Solidarity Action for Honda workers, Berlin, Summer 2005
Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 7 (Oktober 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 want to contribute to this project, please do so via:
In the September issue you can find:
1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective
*** “Working in the grave of Hauz Rani, a textile factory hidden in the cellar” –
Report from a textile worker, published in FMS no.229, July 2007. Ghost factories manufacture clothes for bigger companies in Gurgaon and Okhla to later export. In June/July 2007 some piece workers went on strike and enforced a piece rate increase.
*** “Working at Nutan Printers” -
Longer report of a print worker in the south of Delhi, published in FMS no.229, July 2007. The print-shop’s main client is the central government, the workers do 351/2 hour shifts.
*** “Injured!” –
A mother tells about how a company tried to get rid of her son after he had been badly injured at work, published in FMS no.229, July 2007
2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area
*** “How to punish some and spread fear amongst thousands”, Local Automobile Industry Part Seven –
A longer overview on the situation at Honda Scooters and Motorcycles India (HMSI) factory in Gurgaon, from the repression in summer 2005 to the wildcat strike in September 2006 to the situation of workers hired through contractors today.
3) According to Plan -
General information on the development of the region and on certain company policies.
*** “Not yet special enough: Special Economic Zones, Part Four” -
Short note on farmers threatening to commit suicide against land acquisition and short article on mass factory closures in Noida, possibly related to the re-concentration of capital in the Gurgaon, Manesar area.
4) About the Project -
Updates on Gurgaon Workers News
*** Glossary -
Updated version of the Glossary: things that you always wanted to know, but could never be bothered to google. Now even in alphabetical order.
1) Proletarian Experiences -
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective
*** “Working in the grave of Hauz Rani, a textile factory hidden in the cellar” –
Report from a textile worker, published in FMS no.229, July 2007
In the basements of Hauz Rani near Malviy Nagar there are a few too many factories. From the outside you would not realise it is a factory, upstairs are rented out residential rooms. The names of the factories are not shown, only the house numbers. Neither does the company name appear on the attendance cards given to us workers. Between 50 and 150 workers are employed in the factory; cutting clothes, sewing, embroidery, finishing and packing. This is not a hidden issue, they all know about it – but the governmental (labour) officials never come here to these factories.
In the basements the situation is worse than bad – it is hot, there is dust from the clothes floating about, smell from the chemicals, warm muggy air. In these factories drinking water is a problem, we often have to buy water. There is no space to eat inside the factories and even otherwise many workers spend up to 300 Rs per month on one daily meal at the food-stalls. The rents in Hauz Rani are very high therefore most of the male workers live in the factories. A grave in the basement… thousands of people live and work in these graves.
There are quite a lot of female workers working in the basement factories of Hauz Rani, too. The shifts for the women are from 9:30 in the morning till 6:30 in the evening, for the men they are 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. But the workers are paid at piece rate therefore for the sake of 2 RS more you not only work faster but also work longer hours. The workers who cut the threads, be it male or female, are paid a fixed wage, they get 1,200 to 1,800 Rs per month. The wage of the checker and pressman is 2,800 to 3,000 Rs. Those who are called master have worked here for a long time and those linemen, finishing men and cutting men get between 4,200 and 7,000 Rs. The wage workers get over-time payment at basic rate. No worker working in the graves of Hauz Rani gets ESI or PF.
These factories in the basements are called fabrication units. Their directors get work from companies in Gurgaon or Okhla. Recently there was a conflict between the bosses and the workers about the piece rates going on. Yesterday, on the 30th of June in one factory the workers stopped working over the miserably low piece rate. The production in this factory stopped for three to four hours. When work restarted the director gave 6 1/2 instead of the former 4 1/2 Rs for a piece, the workers had demanded 7 Rs.
F-89/12, Okhla Phase 1. The main work in the factory is done for the central government. NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) documents and school books are printed there. There are four HMT machines which print one colour. In the basement, together with die cutting and paper cutting machines there are four colour printing machines, a Planta and a Yakyama. According to the rule there should be 40 workers for one shift, but here 25 are forced to work two and a half shifts.
At Nutan Printers the shift starts on Monday morning at 9:30 am and the work usually finishes at 9 pm. On Tuesday morning at 9:30 am work starts again… and on Wednesday night at 9 pm it finishes. On Thursday at 9:30 am work starts again… and on Friday night at 9 pm it finishes. On Saturday morning at 9:30 shift starts and on Sunday night at 9 it stops. Even if you are ill they force you to stay in the factory for 35 1/2 hours.
During the 35 1/2 hours Nutan Printers give 35 Rs for food. Food breaks are at 1 pm and then again between at 9 pm and 10 pm, then there is no break until 1 pm the next day. The company does not even give you a cup of tea during the 35 1/2 hours – the machines are running and amongst us work-mates we manage to go for a tea or a snack every now and then…
Nutan Printers company demands 30,000 prints in 12 hours and 90,000 prints for a 35 1/2 hours shift on the HMT machine. For the Planta the company demands 50,000 and 150,000 respectively, for the Yakyama 40,000 and 120,000 respectively. The company often only pays 32 out of the 35 1/2 hours under the pretext that these fixed production targets are not fulfilled. The manager lives above the factory, but although the workers are afraid they nevertheless manage to take a two-hour nap during the night.
At Nutan Printers this is the common condition, during the twelve months of the year. If there is no work on one machine, then you work on the other. The company makes 25 workers do the work of 100. Even with some of the hours cut the monthly over-time is about 200 – 250 or 270 hours. The over-time payment is basic rate instead of double rate, but nevertheless the money for over-time for each worker is about as much as or more than his normal wage.
On the documents Nutan Printers does not show the over-time. On top of which the company fills in a register with the days off and records the time during which workers are not attending work. Actually you work 30 days per month and one person does the work of two and a half shifts every month, but the register shows only 15 to 20 days of attendance. The company only pays for the future pension fund PF on the basis of these days, whereas PF money is cut from the wage for the whole month of us workers.
