2006 a group of taxi drivers killed 20 people travelling between Delhi and Gurgaon, most of them local workers. They robbed a total of 60,000 Rs, this is 3,000 Rs for a life.
The following reports are translated from Hindi, published in Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar (FMS). FMS is a monthly independent workers newspaper, about 5,000 copies are distributed in Faridabad and beyond. The newspaper exists since the early 1980s, it is free. Workers are encouraged to contribute with their thoughts and experiences. If you want to get in touch:
Autopin Jhuggi, NIT
Faridabad – 121001
*** Factory and Police Station -
(FMS no.225, March 2007)
MG Export Worker
The factory located on plot 108, sector 24 produces steel and aluminium kitchen utensils and decorative pieces for export. The factory employs 67 people who receive ESI and PF (see Glossary), out of which 20 are staff (see Glossary), the rest permanent (manual) workers. Additionally 235 casual workers (see Glossary) work inside the plant, currently their number is low compared to other times. Even after two or two and a half years of constant employment for the company they remain casual workers, they do not have ESI and PF. MG Export runs two 12-hours shift, but after one day of 12-hour shift the next day you have to work during day and night. The shift would start at 8 am in the morning and end at 4:30 pm the next day. This is a 36 and a half hours shift. When it comes to working-times the company makes no difference between permanent and casual workers. You might be a permanent or a casual, the payment for overtime is only at the normal rate (although legally it should be paid double).
On Sundays the factory is made to seem closed, but actually production is on from 7 am to 3:30 pm. On Sundays workers have to keep their bicycles inside the plant. In sector 24 there are three other factories which appear to be closed at night, but MG Export uses them for night-shift. Workers are sent to night-shift from factory on plot 108 to plot 305, plot 329… In order to hide production there are all kind of legal and illegal papers. Finished products ready for export were first sent to Faridabad sector 59, now they are sent to Daadri in Uttar Pradesh.
MG Export pays the helpers 1,900 Rs per month, the operators get 2,300 Rs (see Glossary). On pay day workers and white-collar workers have to sign unofficial documents. Two or three days after having received the wage people have to sign the official register which says that the wage is according to the minimum wage defined by the Haryana government, which would be 2,485 Rs or more, according to wage category. The overtime is not even documented on the unofficial papers.
On the 15th of Febuary 2007 the chairman and managing director of MG Export were on rounds in the factory from 1 pm to 4 pm. During this time the sahib started to kick a power press worker for a minor fault. In front of all workers the sahib slapped-beat-kicked. The people who started working at 8 am on the 15th of February were supposed to work till 4:30 pm on the 16th. The press operators left the factory on the 15th of February at 8 pm. There are twelve power press machines in the factory and they all stood still from 8 pm to 9:30 pm. The management called workers from the second shift at their homes, but in the night of the 15th only three power press were running.
On the 16th of February the power press operators gathered on a nearby square instead of coming to the factory. The head foreman went there and at 9:30 am the workers were brought back in the factory. The press operators started to work. Three hours later the company called the police inside the plant. Two police men took four workers from the press shop to Mujesar police station. Two workers were sent back to the factory and the other two were told to be charged with theft… Those two police men who had come to the factory had taken twelve metal bowls to the station themselves. One of the workers who was held in the station was the worker who had been beaten by the sahib, the other one was his friend. The police threatened and scared these workers untill in the evening they made them sign their resignation from the company and the police asked the company to settle the accounts of the workers. From the final payment the police men took 500 Rs each from the workers.
*** The laws are for exploitation and there is freedom to exploit beyond the law -
(FMS no. 225, March 2007)
The law: wages for a month of work have to be paid by the 7th to 10th of the subsequent month; the daily working-time is eight hours, the maximum overtime allowed is 50 hours in three month; overtime has to be paid by double rate; the minimum monthly wage defined by the government of Haryana for an unskilled helper-worker is: 2, 484.28 Rs; this is based on an eight hours day and four days off per month; the extra dearness allowance DA (see Glossary) for January 2007 has not been announced yet, this is at the beginning of March 2007; the labour department declares that they have not received any information yet about the speech of the Chief Minister announcing the introduction of a minimum wage of 3,510 Rs.
