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Watchtower overlooking shanty huts of 2,000 building workers

Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 6 (August 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 facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young middle class people lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts in call centres, selling loan schemes to working-class people in the US or pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door, thousands of rural-migrant workers uprooted by the agrarian crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; at the outskirts of Gurgaon India’s biggest Special Economic Zone is in the making. The following newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable boom region. If you want to get to know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even to contribute to this project, please do so via:

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

In the August issue you can find:

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

*** “Motherson”: Graveyard-shifts and company supervised gender division at the international car part supplier”, Local Automobile Industry, Part Five -
Account from a young casual worker about his experiences in the Motherson Gurgaon plant.

*** “How even the poorest worker can still make him(!)self feel like a boss” -
A rather clueless discription of domestic work and violence in a neighbourhood in Gurgaon.

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

*** “Delphi” – Automobile Boom and Crisis against the workers”, Local Automobile Industry, Part Six -
Some words on the situation at Delphi, world’s biggest car part supplier, in the North and South. Including a report on how the management of the Gurgaon plant was able to reduce the number of permanent workers from 750 to 250 workers while increasing the number of temps from 0 to 2,500. The reports, one given by a permanent workers and one by young workers hired through contractors, also describe how a wildcat strike of the temps in January 2007 was finished off by a united front of management and permanent workers’ union.

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

*** “Dig your own hole: A Glimpse at Urban Development in Gurgaon”, Part Three -
The article has a look at the relation between private developers and public institutions and the outcome for the making of the city of Gurgaon. Basically both sides -, HUDA (public developer) and private developers – have a main interest in building up expensive housing estates, commercial and industrial areas as fast as possible and then, in a public show-fight, blame each other for not providing the necessary infrastructure. The unsolved question of water and electricity supply, waste disposal etc. leads to a situation of shortage and partial collapse. On the one hand this is an ‘unwanted’ outcome of capitalist urbanisation, a sign of its incapability. On the other hand capitalism is able to turn its own situation of demise into a profitable business, it develops an interest in maintaining its own short-comings.

*** “Corporate Watch” -
This month with news items on: Amartex, Adani, Hero Honda, House of Pearl, TCIL

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

*** “Workers’ Theory” -
On the web-site (click “Workers’ Theory”) you can find two articles on ‘Operaismo’, a marxist current which tried to understand the new generation of factory workers, their rural background and their new modes of struggle in Italy during the 1960s. Their concepts and experiences might help us in the current situation in and around Gurgaon, for the debate on the revolutionary potentials in Delhi’s industrial south…

*** “Get sorted” -
New content list including all newsletters, now on the web-site.

*** Glossary –
Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.

1) Proletarian Experiences

*** “Motherson: Account from a young worker about his experiences in the Gurgaon plant”, Local Automobile Industry, Part Five -

(This is an extended version of a Hindi article published in the Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar no.228, June 2007)

The company

Motherson Sumi Systems Limited (MSSL) is a joint venture between Sumitomo Wiring Systems (Japan), Sojitz Corporation (Japan) and Motherson Group (India). MSSL is the largest producer of automotive wiring harnesses in India and one of the biggest plastic components supplier. MSSL has manufacturing bases in Noida, Delhi, Gurgaon and Manesar (located within a 50 km radius), Pune & Bangalore in India and an overseas manufacturing base in Sharjah (UAE), Germany and Sri Lanka. The company has shares in and runs joint manufacturing units with following German companies: Schefenacker Motherson Limited, Mothersonsumi Reiner GmbH, Webasto AG (sun roofs), Pudenz Wickmann GmbH, G + S Kunststofftechnik GmbH and Lisa Draexlmaier.

Motherson is an example of the dual-way internationalisation of the auto-component industries in India. Dual in the sense that on one hand there is an increase in exports of parts from India to Europe and the US (see article on Delphi in this newsletter) and an extension of the global division of labour attached to it. On the other hand we can see more and more cases of ‘companies from India’ taking over smaller suppliers in Europe and the US.

In some cases the take over of production units in the north-west lead to actual re-location of production. Webasto Motherson, a joint venture between German Webasto AG and Motherson, has relocated an assembly line from Germany to India and plans to use the facility to increase the sourcing of automotive sunroofs from its India operations.

In June 2007 Motherson took over the bancrupt rubber parts manufacturing company Empire Rubber in Australia. The take over resulted in cutting permanent jobs from 240 to 100. The Howard government introduced a law which makes it easier for companies below 100 employees to hire-and-fire them, very similar to the Indian Labour Law. Motherson took advantage of it, and hired additional 40 workers on casual contracts, keeping the permanent work-force below the 100 line.

In India Motherson runs 20 manufacturing plants, plus 18 plants as joint-ventures. 30 per cent of the annual turn-over are made from exporting parts, which is a considerably bigger share than the average in the industry. In Gurgaon the Motherson factory supplies mainly to Maruti Suzuki (27 per cent of Motherson’s Indian-wide annual turn-over in 2005) and to Hero Honda.

A worker’s report

Motherson Sumi System Worker

Plot 21, Sector-18, Gurgaon. Out of the 2,500 workers employed in the factory 100 are permanents, the rest are all casual workers. The factory in Gurgaon has been open for five years, most of the permanent workers have been taken over from the Noida plant (Noida is about 40 km away, in the east of Delhi). In the factory 1,500 girls and 1,000 boys are employed. The boys are certainly given a break after six months of employment (basically meaning that they are kicked out, some of them are taken back in after a ‘break’ of a few months, which is a measure to avoid the legal obligation to make them permanent). Some of the girls are given a break, as well – most of them are unmarried. Only people who have passed the 10th class and are between 18 and 22 years of age are hired. People who are 23 to 24 are told that they are too old and the company refuses to hire them.