In order to avoid having to pay the gratuity payment after five years of employment as per law, Nutan Printers gives people the sack three to four months before they would complete their five years of employment. Meaning that the workers still work for the company, but they do not show up on the register and no ESI or PF is paid for them. Four to six months later the name reappears on the register and money for ESI and PF is cut again. There are some people in the factory whose names were made to disappear and re-appear three times like that.
Nutan Printers pay 2,000 Rs for the helpers, for those helpers who run machines 2,500 Rs. The Planta operators get 10,000 and the HMT operators 4,500 Rs. The assistant operators get 3,500 to 4,500 Rs. Instead of the 22 days paid regular holidays the company gives only 15 and there are no casual days off given. A security guard who also makes tea is on a 24 hours daily duty and gets 4,000 Rs monthly in return. In the factory there is no electrician, the guy who cuts the paper has to do this work, as well…
*** “Injured!” -
A mother tells about how a company tries to get rid of her son after he was badly injured at work, published in FMS no.229, July 2007
Mother of a worker who got injured at Jainendra Industries:
12 to 14 years ago I came to my relatives in Faridabad to bring up the children, after my husband died. In order to help me the older son Rahul worked in a clothes shop in Chaavalaa Colony and the younger son Manu works in a shoe shop. In January 2007 Rahul started work in Jainendra Industries factory, plot 116-117 in sector-25. It is a big factory, more than 500 workers employed, doing die casting work. Sometimes 12-hour day-shifts, sometimes 12-hour night-shifts and sometimes my son had to work 36 hours non-stop in the factory. On the 17th of February Rahul left for work in the morning and did not come back home at night. I thought that the company had made him stay longer. Rahul did not come back on the night of the 18th either. My nephew, who works in a different factory also in sector 25 arrived on the 19th and told that Rahul had been brought to hospital. He heard about it from another worker who just came from work at Jainendra Industries.
On the 17th of Febuary while working in the factory the 20 year old was crushed by a lift – he received a cut in his stomach, his intestines were cut, the waist muscles ripped. On the brink of death Rahul was lying unconscious on the factory floor, but what mattered more to the company was hushing things up. The workers at Jainendra Industries stopped the machines and then the company brought Rahul to a hospital.
Instead of bringing Rahul to an ESI hospital the company brought him to Tanya nursing home, which is quite far away from the factory, close to the old Dabua Sabzi market. He underwent two operations – first the intestine were sewn back together, then the stomach was closed with 17 stiches. The severe waist injury was simply ignored. Workers from Jainendra Industries donated blood for Rahul…
When we relatives arrived at the Tanya nursing home on the 19th of February, the people who were appointed on behalf of the company simply vanished into thin air – to make disappear the corpses of those who died of accidental death, is their duty. The doctor seemed like a person of the company – he did not give us any documents. Rahuls condition improved. The doctor wanted us to take him home but we thought that he should stay a bit longer because the stiches were still fresh. The company took a photograph of Rahul while he was lying on the bed in the Tanya nursing home. The stickes were cut on the 25th of February, then Rahul was sent home. On the 26th of February the Kanhaiya contractor arrived at our rented room in Chaavalaa Colony in Ballabhgarh and after he had given us a temporary ESI card he told us to go and get treatment from the sector-7 ESI dispensary.
The company took the photo they had taken of Rahul in the Tanya nursing home, superimposed a coat and tie over it, and used this photo to make new employment documents stating that Rahul started work at the factory on the 12th of February – five days before his accident. In reality he had started work in January.
The accident report declared that Rahul was employed by Kushvaah and Company, instead of Jainendra Industries. The name was Kushvaah and Co, but the address was the Jainendra address.
The big stomach injury was obvious, but as severe were the injuries to the waist and the spine. Rahul was not a the condition to stand upright. In the room we had to hold him by the hands and help him with the daily tasks and we also had to accompany him to the ESI. After improving slightly the ESI doctor gave Rahul a fitness certificate on the 8th of May. I brought Rahul to the Jainendra Industries and Kushvaah and Company factory, but both refused to take Rahul back…
Seeing that my son had trouble to stand up and remained standing upright I ran back and forth between ESI doctors and officials. I noticed that Rahul’s spine injury is serious… Rahul needs more treatment and rest. The ESI officials were informed about this… Together with my son I go back and forth between places, some people support me, but I have to do all the running around.
2) Collective Action -
Reports on proletarian struggles in the area
*** How to punish some and spread fear amongst thousands –
An overview on the situation at Honda Scooters and Motorcycles India (HMSI) factory in Gurgaon, Local Automobile Industry Part Seven.
The repression of the workers at Honda Scooters and Motorcycles India (HMSI) factory in Gurgaon in July 2005 has influenced the ‘collective consciousness’ of the local working-class like no other recent workers’ struggle related incident. After one month of lock-out, 800 workers were beaten up brutally by the police. The pictures of already unconscious workers being beaten were repeatedly shown on national television. Till today, two years later, many workers in and around Gurgaon remember this incident when talking about the (im)possibility of collective action against employers’ policies.
The repression of the HMSI workers was the culmination point of a longer, hidden conflict. The struggle became public when the lock-out started and when the question of union recognition became the focus, and it was then when it was taken out of the hand of the workers. At that point it became a power-play between international company management, the local and national political class, and the major union leadership. The traditional left only got involved when the struggle had already turned into a stage play and the workers into pawns. They merely focussed on the event of repression and the official demands of union recognition and thereby did not manage to help workers to find their own voice.
The attention (public and of the left) ceased as quickly as the media coverage, but the conflicts within the HMSI plant continued after the repression of 2005. There are conflicts around the question of contract labour, divisions created between ‘outsiders’ (most of the permanents are from other states) and ‘locals’ (workers hired through contractors). The local political class, which is also involved in the contract system still has its foot in the door and its middlemen inside the plant.