- Essar Steel Worker:
The factory on plot 10 is located in the Industrial Area, it runs two shifts of 12 hours each. The overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers get 1,950 Rs and the operators between 3,500 and 4,000 Rs. The employer does not give ESI and PF.
- CMI Worker: The factory on plot 71 is in sector 6. Now, on 17th of Febuary workers might receive the wages for last December. The production is booming, the permanent workers are forced to work 16 hours. The workers hired through contractors are driven to work 36 to 40 hours at a stretch and often fall ill because of that. The overtime payment is at single rate.
- Mahawir Die Casters Worker:
The factory on plot no.153, located in sector 24 runs two 12 hours shifts, 30 days per month. Overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers hired through conractors get 2,000 Rs per month.
- Galaxsy Instruments Worker:
On plot no.2, sector 27 C, the helpers hired through contractors get 2,100 Rs per month. The shift starts at 8 am and finishs at 5:30 pm. Even the permanent workers do not receive overtime payment for the nine and a half hours shift.
- Inotech Engineering Worker:
12/6 Mathura Road, Gurukul. The wage of the casual workers is 2,400 Rs, there is neither ESI and PF. The shift starts at 8 am and finishs at 10:30 pm. Overtime is paid at single rate.
- Dalaal Auto worker:
Plot no.262, sector 25. The factory runs two 12 hours shift, the overtime is paid at single rate.
- JBM Worker:
Plot no.133, sector 24. Less than 10 per cent of the work-force are permanent workers, more than 90 per cent are hired through three different contractors. The 50 to 60 permanent workers work two shifts of 8:30 hours each. In the filing, welding, cleaning, packing department 200 workers work on one shift, from 7:30 am to 9 pm, sometimes till 10 pm or even 1 am. In the press shop 300 people work and in the axle department 150 workers, on two shifts. From 7:30 am to 7 pm or 8 pm to 6 am. There is work on Sundays, too. Overtime is paid at single rate.
JBM supplies Eicher, Maruti, Hero Honda.
- Sangita Industries Worker:
Plot no.55, Industrial Area. The helpers in the factory get 2,150 Rs, but no ESI or PF. Daily working time is 12 hours. Overtime is paid at single rate. Four to five days wages get siphoned off before wages are paid. If you ask them about it they say that the wage office is in the companies factory in sector 24, “so what could we do about it”. Threatening takes place, but whoever keeps on asking again and again will finally receive their money.
- Venus Metal Industries Worker:
Plot 262, sector 24. Out of the 600 workers employed in the factory ten per cent are permanent, ten per cent are casual and eighty per cent are hired through contractors. In the press shop, the paint shop and the tool room they run two shifts. There is only little overtime. In the welding, assembly and packing department there is only one shift, from 8:30 in the morning to 9 in the night. During the twelve and a half hours shift they would not even give you a cup of tea. Overtime is paid at single rate. There is hardly any space in the factory. In the paint shop there is no exhaust fan and there is no space for putting up a fan. The heat of the paint shop enters the press shop, as well. This condition gets worse during summer. There is no canteen and there is no space to make meals. Venus Metal supplies Maruti, Hero Honda and others.
- Shivalik Global Worker:
12/6 Mathura Road. The workers directly employed by the company received their January wage on 21st and 22nd of February. The workers hired through contractors have not received their January wage, and today is the 24th of February.
- High Tech Worker:
20/6 Mathura Road. Out of the 40 workers directly employed by the company about four or five have ESI and PF. The workers hired through six different contractors have no ESI and PF. Whenever an official comes for inspection to the plant they are pushed outside the factory. The helpers get 2,000 Rs per month. Working-time is 12 hours and overtime is paid at single rate. Per month 100 Rs out of 500 Rs wage is siphoned off. When you leave the job they rarely pay your outstanding wages. The contractors push and threaten and tend to delay the wage payment. The January wage has not been given yet, on 19th of February.