At Mothersons workers work from 6 am to 2 pm, from 2pm to 10 pm and from 10 pm to 6 am, and they have to enter the factory by 5:30 am, 1:30 pm or 9:30 pm. For the 6 am shift the company sends buses to the first stop at Badarpur Border, Kapsahera Border, Palam, Uttar Nagar, Gurgaon at about 4 to 4:30 am. For the early shift many workers have to get up at 3 to 3:30 am… during winter this causes very big difficulties. In the darkness and without any soul around the girls have to be accompanied by their family members from home to the bus stop. The B-shift finishes at 10 pm and the buses leave at 10:30 pm. At 11:30 pm to midnight pm the girls have to be fetched from their people from the bus stop. The bus is crammed – often the boys have to stand. In the C-shift only boys work, the company does not run buses to Palam, Uttar Nagar, Badarpur Border. From these places workers have to make it to the factory on their own despenses. During the C-shift the canteen does not provide food, they give tea and biscuits at midnight and tea at 3 am. From the nearby Sarol village a lot of workers arrive on foot or by cycle.

Half an hour before start of shift the arriving workers have to clean the place while the earlier shift is still working, then a 5 to 10 minutes meeting of the area ‘helping hands’ (some kind of casual foremen). At Mothersons there is pressure to increase production. Most of the workers have to stand the whole time while doing the work. Every hour the production level has to be informed about. The company fixes the eight hour production target on the bases of an hourly target. The half an hour food break and the two ten minutes tea breaks are not taken into account when defining the eight hour target. By stretching ourselves and by hiding actual production numbers we manage to make up for the food and tea breaks – in order to meet the target some workers are not even able to have their meals. The area helping hands constantly shout at workers – demanding they meet the production target. The supervisor scolds if the production is less than the fixed level. And the guys responsible for the quality say that we have nothing to do with production numbers, we only want good quality – bad quality will not do, in no way. Us workers are squeezed in from both sides.

There is only little over-time at Mothersons and they pay it at double rate. The girls of the A-shift do over-time, the boys of all three shifts. If there is over-time then the shift will be extended by eight hours, which wears you out completely. The shift changes on Sundays – when you are on A or C-shift you don’t get enough sleep. You nod off at work and get injured. Machines are only run by boys and being trapped by the target quotas, the quality control and the sleepyness, fingers get cut. When fingers get cut the company does not fill in the accident report – after some days of private treatment you get the sack. Money for ESI is cut from the wages, but a card is not given. And in order to stop people from taking days off the company gives you 300 Rs in case you do not take even one day off during three months. In the bus on the 28th of May after the A-shift a girl had blood coming out of her mouth. After the workers put pressure on the driver the bus went to a hospital and two boys and two girls stayed with the ill girl…

The food in the Motherson canteen is good – six Rs are given by the workers 12 Rs by the company. During the shift the company also gives two tea. In the canteen workers hired through contractor work from 7 in the morning till 9 at night and they receive 2,500 Rs per month. Some workers are also there to hand out tea at midnight and 3 in the morning. The workers in the canteen get neither PF, nor ESI. Motherson pays 2,400 workers the minimum wage for unskilled workers (helpers) defined by the Haryana government (the minimum wage was increased around May 2007, the new minimum wage of 3,510 Rs is not paid). The machine operators also get this wage. Yes, when they kick you out, or give you a break, then they pay a 700 Rs bonus for each month of employment. The company fills in the form for PF, but not for those who stay less than three months – where does their money end up?! We do not know.

In the Motherson factory there are Group4 security guards. During dinner time there are two guards in the canteen, as well. At leaving time at 10:30 pm there is a security guard in each of the buses which brings the workers home (1). In Faridabad, on plot 12 D, sector 38 a new Motherson factory started work.

(1) The worker later told us that this is due to the strict control of the company over the relation-ships between boys and girls. Motherson sacked people for coming too close to the other gender. When boys and girls work next to each other at the assembly line and they are seen talking to each other too often by the supervisor, he will say ‘line-out’, meaning that one of them is transfered to another work-station. The company only sacks male workers after six months because they expect that the girls get married anyway and then stop working, so they ask them to sign a paper that they refuse to demand to be made permanent. Another disciplinary measure of the company took place on Holi, a carnival-like Indian festival, when people cover each other with paint. The company forbade Holi activities in the company and the company buses. Some people coloured each other anyway, some of them got sacked because of that.

He also told that most of the parts manufactured at Gurgaon plant go to Maruti, they are fetched on a daily level. He knows from a truck driver that a smaller truck drives three times a day between the plant and the nearby Maruti car assembling plant. Two truck loads go to the Motherson factory in Manesar, two bring parts from second-tier suppliers on a daily basis. The plant also makes small parts for cylinders of Honda motorcycles. Apart from that the workers do not know where the parts they produce are sent to, if they are for export or not. He also mentioned that amongst workers Manesar industrial area is seen as a dangerous zone, because more than once workers have been robbed on pay day. After being sacked from Motherson he went back to his village in the mountains for two months and then returned to Gurgaon. He went to look for jobs in the area by asking security guards at the factory doors, but he could not find any factory job which was not mediated by a contractor, meaning that it would pay less than the wage he got as a casual at Motherson.

After a month back in Gurgaon he ended up accepting a job in another smaller automobile parts supplier, Anu Industries Ltd. – Plot 102 – 103, Udyog Vihar Phase 4 – soldering parts for Hero Honda. Instead of receiving 3,000 Rs (2,500 plus bonus) for an eight hour shift like at Motherson he now gets 2,500 Rs for a six days week, twelve hours shift. He gets up at 6 am, makes breakfast for his two older brothers, leaves for work at 8:30 am comes home at 10:00 pm, then cooks dinner. At the current job the contractor tries to avoid paying the over-time, as well. The worker decides to quit the job after ten working days. When he has to wait for his final payment for a month, then the supplier Anu Industries Ltd. paid him only 400 Rs for 110 working hours. According to the law the company would have had to pay 2126 Rs. The actual payment amounts to an wage of less then 4 Rs per hour or about 8 cents/Euro. For working at a first-tier supplier of Indias biggest car manufacturer! The contractor was not willing to speak about the matter, he explained the low wage by deductions for ESI and PF, although the workers neither got an ESI card, nor PF number, not even a pay slip. Other workers waiting in front of the factory told similar stories of arbitrary wage deductions, one worker said that he got 150 Rs for fifteen working days.