In the following we want to give an overview on the developments at HMSI. There has been a lot written about the events of repression in 2005, so we only summarise the most important facts. Unfortunately we still have only very limited insights of the daily debates and experiences of the workers. We can only refer to short tea stall conversations with workers hired through contractor in June and July 2007, a lot more of these kinds of conversations would be necessary to give a proper picture of the situation.
The Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) factory was opened in January 2001 in the Industrial Model Town (IMT) Manesar, a huge industrial area (3177 acre in November 2006) about 20 km southwards from Gurgaon. Manesar is a relatively new industrial development zone, constructions started end of 1990s. The industrial lay-out was developed together with Japanese planners way back in 1989. With the opening of the Suzuki plant in 2007 Manesar became an important industrial area for the automobile industry, a lot of major suppliers (Munjal Showa, Motherson, Bosch, Rico, Denso, Johnson Mathey, Napino Auto etc.) have their factories there.
The HMSI factory is spread over 52 acres. According to the company web-site the initial installed capacity was 100,000 scooters per year, which has reached 600,000 scooters by the year by 2007 and motorcycle capacity of 400,000 per year, newspaper sources say that the actual output is 1,400 scooters and 400 bikes per day. The total investment outlay for the initial capacity was Rs. 215 crores and now the accumulated investment is 800 crores. The factory exports scooters and cycles to other countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, but numbers are not given.
During the initial period Honda hired ITI (see glossary) workers from all over India, nevertheless asked for a training period of two years (the ITI workers had already passed a one year apprenticeship as part of their ITI course and the company asked for two years experience in a similar industry). The workers were between 20 and 25 years old. The management later on used the fact that these permanent workers come from ‘the outside’, in order to create divisions between them and the ‘locals’, which are mainly hired through contractors.
The official language in the factory is English, amongst workers it is Hindi, but people come from various language backgrounds. Because some are from Bangalore people at Honda knew quite a lot about the strike at Toyota in 2006, some union people also went to Bangalore.
The plant is divided into two buildings (Scooters and Bikes), parts for assembly come from all over the place, e.g tyres come from Indoor, but most suppliers are situated in and around Gurgaon. The engines are assembled in the plant. During one shift about 125 to 150 work directly at the scooter assembly line. The total number of workers has varied considerably, in 2005 there were 1,200 permanent, 1,600 trainees, 1,000 workers hired through contractors and 400 apprentices employed at Honda HMSI. In 2006 about 1,600 permanents, 500 to 600 trainees and 2,000 workers hired through contractors and apprentices together.
We first document an article published in Hindi in Mazdoor Samachar, August 2005, New Series Number 206, because it shows the hidden collective turmoil which went on before the lock-out took place and the conflict became official. Things were brewing at Honda, e.g. in November 2004 the workers refused a (rediculous) 600 Rs Divali – Indian festival – gift from the company. The company later transferred the money to the workers’ bank accounts anyway. Workers started to complain about the wage difference between Honda HMSI and the nearby Hero Honda plant.
“Honda Motorcycle and Scooter Workers: Plot 1, Sector 3, Manesar. The biggest problem in the factory located in Gurgaon is – work, work, work and work. The factory was set up four years ago and one thing that has been on the rise is production demand and the burden of work. The ‘saahabs’ (managers) keep the pressure of work up, and if anyone is questioned, then you are told – “You don’t have to come on your duty tomorrow. This is how things have to be done. If you can’t, then you can leave.”
Motorcycle production work is a year and a half old and production of motorcycles has reached 750 in one shift. In the newer scooter department, by using the threats, one line has been made to produce 2000 scooters in one day, by work being done in two shifts. One scooter has to be produced in 25-26 seconds. In this way, production of 1000 scooters has been fixed for one shift. But if, for some reason, this does not happen, then the B-shift has to make up to meet the 2000 figure. If, in order to make this extra work possible, production is halted for half an hour during the second shift and then continued, then no overtime is given. If production is still not completed then workers are forced to put in overtime. B-shift ends at 11:15 PM, but usually we workers have to work till 1-1:30 AM. Sometimes they have to stay at work until 5:30 AM to finish the production of 2000 scooters.
Parts are made on CNC machines, where one worker has to operate two machines at a time. Some parts have to be made in 15 seconds, others in 30, others in 50 seconds, and some heavy parts in up to 2 minutes 10 seconds. In all this time, two machines have to be operated together. There are two shifts on the line, but three shifts for production of parts. Working one shift is so tiring that overtime is impossible, but has to be done or you will be shown the door.
Around 90-100 hours of overtime have to be put in every month. The company compensates for overtime with twice the payment, but we workers are very opposed to putting in overtime. Considering the speed at which work is being done, no one will be able to work beyond the age of 35 to 40 years.
At first glance, at a superficial level, everything is good in the Honda Factory: Any worker (even the one who has come in through a contractor) is given two sets of uniform, one pair of shoes and a cap on the very day he joins. There are 25 buses to transport workers from home to the factory and back, and if there are only a few workers then even an Indica or Qualis. There are two canteens and a meal – roti, rice, two vegetables, curd, salad, something sweet – is available for Rs. 6. Every worker is given a coupon of Rs. 200 for tea and snacks every month. It is clean. There is a doctor in the factory at all times, an ambulance, Medi-claim. Permanent workers, trainees and apprentices are all given their payment on the first of every month, and those who work through a contractor are paid through him by the 7th of every month. Trainees and apprentices are brought from far away, and they are provided with accommodation for the entire month. Some of the ITI workers brought in by the contractor work for 6, 7 or 8 months and are thereafter sometimes retained as trainees. Trainees are permanently employed once they finish their period of training (one to two years).
The scarcity of permanent employment opportunities and the desire for permanent employment post traineeship compelled us to bear anything. But after the incident in which a worker was kicked, we increased dialogue amongst ourselves.