- Escorts Worker:
The permanent workers have received the annual statutory bonus (minimum one month wage) in October on Divali, but after half of February has already passed, the casual workers did not receive it. For any little fault casual workers are kicked out the factory. And in order to get hired the casual workers have to give the company officers a bribe of 500 Rs.
- Vaibav Engineering Worker:
Plot no.63, sector 24. There are eight permanents and 120 casual workers in the plant. The wage of the casual helpers is 1,650 Rs, ESI or PF is not covered. There are two shifts, each twelve hours. Overtime is paid at single rate.
- SPL Worker:
Plot no.47-48, sector 6. The workers employed through contractors get 90 to 115 Rs per twelve hours shift. The wages of January have not been paid yet, on 22nd of February.
- Clutch Auto Worker:
12/4 Mathura Road. The 500 casual workers have not received their January wages, on 20th of February 2007.
- Orient Fan Worker:
Plot no.59, sector 6. On 14th of February in the tool room and press shop factory of the company a manager and supervisor together beat up two casual workers.
- Unique Engineering Worker:
20/3 Mathura Road, Northern Complex, plot no. 5/6. The workers have neither ESI nor PF.
2) Collective Action
*** Pressline Worker -
Given that a lot of industrial actions in the Faridabad and Gurgaon area end up in a lock-out and are often used by the employer to replace permanent and/or contract workers, the following short example shows that workers have to develop different kinds of collective actions. Particularly after the lock-out and repression at Honda Manesar (HMSI) in July 2005 a lot of workers, mainly those on contract basis, have learnt their lessons. Most of the struggles after the HMSI lock-out were short factory occupations (Hero Honda and Shivam Autotech in May 2006, Honda Manesar HMSI in December 2006).
Plot no. 262 -D, sector 24. In order to get better wages and working clothes and so on, us 30 permanent workers neither took a banner into our hands nor got engaged neither in a tool down strike nor in a walk out strike. We undertook other steps in order to effect production. The production level came down to 25 to 30 per cent. As a reaction the company locked us out on 16th of January 2006. On our own complaint to the labour department the company made the excuse that construction work was going on inside the premises and that for the workers attendance will be marked. After fifteen days a three-year contract is agreed on: 500 Rs annual wage increase, shoes, working clothes, soap is provided by the company, annualy three days tour, and for all who worked for the company for five – ten years a service award of 1,500 – 3,000 Rs. The full wage for the fifteen days that we were kept outside the factory was given. But still the company pays the ten casual workers only 1,800 to 2,000 Rs and they do not have ESI and PF.
*** Liberty Shoes, Strike and Cycle Rikshas -
Silaam is from West Bengal, he came to Gurgaon about two years ago, in spring 2005. He first worked at Liberty Shoes in Haryana, he did a lot of overtime, earned about 3,000 Rs per month. He says that he did not like the work, the control. About a half year ago he bought a cycle riksha. He now has regular customers, for example two women from Maruti Vihar who work in Call Centres. He cycles them every day. His monthly income is 5,000 Rs now, although it is unclear whether he has to pay back a loan for the riksha. If you want to lease a riksha, and this is what most of the riksha-valla do, you have to pay the owner 25 Rs per day. This is the big deal for all those who think that you can save the world by handing out micro-credits: give people a 20,000 Rs credit and they can be their own employer. The riksha then becomes the mill-stone around their self-empowered necks, while waiting with dozens of other small entrepreneurs at street corners, fighting over passengers to transport, not being able to go back to their village, because invested capital has to be moved. The alternative? Staying at Liberty Shoes stitching for nothing? The following news item on the last strike at Liberty Shoes show that conditions there are bad, but that at least there is a possibility of collective response.