After Anu Industries he keeps on looking for other jobs – one friend from Motherson now works in the Motherson factory in Faridabad, which opened in January 2007. Another young neighbour in his early twenties who works at Brake Systems India Ltd. in Gurgaon, manufacturing brakes for Maruti, might help him to get a job. The wages are not much higher, but at least the company provides lunch (though only after one month of attendance) and is nearby. Finally he decides to take the job at the new Motherson factory in Faridabad. Although it means that he has to pay another 400 Rs monthly extra for a small shared room in Faridabad plus his brothers have to continue paying the rent for the shared room in Gurgaon. The Motherson factory in Faridabad only opened recently, so the targets are not that strict yet. There is also hope amongst the casual workers to be made permanent after a while. Like at Delphi (see report in this newsletter) the new Haryana minimum wage rate caused some tension between workers and management. At one assembly line women workers refused to start work and demanded that the new minimum wage of 3,510 Rs would be paid. The manager promised to pay it and demanded to resume work. The next day ten women workers were dismissed. Motherson still pays only 2,900 Rs per month.

It was those kind of young and ‘unexperienced’ workers who kicked up the wildcat strike at Delphi automobile supplier in January 2007 (see article in this issue).

*** “How even the poorest worker can still make him(!)self feel like a boss” -

Describing cases of domestic violence always runs the danger of appearing sensationalist or voyeuristic, because what is described is seen as a private affair. A private affair which actually often happens in the semi-public arena. Despite this danger and despite the very limited knowledge of the reasons for why the following case of domenstic violence happened, it seems important to describe it for what it is: another sad aspect of proletarian daily experience. This is written from a neighbour who lived next to the family for little more than three months.

The floor of six single 10 ft by 10 ft rooms in the backyard of the landlord’s house is shared by three brothers from Uttaranchal living in one quarter; three male relatives, also from the north; a five-member family from Uttaranchal; a five member family from Bihar; a single man; and a four-member family from Orissa. The men work in factories, as security guards, drivers, helpers in a shopping-mall supermarket. The relatives from Uttaranchal used to live with their wifes, but they sent them back home to the village, because the living costs in Gurgaon are too high. The three women from Uttaranchal, Bihar, Orissa do domestic work, take care of the children. They do not share their work as such, they cook separately, they clean the clothes separately, making use of the common bathroom and tap. Nevertheless they cooperate, they sit together while taking care of the children, they ask each other to bring forgotten items from the market. They rarely leave the floor they live on, so they are their only company for most of the day.

The husband from Orissa has only day jobs, working here and there (white-washing), partly for the shop of the land-lord. Compared to the other men he seems to have more difficulties to adjust in the new environment. Unlike his wife, who chats a lot with the other women, he is rather isolated from the other men. Sometimes a former landlady turns up and asks the family to pay back some outstanding rent. The family purchases an old television, but two days later it disappeared again. Then another young male relative from Orissa arrives, he goes to a college in Faridabad, meaning that now five people share the room, living on an unstable income. He and the husband bond, rarely speak to the other men on the floor. There are on and off arguements, one night the husband throws things around, the two women neighbours and one of their husbands turn up and ask him to stop the noisy racket.

After a month the family from Uttaranchal moves on, the husband found a job in Okhla. A couple (and one and a half months later their two children) move in, but, maybe because they are Pandits, they keep to themselves. The woman and children from Bihar go back to their village, maybe because of the heat, maybe because of the living costs. This leaves the woman from Orissa alone with her two small children, a toddler and a four year old. The children cannot play anywhere else, but on the floor of flats, so she has constantly take care of them. Going to the market seems difficult, carrying the little one and trying not to lose the very active four year old. These 20 min walk to and back from the market is the only time she ever leaves the floor.

Her day starts at 5:30 am, she starts washing clothes, then makes breakfast, then has to wait for the bathroom to be available, then washes up, washes the kids, feeds the little one, sit alone with them till midday, goes to the market, prepares lunch, washes up, sweeps the floor, takes care of the kids, cleans the room, prepares dinner. Her day ends at 11:30 pm, when she does the final washing up. The only people to talk to are her husband and the younger relative, who often do not arrive before 7 pm. She rarely talks to the other male on the floor.

Their economic situation seems to get worse, during the heat wave the wife and the little child become ill and the little child got medicine. The arguements increase. Usually the husband comes home and complains about the food. She argues back that there is not enough vegetables, because there is not enough money. She mentions the landlord and the outstanding rent, she accuses him of drinking. He gets into a frenzy, runs in circles in the common floor-yard, then drags her into a corner, shouts at her and starts beating her. The beatings happen in front of the children and in front of the neighbours. The neighbours do not intervene, they say that they have no right to intervene, that it is a family internal issue. They refer to a moral right, but when asked about their inner voice, they admit that the inner voice tells them that his behaviour is wrong.

Over a month the arguements and beatings become routine like. The beatings seem to have left no physical damage, but things become more threatening when one night he takes a brick, runs to the room, but then leaves the brick outside. The landlady, an older peasant woman, finally intervenes. She says that she does not want to have all this trouble in the back-yard. The young woman starts to complain angrily about the husband, about his drinking, about mobile phone bills, adultery, she threatens to go back to her brother. The husband keeps silent most of the time. The family owes the landlord money.

Two weeks later, during another argument the woman kicks the younger relative out, throws his clothes in front of the door. She accuses him of hanging out at Sahara Mall, spending money, chatting up girls. He brings no money home. She could not have kicked out the husband. The husband beats her, she shouts and beats back, asks him to beat her more. This time four women related to the landlord arrive and intervene. They stop the beatings, but they call the woman crazy. The younger relative sleeps outside, but is back the next day. The landlord arrives and asks for the rent within two days, he as well calls the woman crazy. She knows that she will have to bear most of the hardship if they have to move out. Housework, bringing up children in a slum will be considerably harder.

Some people, asked about their opinion about what could be done, say that the family would only accept an intervention from people of their region or caste. Other people say that there is a new law which permits ‘outsiders’ to report domestic violence to the police, but that would not solve the material situation of the women (material dependence, social control, moral pressure). So far, after each argument and violent incident it takes only a short time till wife and husband sit together again, talking about daily problems, the children act as a transmitter, which brings them back together. The outside pressure to stick together is huge, the social isolation as well.