Last year, in October 2004, at 11:15 PM in the weld-shop, during B-shift, one manager kicked a worker. The next day, during A-shift, workers stopped work at 9:00 AM, to protest against this. When the manager who had kicked the worker apologised, work was resumed – this was at 2:00 PM. B-shift workers also stopped work. The manager apologised again and work resumed at 7:30 PM. If work stops in a factory for one day, it amounts to a loss of Rs. 8 crore.
Quarrels increased in the factory. This year, on 6th February, the workers were asked to sign some papers which said that they would refuse to claim certain rights in exchange for their annual bonus, and the management was very forceful about this. All the workers left their place of work and assembled in the canteen. No one ate food. No one left when the shift ended. C-shift workers also came and sat in the canteen. Next morning, A-shift workers made there way to the canteen as well, instead of going to work. Workers from all three shifts – 1200 permanent, 1600 trainee, 1000 employed through a contractor and 400 apprentices – were congregated in the canteen. No one ate or drank any tea. The company called police in the factory. The D.C. also reached the factory. There was no leader among us – the company asked for 5 workers from each department to talk with. An agreement was reached by 5-6 in the evening – there would be no suspensions, the bonds which had been signed were returned (workers burned them) and the production would be completed.
Work resumed on the morning of 8th February, after having been stalled for one and a half days. Pay was not deducted for the period for permanent employees and trainees, but workers employed through the contractor lost a day and a half of pay.
In April, the company gave its annual increment to the workers: Permanent employees got a raise of Rs. 2800-3500. Trainees got a raise of Rs. 600 (even through the raise in April 2004 was Rs. 750). This meant permanent employees were now earning Rs. 8500-10,000 per month; and trainees, Rs. 5600. One thousand workers employed through K.C. Enterprises did not get any increment. Their salary remained at Rs. 2,800. They work on production and operate the CNC machines.
Apprentices get Rs. 900 from the government, and Rs. 700 from Honda Company. Like all companies, apprentices are put to production from the first day itself, instead of being trained first. They work all three shifts. Most apprentices are brought in from far off places and Rs. 1,600 do not suffice for them. They get overtime through a calculation on their 1,600, not what other workers would get. Once a machine got spoilt because of an apprentice, resulting in the line being out of action the the entire day. The apprentice was fired.
Things were stable for a few days. Then, a fork lift truck got spoiled and a permanent employee was suspended. Ten days after this, workers refused to eat. The work was heavy, and so workers would drink tea. Trainees, apprentices and workers employed through contractors were involved in this. Despite a lot of pressure, workers employed through the contractor did not eat at the factory. When this continued for a month, the factory gave the worker back his work.
Some talk began that things would be better if there was a union. Workers would meet at the Devilal Park in Gurgaon at intervals of 15-20 days. Cronies among us would report the proceedings to the company. Some steps to align with registered and bigger unions were taken. The Honda company began to increasingly suspend workers over small matters. It began with workers employed through contractors, and by 26th June, 500 of the 1000 workers employed through contractors were fired. On 2nd June, to protest against this, B-shift workers left their place of work and went to the administrative building and shouted slogans. Production had stopped for half an hour and was compensated for later. The company fired four permanent employees the following day and suspended 25. In protest, meals were refused and overtime was stopped. Production of scooters fell >from 1000 to 450-500.
On 22nd June, the company put up a notice that trainees whose training period was over would be put to test on 24th June, a Sunday. Those who passed the test and if considered necessary would be employed permanently. This, when till now the company had been employing trainees and there had been no test preceding this. No one appeared for the test on Sunday. By this time the number of suspended workers had increased to 50. On 27th June, when we reached for work, the company asked us to sign certain conditions at the gate. When we refused, the company refused to let us enter the factory. Over 300 staff, 40-50 permanent employees and workers hired through contractors on 27th June itself, entered the factory. Work continued – there were around 2000 people in the factory. Police was stationed at the gate. Four thousand workers were outside the gate.
The administration was petitioned through the union. A procession. It even came to the Parliament during the 11th July session. But nothing changed. It was in this context that there was a clash with the police on 25th July and we were beaten with sticks.
Following this, claims and announcements on TV, in newspapers and by political leaders made it look like our problems would be solved. But on the instruction of the Central Government, the compromise struck under the aegis of the Chief Minister of Haryana has pushed us into hell. According to this, workers returned the factories on 1st August, and are filled with anger. Everyone is annoyed: permanent workers are saying that if they had to sign the conditions of Honda company afterall, then what was the point of doing all that they did. The 35 trainees who had finished their training are still out of work. The 500 out of 1000 workers employed through the contractor, who were fired on 26th June have still not been hired back. Those who had been hired through contractors on 27th will remain. The company will not pay us for the period from 27th June to 31st July. Through the deal that has been struck, the workers have been divided”.
Other sources give slightly different numbers about the wage level and the wage increase which the management used as a tactic to undermine their collectivity. According to the Citizens’ Committee the wages before May 2005 were 6,900 Rs for permanent worker, which meant that after deduction 5,000 Rs was left. They say that between 2001 and 2005 only minor annual increments of 200 to 300 Rs were given. Then in April 2005 the management granted a major wage hike of 3,000 Rs for (permanent) production workers, which increased wages to 8,500 Rs. People were informed individually about this wage hike. They were asked to sign blank papers along with it. Workers – some of them attached to the still unrecognised union – refused this and asked to hand out the signed papers. The management refused to give them back, a canteen food-strike began in response (the workers refused the food). The fact that the company started the lock-out shortly after the wage hike shows that it was part of management’s attempt to tackle workers’ unrest. Another attempt of the management was to introduce exams for trainees. The trainees work as normal production workers, so all workers understood the exam as a means to enforce discipline and increase the control over the work-force. 33 trainees were not taken on after introduction of the exam. The source is unclear about the question whether they refused the exam. In the following we summarise the further events in a chronology.