26th of June 2006
Over 30 people, including policemen, were injured after the Haryana Police resorted to lathicharge on hundreds of protesting workers of Liberty Footwear who had blocked National Highway No 1 near Gharaunda on Monday afternoon. Police officials said that they had to resort to lathicharge after the workers pelted stones at them and refused to lift the blockade. About six policemen sustained injuries in the stone pelting, they said. Many of the workers, including women, were detained to clear the highway that had remained blocked for over three hours, leading to nearly 10-kilometre-long queues of stranded vehicles on either side of the industrial town of Gharaunda.
28th of June 2006
Nearly 3,500 of Liberty Shoes’ 4,000 employees went on a strike on Tuesday after about 50 of them were injured on Monday in a police lathi charge near the company’s Karnal plant in Haryana while protesting against low wages. Low salaries and lack of bonus have been the bone of contention between the two sides for the last nine-ten months. According to Dilawar Singh, union leader, Liberty Workers Union, “The company has not paid any bonus in the last one and a half years after reducing it from 20% to 10%. There hasn’t been any major hike in salary as well for many years. The management raised the salary from Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,300 over a period of 10 years. The management also misbehaves with the employees quite often.”
The company has about 4,000 employees working in its three units based at Kutail, Gharonda and Karnal. Employees of the two units at Kutail and Gharonda boycotted work on Tuesday and only 15-20 employees turned out in Karnal plant which has about 500 employees.
Liberty, though, seems confident of meeting its production targets despite the strike. “The employees at these three units had been producing very less since the last 6 months and keeping in mind their lackadaisical attitude we have increased our production in Uttaranchal unit by 30-40% by adding two more lines to it. We have about 170 employees there but the target is easily achieved due to major outsourcing of component part. There will be shortage of the products but we are hopeful to cover the losses soon,” said Bansal. The company also plans to set up 3 new units in Uttaranchal and Ponta.
The company workers say they will return to work only if their colleagues are released from jail and all false cases imposed on them are withdrawn. The Liberty Shoes workers have been in protest mode for the last three days ever since eight of their leaders were arrested by the police after a clash with two senior officials of the company who were reportedly seriously hurt.
*** Riot at Old Station, Faridabad -
(FMS no.220, October 2006)
A daily commuter: The 7:55 am Mathura Shuttle towards Delhi, the 8:15 am Ballabhgarh train and the 8:35 am Palwal Shuttle haven’t reached New Town Station yet, and it is already 8:35 am. The platform is packed with commuters. The Ballbhagarh train arrives New Station at 8:40 am, there is a fair bit of pushing and punching and quite a lot of people miss the train. The train has half reached platform number one of Old Station when people stop the train and force the driver to get off. After the front wind screen and the headlight are smashed people start breaking the windows of the waggons, the passengers get off the train and join in pelting stones. At Old Station about 20,000 daily commuters are crammed together. The front screen window of a freight train engine which stands in the station gets broken, too. The Capital Express (posh train conecting state and national capital) from Mumbai towards Delhi stops at the outer signal. A crowd smashing the signals arrive at the Capital Express and start to break the windows. A Minister of Home of the central government is on the Capital Express, as well. The police is there, but what can ten to twenty police men do once there is such a crowd? If they would use their clubs, they would get beaten up themselves. The DC (see Glossary) and SP (dito) from Faridabad and the Railway SP and a heavy police force arrives and the situation turns back to normal.
Between 6:30 am and 9:30 am there are nine local trains which carry 100,000 daily commuters from as far as Agra to the factories, offices, shops and other work places in Faridabad and Delhi. More and more people get stuffed into the local trains. The situation is so bad that there is not even space left to stand.There are between 500 to 700 people in one waggon! People who hang outside the train often get hit by signals. Often people get seriously injured while trying to get on or off the train. And an eight hours working day easily turns into a twelve to fourteen hours day. The Railway department often stop local trains while giving green lights to freight trains and express trains. In consequence a half an hour local train journey can extend to one or even one and a half hours. Reprimands for coming late you can get everywhere, factories often refuse people who arrive late access and send them back. Only yesterday night the local train which was to reach Okhla at 8:10 pm had been cancelled. After a long time in limbo the Malwa Express to Jammu was turned into a local train. In order to clear the way for the Capital Express the local train stopped for ten minutes in Tugalkabad and then 20 mintes at Old Station in order to clear the way for the Southern Express. The local train would have arrived New Station an 8:45 pm, the Malwa arrived finally at 10 pm. Under these conditions commuters will always be in a state of tension.