In other regions of India, where the communities are less shaken up by constant migration, women were able to fight back against domestic violence, e.g. by attacking alcohol sellers. According to ‘Down to Earth’, an NGO; “similar efforts have failed in Haryana and drinking has increased: A glaring example of the ruining effects of alcoholism is Bhondsi, a village of 2,400 households in Gurgaon district, where even children have become addicted. Forty per cent of the males between 15 and 35 and 15 per cent of the boys below 15 are alcoholics”.

If the village structure has been destroyed and there is no help to be expected from the state, where could a self-empowerment and collectivity come from, which could challenge the combination of domestically isolated work and violence? In Northern India hardly 10 per cent of all women do wage work and most of these women are young and still unmarried (see report on Motherson in this newsletter), so the majority of women will not be brought together at a work-place. Most of the neighbour-hood communities are still fresh and re-shape constantly, but maybe collective moves like those against water and electricity cuts (see newsletter no.5) can create enough collectivity in order to tackle the even more ‘private’ question of domestic violence.

2) Collective Action

*** “Delphi – Automobile Boom and Crisis against the workers”, Local Automobile Industry, Part Six -

(Another extended version of a hindi article published in Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar no.228, June 2007. Main piece of information are the reports from Delphi workers emloyed in the Gurgaon plant)

*** 1. Intro
*** 2. Delphi’s Crisis in the North
*** 3. Auto-component Industry in India
*** 4. Delphi in India
*** 5. Reports from Delphi workers employed in the Gurgaon plant

*** 1. Intro

While workers at Delphi in the US and Europe have to fight against wage cuts, mass redundancies and plant closures, workers at Delphi in India have to fight under the work load and low wages of the boom. In the US General Motors and the supplier Delphi, together probably still the biggest industrial company of the world, are at the edge of bancruptcy. The enormous increase in productivity (higher work load, speed-up, automatization) during the last decades reached its consequences: the car market in the US and Europe is over-flowing, cars cannot be sold, company profits decline. When companies like Delphi blame the ‘high wages’ of the workers as the main reason for the crisis, we have to see that wages in the car industry normally account for about 3 to 6 per cent of the total costs. Even if they might be able to reduce this small share by another 0.5 points, it will not solve, but aggravate the problem in the long run: if they sack workers or cut their wages, even less people will be able to buy cars. At the General Motors plant in Germany workers hired through contractors assemble cars which they will never be able to buy: from their monthly wages they might be able to safe 50 Euros, the cheapest General Motors car costs about 20,000 Euros. The car makers next move is to re-locate work to regions where wages are even lower: Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia. In India the car market is booming, but what does it mean for most of the workers: 80 hours weekly working-time for 2,000 to 3,000 Rs per month in the smaller supplier companies, maximum 5,000 Rs to 6,000 Rs for workers hired through contractors in the main factories of Maruti or Hero Honda. Wasting our life time and energy for a product which is harmful in every sense: road accidents, pollution, wasting natural resources.

The automobile is the best symbol for the rat-race the system puts us in:

…in Europe and the US most industrial workers are somehow connected to the automobile industry,
…without a car they cannot find a job,
…most of the kilometres driven in cars or trucks are kilometers driven to or from work or transporting material, not for travelling or leasure,
…workers have to spent more money on their cars than they can spend on their food,
…a glimpse at the traffic jams on NH8 expressway is enough in order to see, that the situation in India is heading the same way.

We work in order to enlarge the system which makes us work!

While the company attacks workers in the USA or Europe, currently Delphi depends heavily on the exploitation of the workers in the ‘boom’-regions, such as India. This might be the right time and situation to show that Delphi will not be able to black-mail and pressure us into ‘tightening belts and harder work’, neither by boom nor crisis. In the following we summarise some of the developments at Delphi in the US and in Europe.

*** 2. Delphi’s Crisis in the North

Before 1999 Delphi belonged to General Motors. Since the 1980s General Motors in the US has down-sized its work-force. In 1978, General Motors employed 466,000 hourly workers, and as late as 1993 had 233,000 blue-collar employees, in 2005 105,000 were left. In 2005 General Motors announced plans to shut down 12 factories and eliminate 30,000 jobs across North America by the end of 2008, including 25,000 hourly workers. Like Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon, General Motors out-sourced a lot of work to other ‘cheaper’ companies. For example Delphi, which was spun off from General Motors. Officially Delphi is an independent company, but General Motors counts still for more than half of Delphi’s sales. In 2005 Delphi had 185,000 workers worldwide, including 50,000 in the US, out of which 33,000 were unionized. 33 of Delphi’s 160 plants are in the United States. By May 2006 the unionized work-force was cut down to 20,000, thanks to a buy-off deal made between union UAW and management. Throughout the 1980s, the UAW company-friendly policy allowed suppliers to drastically reduce wages. In 1980, an auto parts worker earned 15 percent lower wages than a worker at a Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) assembly plant. By 2000, the differential had risen to 31 percent.

The question is: why did Delphi get into crisis. First of all there is a general crisis in the US and European car industry, which we mentioned above. Apart from that there are some pecularities. In 1999 Delphi had no debts, in 2005 it declared bancruptcy. Some people speculate during that these years Delphi concentrated on buying and extending production units outside of the US (which will not be touched by US bancruptcy law) and deliberately let the US part of the company go down the drain. They then used the pressure of bancruptcy for the following attack on the workers:

October 2005 – USA
Delphi declares bancruptcy: pensions, health care costs and wages are said to be too high. Delphi announced its intention to cut wages by 60 percent and eliminate 24,000 out of its 33,000 union jobs in the US. Delphi would hold on to only 8 of the 29 plants covered by its union contracts. In addition to wiping out two-thirds of its hourly workforce, Delphi is demanding that wages for the remaining workers be reduced from $27 an hour to $12.50, and $10 for new-hires. Delphi wants to eliminate up to five paid holidays and two weeks of vacation a year, force workers to pay 27 percent of their health-care costs versus 7 percent currently. In response to the company announcement and the silence of the UAW leader-ship workers organised a slowdown by workers at the Lockport, New York plant, one of Delphi’s largest facilities, whose 4,700 workers produce radiators and other vital auto components.