Chronology of Repression
February 2005: Official application for union recognition.
May 2005: During the course of the internal conflict (about management’s arbitrary behaviour and intimidation, about the introduction of an exam for trainees etc.) four people got sacked, 27 suspended. Another food boycot as protest against suspension starts (management asks workers to pay full amount of 25 Rs in case that they do not eat, because management pays 19 Rs for each meal, workers 6 Rs).
After a manager kicked a worker his work-mates started raising slogans, the manager said sorry for kick in front of workers. The management asked some 15 workers to talk about the matter, production came to a standstill for one and a half days. For the delegation of the workers the apology by the manager was not enough: demands were put forward: wage increase by 2,500 Rs, 20 per cent annual wage increase and a union office. The management offers 3,000 Rs hike in case workers will not form union. Workers reacted to refusal of their demands by slow down and refusal of overtime. They encircled management’s offices, alledgedly one senior manager was beaten. Reconciliation talks in May 2005 between DLC, management and union failed
25th of June 2005
1,500 workers of the A-shift of HMSI hold a rally. During that time the state and company increase the repression on union leaders, raid their homes, some get beaten up.
27th of June 2005
HMSI declares a lock-out, company buses are not sent to fetch workers. HMSI offers an agreement or ‘undertaking of good conduct’ for signing, agreeing:
a) dismissed workers are not taken back;
b) suspension process of workers will be proceeded;
c) union will not put forward any demands during the coming three years.
28th of June 2005
The union/workers agree on signing the undertaking, but company refuses entry anyway. A sit-down starts at the factory gate, the union takes attendance twice a day – i.e. seeing who is at the picket line in order to dispense any strike pay to those people only. At that point union leaders of AITUC and CITU get heavily involved.
29th of June 2005
After the retrenchment of 2,000 workers on 27th of June almost 2,000 local workers are recruited, a lot of them from supplying compaies, on a six months contract bases, hired through one main contractor. Local/outsider division. Workers hired after 27th of June have to sleep inside the factory during the lock-out. They are not allowed to leave. They are paid 5,000 Rs. Apart from them 250 permanent workers and 500 to 600 non-technical staff stay inside the factory.
11th of July 2005
A mass demonstration of 10 to 12,000 people takes place in Gurgaon, MPs of the CPI and CPI(M) hold speeches.
14th of July 2005
Six union leaders get arrested. Management, political and union leaders negotiated. HMSI officially tries to avoid recognition of the union. Management then agrees to take workers back into factory. The management demands that not all workers are taken back at once, first says a batch of 1,400 workers could return, then reduces this number to 400.
18th of July 2005
400 workers are refused entry, despite them having signed the undertaking. A total of 800 workers sign the undertaking. One report states that the temp workers inside the plant got afraid at this point and that many fled from the premises. On 18th of July only 38 workers punched in. This is in contrast to other reports which say that the workers fled on 25th of July, after the police repression.
19th of July 2005
1,100 workers have signed the undertaking. Management says that workers would be taken back in groups of 100 per day. The union refuses that, says that these workers might have to face repression when entering in such small groups.
23rd of July 2005
HMSI workers block the NH8 highway from 6 pm to 10 pm.
25th of July 2005
3,000 to 4,000 workers (700 to 800 from companies other than HMSI) gather in a public park in Gurgaon. First fights in Old Gurgaon, a police car is set ablaze. Later on political groups and provocateurs are blamed. The demonstrating workers are called to an administration building, they are promised to meet authorities for negotiations. Instead they are beaten up brutally by a mass of riot cops. The attack must have been planned before hand. 800 workers get badly injured, the violence continues after the arrests in the police stations. 63 workers are charged with attempted murder. Out of 375 arrested workers 79 did not belong to unions or HMSI. When the workers inside the HMSI factory hear of the incident they escape from the factory (literally jumped the fences), in fear that similar things would happen to them.
26th of July 2005
More fights in Old Gurgaon. Relatives search for disappeared family members in hospitals and police stations. Only the A-shift runs at the factory.
29th of July 2005
Settlement between now recognised union and management:
a) work discipline is guaranteed after return to the factory;
b) pending collective demands are considered as withdrawn, no demands for a year;
c) in case of good conduct and productivity, management will increase wages within a year;
d) number of workers hired through contractors will remain the same as before the 27th of June (although those workers hired through contractors who actually worked before the 27th have never been taken back on);
e) HMSI considers taking the 33 dismissed trainees back on (which did not happen)
Over 50 workers got charged with ‘attempted murder’ after the police repression. Their cases are still pending in July 2007. It is very likely that the police will get away un-persecuted by using these cases to blackmail workers and their representatives.
May, June, July production went down to 10 per cent of previos monthly production (200 scooters per month instead of 2,000). This meant a loss of 1.3 billion RS due to the lock-out.
The incident at HMSI was part of, and lead to, a re-balancing of forces within the ruling class: talks took place between Japanese and Indian government representatives about FDI policies and its legal frame-work; the local employers’ association claimed more support from local and central state; the main unions demanded to be included in the decision making. The traditional left reacted rather helplessly, criticising FDI in their (usual) patriotic ways. For the local representatives of capital it became clear during the month of lock-out and mobilisations that the situation could turn either way. During the lock-out the Gurgaon Industrial Association demanded state intervention, if necessary by using police force, stating that the situation has ripple effects and creates turmoil in other factories in the area. There is unconfirmed information that the management of Hero Honda gave a wage increase to the workers hired through contractors during or shortly after the Honda HMSI incident. Escorts workers in Faridabad report, that the management stopped a planned re-structuring attack because of the generally tense atmosphere (see newsletter no.5).