*** Techy Wage increase attempt at Convergys in Gurgaon -
Already older news item (August 2005) from major call centre service provider Covergys in Gurgaon.
“Not satisfied with their earnings, some BPO employees feel they can outsmart technology and earn bonuses for themselves. Some employees at Convergys were sacked because they managed to ‘create’ fake favourable ratings apparently from customers of SBC Yahoo, a popular ISP in the USA who have outsourced customer services to Convergys. The employees created new email IDs in the name of SBC Yahoo customers they were handling, sent a positive feedback to their company from this email ID and also updated this email ID temporarily on the customer’s database in their system.
Apparently this was discovered when Convergys noted unusual patterns of excellent ratings for some employees. On pinging, it was found that these feedback forms had been originating from an Indian server (used by Convergys, Gurgaon) rather than from the US servers from where they actually should have come. Customers were also asked to verify if they had actually given such feedback. Possibility is not ruled out that these executives even asked for passwords from customers under the pretext of solving their problems. But Raman Roy, the former CEO of Wipro’s BPO operations, says almost no one can access passwords unless customers themselves disclose the same. “But it’s possible if one has a strong understanding of technology. If these kids could manage that, then they are wasting their talents in a BPO,” he adds. But money seems to have been the greatest lure for such employees, as an excellent rating can get them bonuses of up to Rs 4,000 a week”.
You can read more about Convergys and the Gurgaon call centre world in newsletter no.1.
3) According to Plan
*** ;Not yet special enough: Special Economic Zones, Part One -
The following is a summary of recent newspaper articles concerning the planning of a SEZ in Gurgaon area. This can only be a first step towards a more general understanding of the capital and class composition in the area and the general process of urbanisation. The main questions concerning the bigger picture are:
– What kind of industries are concentrated in Gurgaon, how are they intertwined locally and beyond?
- What is the role of the state and private development companies in the expansion process?
- In which way is the village economy and agricultural surrounding important for the expansion and for the local labour market?
- What are the general movements on the labour market?
We have to avoid to get hooked on the different legal forms of exploitation, e.g. by demonizing Special Economic Zones or the impact of foreign direct investment and creating illusions about the workers’ friendlyness of the public sector or of ‘homegrown capital’. Nevertheless it makes a difference for the conditions or workers’ struggles whether they are exploited in a (public sector) school or an (export) textile mill. Recent uprisings in Vietnam, the Southern China and Bangladesh have shown that particularly in the export zones a young and uninstitutionalized workers’ movement appears on the stage. This is not because there the working conditions are particularly bad or exploitation relatively worse, often the opposite is true when we compare it to the conditions in older or small scale industries in the respective countries. The erruptions are more due to the fact that these workers know about their potential power: they see their generation united by similar experiences (migration), they know about the importance of their work (export), there is no incorporated (union) institution which would have an interest to sell them out and they know that due to the generalisation of conditions their struggle will very likely spark off chain reactions of discontent.
In Gurgaon area we have some similar features: spacial concentration of industries, importance of export and multi-national companies ( e.g. 75 per cent of all Japanese FDI in India flow to the area), a young migrant work-force, most of them on contracts, meaning that they have worked in various factories in the area.
The SEZ might intensify this concentration process. Right after taking over the Congress-led Haryana government decided in June 2005 to set up the SEZ in a private-public cooperation. The main developer is the private company Reliance Industries Ltd., the company also holds 90 percent of the shares of the project. Reliance Ltd. started as a company in the chemical sector and became huge by attracting small share-holders and riding the late 80s stock-market boom. Nowadays Reliance is in chemicals, communications, energy sector, real estate and others. In cooperation with the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation they plan to set up a 25,000 acre SEZ, which would be the largest SEZ in India. It is supposed to provide a cargo airport and a 2,000-megawatt power plant.