February 2006 – USA
General Motors announces that it might take over some Delphi workers, given that GM workers would accept early retirement. The emerging deal follows a long-established pattern by which the auto companies and the union bureaucracy split off older workers from younger workers and future employees. GM wants to avert a strike at the main supplier. The promise of jobs at GM for transferred Delphi workers is tenuous at best, given that the ailing auto company has itself announced plans to shut down a dozen plants and eliminate 30,000 jobs.

June 2006 – USA
On March 22, the UAW forged an agreement with Delphi and GM-the “Special Attrition Program”- in June General Motors announced that 47,600 GM and Delphi workers – 35,000 from GM and 12,600 Delphi – have accepted buyouts and early retirement in the largest corporate downsizing in the history of the US auto industry. Many of the outgoing GM workers will be replaced with temporary laborers receiving wages of $19 per hour, 30 percent below the current pay scale for regular hourly employees. They will receive no benefits. At Delphi, new-hires are being offered only $14 per hour, without any benefits. The company has already hired 2,000 temporary workers to replace a portion of its outgoing employees. The newly hired temporary workers will, as part of the quid pro quo between the UAW and the auto bosses, be compelled to join the union and pay dues to the UAW bureaucracy.

July 2006 – Mexico
In summer 2006 Delphi’s Reynosa, Mexico plant fired 250 workers for failing to purchase expensive safety shoes. Workers say that the shoes were a pretext: that Delphi was cutting production and wanted an excuse to cut its workforce. Auto parts maker Delphi—famous for slashing workers’ wages in the U.S.–is among the largest private employers in Mexico. Since that time, Delphi has refused to pay the workers the severance pay they are entitled to by law. Many are single mothers. To add insult to injury, on April 27 the local Labor Board informed workers that their paperwork had “disappeared.” On May 1, a spirited group of workers demonstrated in front of the board, and then marched to join hundreds of other workers demanding an end to “protection unionism,” where the union contract protects only the employer.

December 2006 – Marocco
Delphi sacks 600 workers in Marocco after an industrial dispute. The dispute was triggered when workers asked to see if the Delphi pays money into their pension funds and demanded a weekly day off. In Tanger 4,200 workers work, about 3,000 of them are women. Women workers complain about sexual harrassment by senior staff. The weekly working-times often reach 72 hours. According to the law only 44 hours are allowed. “Not one of the 598 articles of the Labour Law of Marocco is applied”, says Mokhtar Khoulhna, a Delphi worker. “They do not pay the over-time rate, and they do not pay Sundays as festivals”.

May 2007 – Spain
General strike in the Spanish province of Cadiz to support employees of Delphi. Tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of workers in the Spanish province of Cadiz have joined a general strike to support employees of bankrupt US car parts maker Delphi. The group is to shut its Cadiz plant, wiping out around 1,600 jobs and indirectly threatening another 4,000. Additionally Puerto Real’s factory employs 2,000 contract workers and 2,500 auxiliary workers. The plant supplies Volvo, Ford, General_Motors, Nissan, Mercedes Benz and Kia. On 21st of May a rather symbolic European-wide ‘Day of Solidarity’ was organised by different unions.

June 2007 – USA
A new three-cornered labor contract likely eliminates the threat of a strike against Troy-based Delphi Corp., which could have crippled General Motors Corp. According to Wall Street Journal which refers to the web-site of ‘Soldiers of Solidarity’ as source of information, the agreement will lead to the closure of ten plants, another four plants are supposed to be sold by 2009. This would only leave four Delphi plants running in the US. “The memorandum is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the union UAW, Delphi and General Motors teams,” added John Sheehan, Delphi’s chief restructuring officer in statement.

*** 3. Auto-component Industry in India

According to stats provided by the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) in 2005 there were nearly 6,400 companies in the sector, of which only about 6 per cent are organised and the remaining 94 per cent are small-scale, unorganised companies. Given that a lot of ‘companies’ are one-(wo)man enterprises in backyards (see newsletter no.3 on automobile industry in Gurgaon), the number will likely be higher. In terms of value added the organised companies (6 percent) account for nearly 77 per cent of the output in the sector.

The major car parts manufacturers entered the market in the back-stream of ‘their’ respective car manufacturers (Suzuki brought its suppliers over, Delphi came with General Motors, Visteon with Ford etc.). They first focussed on the supply of their mother companies, then extended their ‘client’ relation-ship to other car makers in the local market and during recent years the export of parts increased considerably.

In 1998 the value of exported parts was 330 Million USD, this increased to 800 Million USD in 2002 and to 2 Billion USD in 2006. About 15 per cent of the total output of the industry is for export. 75 per cent of these parts go to the major car manufacturers abroad. According to ACMA 36% of Indian auto component exports head for Europe, with North America a close second at 26%.

*** 4. Delphi in India

Delphi started production in the mid/end 90s in four main factories:

* Delphi Energy and Chassis Systems Gurgaon, Haryana, manufactures catalytic converters and evaporative canisters
* Delphi Packard Electric Systems, Gurgaon, manufactures wiring harnesses
* Delphi Energy and Chassis Systems and Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems, Greater Noida, manufactures heating, ventilating, and airconditioning systems, gas and hydraulic shock absorbers and front corner modules, half shafts, energy absorbing steering columns
* Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems, Jigani, Bangalore, turns out steering systems
* In addition to the manufacturing units Delphi runs a technology centre in Bangalore.

Compared to the global revenue of the company, the revenue from Asia Pacific and India in particular are still minor. In 2003 the total revenue of Delphi was 28 billion USD, out of which 1 billion USD came from Asia Pacific operations (India, Australia, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Korea and Japan). In 2004 Delphi India clocked turnover of about 110 million USD (of which exports accounted for 30 million USD). In 2005 this increased to 123 Million USD and 44 Million USD, respectively. The production of following parts have been re-located from the US and Europe and are now exported back to, amongst others, General Motors in the US: gas-filled shock absorbers, struts, and engine and transmission mounts. Workers from the Gurgaon plant also report that electrical parts are exported, as well. Apart from that the India operations supply shock absorbers to China.

In 2005, while the crisis was hitting Delphi in the US, management of Delphi India announced that the operation in India would not be affected. In the contrary, the media announced that ‘Indian workers’ would benefit by receiving outsourced jobs from the North, e.g. IT jobs to the Delphi centre in Bangalore. In 2006 the tone changed drastically. Prashant Shah, vice-president (marketing & sales) at Delphi India, told the Economic Times: “What the global transformation plan of Delphi essentially means for India is that our Bangalore steering plant and our Noida suspension plant will either be sold off or will be run by a joint partner.”