It is clear that the lock-out was a major turn of the conflict, a moment when workers became more dependent on external support and on the official (union) organization, which had their own interests in the matter. The further mobilisation (rallies, speeches of leaders, demonstrations), unlike the actions within the factory, took place in the traditional manner, ending in workers being trapped and beaten up in a public event. The question is if workers could have avoided being victimised like that. The focus on union recognition became part of the problem: for the union to be officially recognised, the ‘public attention’ and the political stage-play became a necessary element. After the repression, the union got recognition, but their influence was restricted by the final agreement. The workers hired through contractors, who fought together with the permanents, were not and are still not represented by the union. For hundreds of them the outcome of the agreement was that they lost their jobs, while the permanents were able to go back in. When asked about the atmosphere inside the factory after the mass-beatings and whether management had any problems with discipline and angry workers who had just been brutally crushed, a union representative said: “No, there are no problems. Now that we are accepted by the management the atmosphere is better than before”. The union got a small office inside the factory, right next to the hiring office of a labour contractor. The eight to ten union reps are young workers themselves, they have worked on the machines or assembly lines for the last years. During the mobilisation they became target of company goons, they were beaten up on their way back from work. Now they do not have to work on the shop-floor anymore, for the whole time that they are elected. Being an official union rep also means to become part of a wider organisation, they attend meetings of other representatives, they learn ‘how to organize’, and maybe use internet and computers for the first time.
After the end of the lock-out the situation in the factory has changed in some details. The wages increased slightly: in october 2005 permanent workers get 8,150 Rs (unskilled) and 11,200 Rs (skilled). There is an increased medical coverage for permanent workers’ family, it became easier for workers to get a day off (e.g. in case a family member is ill). Management started to discuss workers’ related problems with union office bearers.
A union rep said in March 2006 when asked about these changes: “Things got better after the conflict: before the strike you had to inform your supervisor before going to the toilet, now there is a guy who takes over while you’re on the loo. Another example: there are about 80 to 90 women in the factory, before the strike rules were very strict (no talking to each other), after the strike it loosened up. But there are bad changes, as well. Before the lock-out the contract workers had the chance to become permanents, after the conflict this chance is scrapped. The union wants to re-install this option”. So far this did not happen. Since the recognition of the union the numbers of workers hired through contractors has increased, and so has the productivity of the plant.
Following quote shows the difficult position of the union after recognition:
“One incident took place on 2nd September, 2005, when two supervisors in the aluminium machine shop behaved with workers authoritatively and in a provocative manner as they used to do so earlier. The workers of this department reacted; some 150 of them came to the Union leaders seeking their intervention. When the Union leaders went to settle the issue with the Senior Manager concerned, he spoke angrily with the Union leaders. Workers of the whole shift stopped the work for some 15 minutes. A Union leader said: “We went to all the departments to exhort the workers to start the work; we did not want work to be interrupted. That day, most senior managers had gone to Chandigarh for some work. After they came back, the next day they all felt sorry for the incident and appreciated our
intervention in the matter…”
Another incident occurred on 9th September, 2005. The A shift in assembly achieved its target of 1000 scooters for the first time after the Union formation. Earlier, the target used to be achieved in almost every shift. Union leaders said that the targets could not be achieved for various interruptions. However, they could not satisfactorily explain why these interruptions did not affect the target achievement earlier. On hearing the target achievement that day, Vice-President of Manufacturing, along with General Manager (GM) . Production came to the shop floor during the lunch time and commended the achievement of the workers; the next day, sweets were distributed to all workers.
(MANAGEMENT CASE HONDA MOTORCYCLES AND SCOOTERS INDIA LIMITED (HMSI)* Debi S. Saini)
It is difficult to get a clear picture of the wildcat strike of workers hired through contractors in September 2006. As sources of information we have some news items >from the media (see below), some conversations with people close to the union and an article from Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar. The FMS article cannot relate to first hand experiences, it was written after conversations with people close to the Honda union. In July 2007 we had a short chat with a worker hired through contractor who took part in the strike.
“Contract workers` strike illegal: Honda
New Delhi, Sept 20: Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) on Wednesday described as “illegal” the strike by contractual workers at the company’s Manesar Plant, which entered the second day today as efforts to end the deadlock failed to yield results. Around 200 contractual workers are demanding that they be absorbed as regular workers of the company, while the HMSI management said it was not possible. “Under labour laws, a worker is entitled for regularisation only after 240 days of service. Here the strikers are those who have not even spent 100 days. How can we take them on the company’s rolls,” a company official told media persons. He said the management “has nothing to do” with the reconciliation talks. “It is between the contractors, their workers and the state labour department,” he said. Asked whether production in the factory was hit due to the strike, he claimed the output was normal. “The production is as per market plan and there is no effect due to the strike,” he said. The riot police have been deployed at the plant to prevent any outbreak of violence (The Tribune)”.
According to first hand information from people close to the union the strike was mainly instigated by ‘ring-leaders’ and ‘trouble-makers’ amongst local workers who have a link to some anti-union permanent workers and to the management. The strike was seen as an attempt to undermine the union. They described the situation as following:
“The Honda Workers Union was about to settle a first agreement with the management and it made sure that management would agree that any vacancy within the permanent work-force would have to be filled from contract workers who currently work or used to work at Honda. The Union announced a gate meeting in order to explain the agreement to all workers. Due to misunderstandings some contract workers thought that the union reps did not want to talk to them. A faction within the contract workers (apparently those who worked during the lock-out in 2005 and who allegedly are backed by the management) called A-shift contract workers into the canteen. All contract workers went, most of them thought that the action was called for by the union. The faction of contract workers then called for a strike, the contract workers followed the call. They shouted anti-union slogans, criticising that the union would not represent them. The A-shift stayed inside the plant, B and C shift remained outside. Union officials were told not to go to the gate, they would be beaten up. The union nevertheless backed the strike, made sure that water was supplied, that the canteen was working, that fainting workers would be brought to private hospitals. Outcome: the management agreed to sign a settlement which states that contract workers are not allowed to be used in core areas of production. The union want to use this in order to pressure management to regularise contract workers in core departments. But this is not fixed yet, it is about to happen. After the dispute the “provocating faction” of the contract workers was kicked out”.