Officially the numbers of created future jobs in the SEZ vary quite a bit: the Haryana political leaders speak about the creation of 500,000 jobs, Reliances Industries Ltd. about 200,000. The actual industrial composition is still unclear. Just from scanning recent news items it seems that apart from IT, textile and automobile industries the trend goes towards bio-tech and pharmaceutical industries and companies manufacturing for the “green energy sector” (wind turbines, solar-energy, bio-fuels). Confusingly enough there are two more SEZ announced in the Gurgaon area, one by Rockman Projects, a multi-service SEZ, and one by Orient Craft, a textile hub. Rockman Projects anounces that as of December 2006, the land has been fully acquired in Gurgaon. The SEZ will be spread over 1,615 hectares and will also be located on National Highway 8. Orient Craft announced to set up a 750-acre SEZ, which is supposed to employ 30,000 people once finished. In the official Masterplan 2021 a total of 4,570 hectar is allocated to Special Economic Zones.
Clear is the trend to develop industrial land in Manesar, a small town in the south of Gurgaon, about 20 to 30 km down the highway. Official term for the outcome is Industrial Model Town-Ship (IMT). The Haryana government already announced a bulk of tax exemptions for companies which would settle in the IMT. After Honda HMSI opened their plant on the green field, also Maruti Suzuki set-up the new plant there, with various bigger suppliers in tow. According to the governmental Gurgaon-Manesar Masterplan 2021 about 700 hectars of land was converted into industrial area.
About the development of the SEZ first critical voices appear, e.g. of the Sampuran Kranti Manch, stating that Reliance Ltd. is more interested in the land acquisition for planning golf courses and Disney theme parks than in creating jobs. Compared to the situation in Singur or Nandigram the farmers seem to be less resistant to the selling of their land, which might be due to the fact that Haryana was one of the states of Green Revolution, meaning that subsistence or small scale farming has not a chance of survival anyway. Of course the media portrays the farmers as the winner of the situation, as people making loads of money by selling their property. This ignores that according to the magazine Frontline more than 50 percent of the people who live in the area are landless, they will be displaced and loose their jobs in agriculture (the official notification of the government states that the developer would have to provide alternative housing and jobs). The farmers say that the land is actually very fertile and that it is a shame to cover the soil with marble, but that nevertheless prices for agriculture products are down and cannot compete with the prices for land offered by companies like Reliances.
That not everyone is happy to leave their land is obvious. On 28th of March villagers from Gadauli Khurd opposed the occupation of land by Haryana authorities for a proposed SEZ to be set up by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, chasing away police and a squad that had gone to the area to demolish some houses and tube-wells. The local people gathered to oppose the demolition work and pelted stones at the team, which comprised a HSIIDC official. The window of a bulldozer was damaged and the team had to retreat due to the opposition by the villagers. Physical possession of the land will be taken soon with the help of police force and it would be handed over to RIL, said Gurgaon’s deputy commissioner Mr Rakesh Gupta. The villagers said they were opposing the demolition as the land was originally acquired by HSIIDC for the development of an SEZ by the corporation but was now being handed over to a private party. Sources said the current dispute related to about 300 acres of the total of 1,380 acres to be given by the Haryana government to RIL for its SEZ. So the overall effect on the rural population has still to be seen. Other voices criticise that the state would pamper private companies with tax exemptions and other incentives, while the state explaines, that the income from interests and general prosperity will more than counter-balance the low taxation. Fact is that compared to expected profits and attracted capital, state and companies managed quite cheaply to turn a large amount of farm land into an industrial area.
We still have to see what is actually behind the SEZ boom. There are already various “parks” in Gurgaon, IT-City, textile and cyber parks, automobile hubs. If you have always wondered what a Cyber City is, here the explanation from the Haryana Government Masterplan 2021: “Cyber City means self contained intelligent city with (…) high speed communication access to be developed for nucleating the Information technology concept and germination of medium and large software companies”. Some hot air with your bits and bytes, sir…? In the notification from May 2006 the Haryana government declared that it granted approval for 23 SEZ to be developed in the state. If the actual legal terms of SEZ will actually apply in all of the announced projects, is still unclear. Already existing are the impacts on the real estate and land prices in the area, another topic yet to cover.