*** 5. Report of Delphi workers in Gurgaon

Delphi Packard Electric System, Gurgaon

(A permanent worker) “The factory is situated at the 42nd milestone on the Delhi-Jaypur Road (NH8). The plant manufacturers harnesses for Maruti Suzuki, Honda, General Motors in India and for Nissan factories in the USA. Delphi opened the plant in 1995, together with the plant in nearby Noida. In Udyog Vihar Phase One in Gurgaon Delphi has another small plant and offices. There are talks about a new plant opening in Puna…

Delphi used to hire young people for the production and the company used to make them permanent. In the seventh year of running the factory, in 2002 the number of permanents has increased to 750, this is when the company initiated a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), the permanent workers were offered 15 months wages in case they would resign. We were all young workers, nevertheless less than 50 workers gave up their jobs. At this point the union and the company got into a wrestling over a demand notice. The union said that the company has not given the Divali (festival) present, the management said that it had. The union said that members of the management had missbehaved with the female workers, while the management accused the union of undisciplin and suspended the union president. More back and forth about the question if buses were provided by the company or not: finally on the 9th of October 2002 the workers stayed inside the factory over night. Then on the 10th of October the union said that the management is ready to enter negotiations of an agreement and told the workers to go home. When we arrived at the factory on the 11th of October there was a lock-out notice at the gate. After having the workers worn out with a three months lock-out the company put forward the same VRS. And the union president took the initiative and he made a big number of workers sign their resignation letters, as well. We were naive, many gave up their jobs seeing others leaving the job. Nevertheless still less people resigned than the company had wanted. In 2003 the company initiated the same VRS for the third time. In this way the company reduced the numbers of permanent workers from 750 to 250 and started to hired workers through contractors for production.

By 2007 the number of workers hired through four different contractors has increased to 2,500. Compared to the 8,000 to 10,000 Rupies wage of the permanents the workers hired through contractors get 2,700 Rupies. At the beginning of 2007 the workers of the four contractors suddenly refused to enter the factory and instead they sat down outside of the premises and demanded a wage increase. Us 250 permenent workers, who are in the union, went inside and kept on working. Being a tenth of the total work-force, how pathetic was the production which us 250 people could run. The wildcat strike of the 2,500 workers shook up the company. The company started to talk about the competition with other companies, about closing the plant or re-locating it – and demanded from the union to put an end to the strike immediately. The union leader said that we are on the side of the workers hired through contractors and we are on the side of the company, as well. The workers hired through contractors were all young folks, but nevertheless they only reluctantly accepted to finish the strike after two days. After two days of suspended production the union got them all back into the factory. Now amongst us permanent workers the talks about transfer to Puna rises the fears of losing our jobs again”.

When we distributed this report in front of the Delphi factory nearly all of the young guys who took a newspaper were hired through contractors. The company management sent the security guards in order to tell the small crowd in front of the gate to leave. A group of 30 young workers chose a vacant road works in the middle of the highway in order to continue the conversation. Most of them under 25 years, angry and with the experience of having worked in various factories in Gurgaon. When one of the contractors arrived in order to see what the gathering was about, the workers fled. Many of them live in the nearby village. One worker who used to work at Delphi and who came to meet a friend told us more in a nearby tea stall. His account contradicts the report of the permanent worker concerning the strike in very important details, e.g. stating that after the strike all workers hired through contractors were first kicked out, and that the ‘ring-leaders’ were not taken back on the job. He also tells that 30 to 40 hours of the monthly over-time often just ‘disappear’ from the wage slip. The over-time payment is at single-rate, meaning that one hour over-time is paid with 12 and a half to 13 and a half Rs (about 25 cents / Euro or 30 cents / USD). The contractor company Human Resource Agency does not fill in the PF forms (Pension Fund). Money for ESI (health insurance) is cut from the wages, but when a worker cut his finger the accident form was not filled in. He did get no compensation at all. After the worker complained, Delphi said that he should address the contractor. At the beginning of 2006 two workers died in a road accident on their way home after shift. Delphi did not pay any money to their families.

Another worker we met during distributing FMS came from West-Bengal and was kicked out from a major tool manufacturing company Groz because he had an arguement with a foreman. He works at Delphi for little more than one month, but he said that Delphi is the worst out of the five factories in Gurgaon he had worked in so far. The company buses rund only for the permanent workers. The shift which officially starts at 8 am has to start working as early as 6:30 am. Eight – nine hours stress, no second break apart from the official ones, the assembly line runs fast. You used to have to sign a paper if you wanted to go for a piss, this has been abolished, but they still stress you about it. Many of the other guys said that the permanent workers are rather inofficial supervisors than work-mates. Delphi does not demand work experience, only a 10th class certificate. Workers usually work on one line, there is a line for Nissan, Honda, Maruti, General Motors Tata Indica etc.. They are shifted along the line, but not between the different ‘clients’. They get a company pass documenting on which work-station they have already worked. Delphi pays much less than the minimum wage. The wage is 2,428 RS, of which 300 Rs are cut once a worker takes a day off (except from Sunday, which is usually off, apart from when there is over-time). For a day off they have to ask the supervisor, not the contractor, who is the official employer. He says that there is no talk about the strike in January 2007, because most of the people only work at Delphi since one-two-three months. A lot of people leave Delphi because the job is bad. Later on one of his room mates, who had worked at Delphi for one and a half years, but who quit the job shortly before the strike, told us that during the prelude of the strikes there have been a small gathering of workers hired through contractors on Sundays in a nearby park. About 200 workers took part in the meeting. He shares a room with four other factory workers, a work-mate from Delphi, a worker of a major machine manufacturer, a textile factory worker.

The living arrangements can become an important factor in future struggles. On the same floor live about 30 young workers, all arrived on their own without family, leaving West-Bengal. Five to six people share a room, but people walk in and out and make use of each others rooms, e.g. the only television is shared, the three-four mobile phones amongst them are shared. They all work in factories within walking distance of the back-yard quarter, dying textiles, manufacturing zips, oil pumps for Maruti at Groz or harnesses at Delphi. Some of them now work in factories were others of them worked before. Whoever arrives home first from work starts to cook for the others, people living in one room always take common meals, guys from other rooms might drop in and share the food. All expenses are noted down and everyone contributes an equal amount when wages are paid. The atmosphere is like amongst friends.