There are some open questions: Why would the management instigate trouble against the union shortly after they came to an agreement with the union? How could a small group of ‘trouble-makers’ make 700 workers stay on strike for several days inside the plant and make the other two shifts support them from the outside? Similar questions are raised in the following article:
Plot 1, Sector-3, Manesar, Gurgaon – Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI). The Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon congratulated the union, the labour commissioner and the deputy labour commissioner for a signed three years agreement.
On Monday, the 18th of September the union talked to an assembly of workers about the agreement. When workers hired through contractors and apprentices started to raise questions the leaders replied that the assembly was over because the company had only given one and a half hours for the meeting and two hours already passed and that therefore the matter should be talked about later.
On Tuesday, the 19th of September, the workers hired through contractors and the apprentices who arrived for the A-shift sat down in the canteen. The union leaders did not dare to talk to the workers who were ready to attack them physically. The company locked the canteen from the outside, cut the water supply and the electricity connection. If it had been possible for the company they would have reduced the rebellious workers to ashes (like Shiva).
Honda company had locked the A-shift workers inside, but their work-mates of the B and C-shift were outside. Newspaper and TV reporters who had tactically forgotten the trouble of the 25th of July 2005 were reminded of it by workers. They arrived at the factory hunting for news. The company refused the newspaper and TV people entry to the factory and said that it was an issue involving 150 workers. Over mobile phones the locked in workers said that the number was 1,200 to 1,500 workers. According to the union about 700 were inside. Seeing trouble to come the company opened the doors to the canteen. The workers kept on sitting in the canteen. On the 19th of September the company refused workers hired through contractors and apprentices of the B and C-shift entry to the factory. The B and C-shift workers who were gathered at the factory gate started to shout slogans.
The sly labour officers who had displayed their happiness over the agreement got cold feet. The labour commissioner from Chandigar arrived at the Honda factory on the 20th of September. Inside the factory the sahib found neither representatives of the company nor from the union! The rebellious workers who had stopped production and stayed inside talked to the labour commissioner for four hours and came to the conclusion that this sahib had come in order to check the current conditions of the workers so that the he can inform the company about the current state of affairs.
The DC of Gurgaon declared the situation as normal and ordered the police inside the Honda factory. In order to bring those workers who had fainted out of hunger to the hospital, the DC gave the instruction to place a public ambulance inside the factory.
On the 22nd of September the court declared the workers’ resistance as illegal and gave the order to police and administration to kick the workers out of the factory. He also ordered that the gate keepers should make sure that the workers kept in a 300 metres distance away from the factory premises. After the order had been ignored he repeated it on the 23th of September.
After the union has proved to be worthless some union supporter worked hard in order to check the mood amongst the workers, to transfigure information and to sniff out and isolate the ‘trouble makers’. On the 24th of September the revolt was cooled down.
Our greetings go out to those young workers who arrived at the Honda factory equipped with their experiences of having worked here and there for a short time and who started the revolt there!
Last year there were 1,200 permanent, 1,600 trainees, 1,000 workers hired through contractors and 400 apprentices employed at Honda HMSI. Today there are 1,600 permanents, 500 to 600 trainees and 2,000 workers hired through contractors and apprentices together. According to a worker last year the main problem at Honda factory was the enormous workload. At the present the company-union three years agreement increased the wages of the permanents and introduced an incentive scheme, in order to double production. According to an experienced worker from Goodyear Tyre, new workers trapped by the incentive scheme loose their minds and become like ants sticking to raw sugar-molasses. During the revolt at the Honda factory the permanent workers kept on working.
Less than a month after the strike the union and HMSI signed a pledge.
HMSI signs pact with labour union
(October 2006, India Infoline)
“We at Honda believe that the mutual trust and respect between the management and the union will become stronger in the years to come,” said Yukihiro Aoshima, President and CEO, HMSI. “We are currently producing 1.2mn vehicles per year and we hope that with the co-operation of the workers we will be successful in increasing our rate of growth in the years to come and give our workers a brighter future.” Suresh Gaur, President, Labour Union, HMSI: “Union is a representation of the workers and we always work towards solving their problems and improving their standards of living,”. “This pledge is a symbol of renewed dedication and commitment from both the management and the workers. We hope that the management and the union can work together to create new benchmarks in Industrial Relations and take the company to new heights.”
Although it might be unlikely that the wildcat strike was a mere deed of management-friendly ‘trouble-makers’, the HMSI factory nevertheless is still a battle-field of different political interests, with middle-men trying to instrumentalise workers for their political aims. In June 2007 a fight took place between workers inside the factory. One ‘local’ worker had to be taken to hospital, but was discharged on the same day. We have no first hand info about the seriousness of his injuries, but a Honda worker asked in July 2007 told us that he is still not able to work. The group of ‘local workers’ allegedly backed by the management filed a case against the main union leaders, who were charged with attempted murder. The HMSI management reacted by suspending the union leaders, who had to go underground for some time. In August 2007 they still remain suspended. There is not much use in speculating about the motives of the management. After the agreement there have been only minor conflicts about flies in the canteen food and the bus service. Usually the management is happy if the union takes care of solving such conflicts ‘in an official manner’ (representing it, writing a complaint etc.), instead of letting these conflicts boil amongst workers where they might become a trigger for bigger trouble (see question of canteen food during the strike at Shivam Autotech, newsletter no.5). On one hand the ‘fight amongst workers’ became public and the management had to confirm its authority inside the plant by taking measures. If the management had wanted to use the incident to ‘crush the union’ it would have sacked the leaders instead of suspending them. On the other hand the management must have known that by suspending the main union leaders it will create further tensions, as the following article makes clear.