*** Corporate Watch -
On the web-site you can find some news items on following multi-national companies in Gurgaon area, just click on “List of Companies”. The list is boring in a general sense and it smells like share-holders oi-stress sweat, but it might possibly be useful once shit hits the fan or a picket the factory gate. For a longer list of companies situated in Gurgaon have a look at the web-site, as well.News items this month on:
4) About the Project
*** About Gurgaon Workers News and Glossary
Gurgaon Workers’ News is a project independent from political parties or unions, trying to support workers’ self-organisation in their struggle for a better life. One of the projects’ aim is to document the development and workers’ struggles in and around Gurgaon, one of the current boom regions of global capital. For this reason we publish a monthly electronic newsletter on this site. GWS is not meant to be a purely documenting project, it is not supposed to be a one way street. We plan to distribute a regular newsletter/leaflet amongst workers in the area which, apart from local news, would contain workers’ information of related industries, companies or boom regions from other places in the world. If you want to have your information distributed to workers of a specific company, see list of companies on this site, or if you would offer to do the same at your place, please get in touch.
Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.
Lakh (see Crore)
Wages and Prices
Workers hired through contractors
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest trade union federation in India and one of the five largest. It was founded in 1919 and until 1945, when unions became organised on party lines, it was the central trade union organisation in India. Since then it has been affiliated with the Communist Party of India.
Business Process Outsourcing: for example of call centre work, market research, sales.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a national central trade union federation in India. Politically attached to CPI(M), Communist Party of India (Marxist). Founded in 1970, membership of 2.8 million.
Workers hired by the company for a limited period of time.
Workers hired for a specific performance, paid for the performance.
1 Crore = 10,000,000
1 Lakh = 100,000
DA (Dearness Allowance):
An inflation compensation. Each three to six months the state government checks the general price development and accordingly pays an allowance on top of wages.
Deputy Commissioner, Head of the District Administration.
ESI (Employee’s State Insurance):
Introduced in 1948, meant to secure employee in case of illness, long-term sickness, industrial accidents and to provide medical facilities (ESI Hospitals) to insured people. Officially the law is applicable to factories employing 10 or more people. Employers have to contribute 4.75 percent of the wage paid to the worker, the employee 1.75 percent of their wage. Officially casual workers or workers hired through contractors who work in the factory (even if it is for construction, maintenance or cleaning work on the premises) are entitled to ESI, as well. Self-employment is often used to undermine ESI payment.
1 US-Dollar = 43 Rs (March 2007)
1 Euro = 57 Rs (March 2007)
Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation
Industrial training, e.g. as electrician or mechanic. Two years of (technical school), one year of apprentice-ship in a company. During the two years at school the young workers receive no money, but they have to pay school fees. A lot of the bigger companies ask for ITI qualification.
Lay off in the Indian context means that workers have to mark attendance, but they actually do not work and receive only half of the wage.
Official minimum wage in Haryana in June 2007 is 3,510 Rs per month for an unskilled worker, based on an 8 hour day and 4 days off per month. But hardly any workers get this wage.
A locally elected village administrative body in charge of village-level issues.
PF (Employee’s Provident Fund):
Introduced in 1952, meant to provide a pension to workers. Officially applicable to all companies employing more than 20 people. Official retirement age is 58 years. Given that most of the casual workers belong to the regular workforce of a factory, they are entitled to the Provident Fund, as well. So are workers employed by contractors. If workers receive neither PF nor ESI they also do not show up in the official documents, meaning that officially they do not exist.