He himself left Delphi shortly after, he said that after two months the mixture of low wages and stress made him leave. He stayed unemployed for about two weeks, possible through the support of his room mates, then started working in a textile dying factory, where already two other room neighbours work. At Delphi on the 30th of July 2007 the contractors gathered the workers in order to announce whether or not the minimum wage will be paid. The outcome was that the workers will only be paid 2,400 Rs like before, plus a maximum attendance bonus of 800 Rs per month (400 for the first ten days, then 200 + 200 Rs). It is very difficult to achieve a ‘complete attendance’, often it is not in the hand of the workers.

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

*** “Dig your own hole: A Glimpse at Urban Development in Gurgaon, Part Three” -

The following information has been summarised from an article by Nidhi Jawal in the CSE journal ‘Down to earth’, 31st of April 2004. It adds insight to the earlier article on Gurgaon urban development in newsletter no.3.

The article has a look at the relation between private developers and public institutions and the outcome for the making of the city Gurgaon. Basically both sides, HUDA (public developer) and private developers, have a main interest in building up profitable expensive housing estates, commercial and industrial areas as fast as possible and then, in a public show-fight, blame each other for not providing the necessary infrastructure. The unsolved question of water and electricity supply, waste disposal etc. leads to a situation of shortage and partial collapse. On one hand this is an ‘unwanted’ outcome of capitalist urbanisation, a sign of its incapability. On the other hand capitalism is able to turn its own situation of demise and under-supply into a profitable business, it develops an interest in maintaining its own short-comings.

a) Who is the law anyway: How private developers avoid the law to provide a certain share of developed land for the poor

b) Systematic anarchy: How non-governance can be a good deal for both government and private companies

c) Dig your own hole: On the water situation in Gurgaon

d) Waste away: On the waste situation in Gurgaon

a) Land dedicated to the poor

As per the contract between HUDA and private developer, 45 per cent of the total plots need to be carved for economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society. Out of this 45 per cent, 20 per cent should be EWS plots with a size of about 50 square metres (sq m). The rest 25 per cent should be sold by the builder at no profit no loss basis. The colonisers are free to dispose off the balance 55 per cent to the general public. Smartly enough, most colonisers have found ways around this clause. Even the EWS plots finally end up with the rich. For example the main private developer DLF sells the 25 per cent plots to its sister concern firms. These firms further sell them on profit basis to affluent people. And within months of this operation, these firms are shut down.

b) Governance

The first sign of governance is a municipal body for a town, which is missing in new Gurgaon. A municipality fixes some common tax rates for citizens and is also responsible for water supply, sewage collection and waste collection. In the absence of a municipality, colonisers are free to charge any amount of maintenance charge. Similarly in case of street lighting, horticulture, HUDA does not charge anything from the residents. But colonisers are taking money for all these services. HUDA was established and it started developing Gurgaon, the agreement was that within five years, the municipal council would take over the new Gurgaon. This period was further extended to ten years and then 15 years. Till date municipal council is not clear by when it can take over the new Gurgaon. At present, the council does not seem willing or able to take over the new town. But be assured, once there is need for ‘governance’, it will show up in now time: during the lock-out at Honda in 2005 the state had no problems to employ hundreds of riot cops to beat up workers. No problems between ‘private’ and ‘public’ responsibilities there…

c) Water

In early 1980s, the private colonisers had hundreds of private borewells and were drawing water free of cost. Today the water table has fallen down to 40 metres below the ground level. Gurgaon depends heavily on groundwater to meet its drinking water needs. According to the Central Ground Water Board, the present total water supply is 2,100 cubic metre per day, 70 per cent of this is met through groundwater. There’s no data on how many borewells function here, or how much groundwater is being sucked out. HUDA officials also have no clue of the number of borewells operating in Gurgaon. They quote borewell numbers from anywhere between 80 and 120. But after speaking with RWAs, Down To Earth correspondents realised that DLF alone has 58 borewells, and Ansals about 50: 108 borewells alone are with just two private colonisers. No wonder, then, the water table is falling at a rate of 1-1.2 metres annually, plummeting by 16 metres in the last 20 years. According to S K Gupta, executive engineer of HUDA, the groundwater table in Gurgaon has fallen from 12-15 m in 1986 to 35-40 m. Shopping malls, too, are into heavy-duty extraction. The Sahara Mall of the Sahara India Group has two private borewells and extracts 100,000 litres of water per day. Authorities claim that the mall has a sewage treatment plant of capacity 30,000 litres per day, but refused to show it. This situation sometimes shows up in visible perversion: in front of a slum settlement in Chakkarpur 30 women queue up with buckets in order to fetch water from a tank truck while men, may be their husbands, dig up a trench in the same street. The 400 meter trench is for a private water pipe for a single land lord…

d) Waste

According to HUDA, the total sewer line in Gurgaon should be 90 km; also some new colonies are yet to be connected to the main sewer line. For instance, only 40 per cent of the total DLF area is connected. So where is the rest of the sewage flowing? The bubble truly bursts when one looks at Gurgaon’s solid waste management. When the city was planned, no provision was made to dispose off waste. At present three separate bodies run the system. The municipal council manages the old town’s waste. HUDA manages its own sectors, and private colonisers have to manage their colonies. All three bodies function without coordination. Only 70-75 per cent of the total waste gets transported to the dumping site, leaving behind 25-30 per cent. All this waste is taken to a 3-4 ha low-lying area in sector 10 on Basai road, where it is simply dumped. The site is not fenced and there is no system for leachate collection and treatment. Further, the capacity of this area is over. At present there is no landfill for Gurgaon. Kumra accepts that at present wherever low lying area is found, waste is openly dumped. Private colonisers hire contractors, who in turn hire wastepickers on an eight hours daily basis. These wastepickers collect door-to-door in a trolley. The waste thus collected is disposed off in any open land or dumping yard outside the private developer area.