As union tension worsens, Honda awaits internal report
(19th of July 2007, Indian Express)
The prevailing unrest at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in Gurgaon is heading towards a deadlock with the management and the workers’ union sticking to their guns.
“We want peace on the factory floor but when violence occurs, we have to act. We are forced to take the union head on and though the quarrel was between union members, we had to intervene to maintain security,” said Harbhajan Singh, AGM (industrial relations), HMSI.
All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) played down the incident claiming it was just a scuffle. “The victim has filed an affidavit for withdrawal of the FIR and the matter has been amicably settled. The management should now withdraw the suspension orders to maintain peace and tranquillity in the plant,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary, AITUC, to which HMSI union is affiliated.
Masayuki Kato, director (general affairs), HMSI: “We are now quite clear that the enquiry would be conducted till a logical conclusion is reached and the government should not intervene as it is an internal matter. Unless the seven workers give a written assurance that there would be no further violence in the plant, the suspension order would not be revoked.” Written assurance, for the union, is a no-no. “We are not interested in giving something in writing as there is no need for it,” Dasgupta said. “The problem was between the workers which has been resolved.”
In August 2007 the suspensions of the union leaders were withdrawn by the HMSI management. We assume that the quarrel between management and union leadership is not of much direct importance for most of the shop-floor workers, particularly for those hired through a contractor. They have their own problems. We tried to get some information about the ‘fight/incident’ from a worker’s perspective, but the young worker hired through contractor we talked to had already been ‘given a break’ (kicked out after six months) when the mentioned trouble started. He said about the situation inside the factory:
“There are huge numbers of workers hired through contractors in the HMSI factory. In production about 3,000 workers are hired through two different contractors, there are 200 cleaning workers, 100 canteen workers, more than 50 security guards, 40 drivers for the management, 150 drivers for the buses and cars of the work-force, all hired through contractors. Nowadays HMSI does not keep any trainees and the permanent workers do (only) the essential work. In production most of the work is done by workers hired through contractors. All of us have ITI, but inside the factory they do not give us work according to our trade. After six months of employment they give you an eight months break. Working here reduces as to good for nothings, but we are forced to continue working here. During the last months the contractor has engaged people in order to control and supervise us, in the Scooter plant alone there are ten of them. If they see you sitting down they will snatch away your company ID card and you will be kicked out. One is always in fear because of that.
At Honda our wage is 3,249 Rs, of this sum 1,000 Rs are deducted for whatever reason and 775 RS are added as a bonus for complete attendance. The work in the factory puts a lot of pressure on you, but eager for the attendance bonus we rarely take a day off. In the S-department we work in the heat the whole day. And in the paint shop, the machine shop, the weld shop there are 70 to 100 hours over time each month – the over time is paid at double rate so the burden of work comes together with ‘desire’ (to get the double payment).
In the Honda factory 390 to 400 Rs from our wage is cut for ESI and PF. On the pay-slip of some of us the PF number shows on the pay-slip of others it does not. About the PF there is a full swindle going on – after the big contractor collected a huge amount of money allegedly in the name of a school in Delhi he managed to forge things in a way that 95 percent of the workers who were employed at Honda could not receive their PF money after they got their break “.
(Hindi version in: FMS 229, July 2007)
“Police Attack on Honda Workers” – Workers’ Solidarity, 2005
“On the Wings of Evil” – Citizens’ Committee Enquiry Report
3) According to Plan -
General information on the development of the region or on certain company policies
*** “Not yet special enough: Special Economic Zones, Part Four” -
Short note on farmers threatening to commit suicide against land aquisition and short article on factory closures in Noida, possibly related to the re-concentration of capital in the Gurgaon, Manesar area
After several road blockades and protest meetings the local farmers keep on fighting for better financial compensation for their land, seemingly by all means, necessary or not…
Farmers threat with suicide against SEZ
(Gurgaon, 17th of June 2007)
The local farmers’ institution failed to postpone the decision on land acquisition in seven villages in and around Gurgaon, land for the planned SEZ. The affected seven villages are Pukharpur, Saharawan, Fazilwas, Kukrola, Mokalwas, Kharkhari and Baaslambi. The developments did have a fair dose of melodrama. After the authorities did not listen to the farmers’ demand, a resident of Makrola village tried to commit suicide by strangling himself. The police took him into custody. A group of women tried to surround the deputy commissioner when he arrived at the venue. A group of persons apparently hijacked the proceedings of the mahapanchayat demanding that the deputy commissioner should come to the venue to accept the memorandum, failing which some of the participants would commit suicide.
The re-concentration of capital in the Gurgaon/Manesar area seems to have ripple effects in other industrial areas of the wider Delhi region…
Noida: 3,000 small units shut down
Gautam Budh Nagar and Noida no longer seem to attract small-scale industrial units, over 3,000 of these have been forced to close down. As per the official figure, over 3,100 SSI units have ground to a halt recently. A few years ago, all entrepreneurs were keen to set up small-scale industries as attractive terms and incentives were being offered. At its height there were more than 8,800 small-scale industrial units on the go there. But due to some restrictions and other negative factors, the number has now come down to about 5,700. The owners of small units gradually realised that they could not survive in the face of stiff competition from bigger and more prosperous companies. A few industrialists had decided to relocate to other places. According to sources, electronics and steel goods and packaging units were prominent among the SSI units, which have closed down. Some people had decided to relocate their units to other states to avail better facilities and incentives being offered there. The multinational companies had jeopardised the survival of electronics units.
(4th of July 2007)
“Corporate Watch” -
This month with news items on: Caparo, DLF, Lockheed Martin, Uppal/Luxor Group (SEZ)
*** 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.
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, or 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 = 39 Rs (October 2007)
1 Euro = 56 Rs (October 2007)
Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation
Industrial training, e.g. as electrician or mechanic. Two years of (technical school), one year of apprenticeship 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 where ‘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 prove 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 enables 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 to two-year contract. Depending on the company, they are sometimes 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 into 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 from 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.