Officially the so called ‘governmental fair price shops’ are shops were ‘officially poor’ people can buy basic items (wheat, rice, kerosene etc.) for fixed and allegedly lower prices. In order to be able to buy in the shops you need a ration card. The ration card is also necessary as a proof of residency, but in order to obtain the ration card you have to proof your residency. Catch 22. Local politics use the ration depots and cards as a power tool which reaches far into the working class communities. Depot holders’ jobs are normally in the hands of local political leaders. In return they receive this privileged position, which often enable them to make money on the side.
Superintendent of Police, Head of the District Police.
In India staff includes managers, supervisors, security personnel and white-collar workers.
In general trainees work as normal production workers, they might have a six month up to two-year contract. Depending on the company they are promised permanent employment after passing the trainee period. Their wages are often only slightly higher than those of workers hired through contractors.
VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme):
Often a rather involuntary scheme to get rid of permanent workers. Particularly the VRS at Maruti in Gurgaon made this clear, when 35 year olds were sent in early retirement.
Wages and Prices:
When we hear that a cleaner in a call centre in Gurgaon, an industrial worker in Faridabad or a rikshaw-driver in Delhi earns 2,000 Rs for a 70 hour week, which is about the average normal worker’s wage, we have to bear in mind that they often came from West Bengal, Bihar or other remote place in order to get this job. In order to put 2,000 Rs into a daily context here are some prices of goods and services:
- Monthly rent for a plastic-tarpaulin hut shared by two people in Gurgaon: 800 Rs
- Monthly rent for a small room in Gurgaon (without kitchen), toilet and bathroom shared by five families: 1,300 Rs
- Monthly rent for a small room in a new building in central Gurgaon, single toilet and bathroom: 4,500 Rs to 8,000 Rs
- Half a kilo red lentils on the local market: 25 Rs
- Kilo rice on local market: 14 Rs
- 1 Kilo Onions and 1 Kilo carrots on local market: 25 to 30 Rs
- McChicken: 40 Rs
- Bus ticket to nearest bigger bus stop in South Delhi: 14 Rs
- Daily Newspaper: 3 Rs
- One hour internet in a cafe: 20 Rs
- Bottle (0,7l) of beer at Haryana Wine and Beer shop: 50 to 70 Rs
- Cigarettes (10), cheapest local brand: 25 Rs
- Cinema (new) ticket Saturday night: 160 Rs
- single entry for swimming pool: 100 Rs
- Starbucks Coffee (Latte Medium) in Shopping Mall: 59 Rs
- Faulty shirt on Faridabad local market: 40 Rs
- Single gas cooker plus new 2 litre gas cylinder: 720 Rs
- Re-fill gas (2 litres – once every month and a half): 100Rs
- Second-hand bicycle: 600 to 1,000 Rs
- Two simple steel pots: 250 Rs
- One litre Diesel: 30 Rs
- Driving license in Haryana: 2,000 to 2,500 Rs
- Start package pre-paid mobile phone (without the phone) 300 Rs
- Phone call to other mobile phones: 1 Rs
- Minimum dowry poor workers have to pay
for the marriage of their daughter: 30,000 Rs (80,000 Rs more likely)
- One month mobile phone flat rate: 1,500 Rs
- Compaq Laptop: 50,000 Rs
- Flight Delhi to London: 28,000 Rs
- cheapest Hero Honda motor-bike (150 cc): around 40,000 Rs
- Ford Fiesta: 587,000 Rs
- four hours on Gurgaon golf course: 800 Rs (info from golf course worker earning 2,400 Rs monthly)
- Two-Bedroom Apartment in Gurgaon: 10,000,000 to 50,000,000 Rs
Workers hired through contractors
Similar to temporary workers, meaning that they work (often for long periods) in one company but are officially employed by a contractor from whom they also receive their wages. Are supposed to be made permanent after 240 days of continuous employment in the company, according to the law. A lot of companies only have a licence for employing workers in auxiliary departments, such as canteen or cleaning. Companies usually find ways to get around these legal restrictions, e.g., workers services are terminated on the 239th day to avoid workers reaching eligibility criteria to become permanent. In many industries contract workers account for 60 to 80 per cent of the work force, their wage is 1/4 to 1/6 of the permanents’ wage.