Some related and more recent news items on Gurgaon urbanisation:

Poor peoples’ homes destroyed
Gurgaon, July 18, 2007
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) today demolished more than 300 jhuggis and other structures at two places in Sector10. More than a score of police personnel accompanied the HUDA demolition squad. HUDA officials said they would return shortly to remove the remaining illegal constructions. All the Jhuggis and unauthorised constructions were set up on the HUDA land. The deparment is said to be planning a project on the land.
(The Tribune)

Outsourcing Gardening
Gurgaon, July 24, 2007
The job of maintenance of parks in Gurgaon town has been outsourced to the private firms by the district administration. Briefing about the plan, Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Gupta informed that all the 24 parks in various areas of the town would now be managed by the private contractors. He urged the municipal councillors and representatives of resident welfare associations to supervise the work of the contractors regularly and submit a report to the Municipal Corporation for analysing their work.
(The Tribune)

Corporate Watch” -
On the web-site (click: Companies situated in Gurgaon)
This month with news items on: Amartex, Adani, Hero Honda, House of Pearl, TCIL

4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News

“Workers’ Theory” -
On the web-site (click “Workers’ Theory”) you can find two articles on ‘Operaismo’, a marxist current which tried to understand the new generation of factory workers, their rural background and their new modes of struggle in Italy during the 1960s. Their concepts and experiences might help us in the current situation in and around Gurgaon, for the debate on the revolutionary potentials in Delhi’s industrial south…

“Get sorted” -
New content list including all newsletters, now on the web-site. The first list shows the cronological content of the newsletters published so far, the second list groups articles according to subject:

* Automobile Industry
* Call Centres
* Proletarian Experiences
* Riots and Road Blockades
* SEZ
* Strikes
* Textile Industry
* Urbanisation

——————————————————————

*** Glossary -

Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.

AITUC
BPO
CITU
Casual Workers
Contract Workers
Crore
DA
DC
ESI
Exchange Rate
HSIIDC
ITI
Jhuggi
Lakh (see Crore)
Lay off
Minimum Wage
Panchayat
PF
Ration Card
SP
Staff
Trainees
VRS
Wages and Prices
Workers hired through contractors

AITUC

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) is the oldest trade union federation in India and one of the five largest. It was founded in 1919 and until 1945, when unions became organised on party lines, it was the central trade union organisation in India. Since then it has been affiliated with the Communist Party of India.

BPO

Business Process Outsourcing: for example of call centre work, market research, sales.

CITU

Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a national central trade union federation in India. Politically attached to CPI(M), Communist Party of India (Marxist). Founded in 1970, membership of 2.8 million.

Casual Workers

Workers hired by the company for a limited period of time.

Contract Workers

Workers hired for a specific performance, paid for the performance.

Crore

1 Crore = 10,000,000

1 Lakh = 100,000

DA (Dearness Allowance):

An inflation compensation. Each three to six months the state government checks the general price development and accordingly pays an allowance on top of wages.

DC

Deputy Commissioner, Head of the District Administration.

ESI (Employee’s State Insurance):

Introduced in 1948, meant to secure employee in case of illness, long-term sickness, industrial accidents and to provide medical facilities (ESI Hospitals) to insured people. Officially the law is applicable to factories employing 10 or more people. Employers have to contribute 4.75 percent of the wage paid to the worker, the employee 1.75 percent of their wage. Officially casual workers or workers hired through contractors who work in the factory (even if it is for construction, maintenance or cleaning work on the premises) are entitled to ESI, as well. Self-employment is often used to undermine ESI payment.

Exchange Rate:

1 US-Dollar = 43 Rs (March 2007)

1 Euro = 57 Rs (March 2007)

HSIIDC

Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation

ITI

Industrial training, e.g. as electrician or mechanic. Two years of (technical school), one year of apprentice-ship in a company. During the two years at school the young workers receive no money, but they have to pay school fees. A lot of the bigger companies ask for ITI qualification.

Jhuggi

Slum Hut

Lakh

see Crore

Lay off

Lay off in the Indian context means that workers have to mark attendance, but they actually do not work and receive only half of the wage.

Minimum Wage:

Official minimum wage in Haryana in June 2007 is 3,510 Rs per month for an unskilled worker, based on an 8 hour day and 4 days off per month. But hardly any workers get this wage.

Panchayat

A locally elected village administrative body in charge of village-level issues.

PF (Employee’s Provident Fund):

Introduced in 1952, meant to provide a pension to workers. Officially applicable to all companies employing more than 20 people. Official retirement age is 58 years. Given that most of the casual workers belong to the regular workforce of a factory, they are entitled to the Provident Fund, as well. So are workers employed by contractors. If workers receive neither PF nor ESI they also do not show up in the official documents, meaning that officially they do not exist.

Ration Card

Officially the so called ‘governmental fair price shops’ are shops were ‘officially poor’ people can buy basic items (wheat, rice, kerosene etc.) for fixed and allegedly lower prices. In order to be able to buy in the shops you need a ration card. The ration card is also necessary as a proof of residency, but in order to obtain the ration card you have to proof your residency. Catch 22. Local politics use the ration depots and cards as a power tool 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.

SP

Superintendent of Police, Head of the District Police.

Staff

In India staff includes managers, supervisors, security personnel and white-collar workers.

Trainees

In general trainees work as normal production workers, they might have a six month up to two-year contract. Depending on the company they are promised permanent employment after passing the trainee period. Their wages are often only slightly higher than those of workers hired through contractors.

VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme):

Often a rather involuntary scheme to get rid of permanent workers. Particularly the VRS at Maruti in Gurgaon made this clear, when 35 year olds were sent in early retirement.

Wages and Prices:

When we hear that a cleaner in a call centre in Gurgaon, an industrial worker in Faridabad or a rikshaw-driver in Delhi earns 2,000 Rs for a 70 hour week, which is about the average normal worker’s wage, we have to bear in mind that they often came from West Bengal, Bihar or other remote place in order to get this job. In order to put 2,000 Rs into a daily context here are some prices of goods and services:

- 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.

3 Responses to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.6”

  1. Adrian Says:

    What’s up?. Thanks a bunch for the blog. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the good work. I will be popping back over in a couple of days to see if there is updated posts.


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