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Victims of the organ trade – Gurgaon kidney business

Gurgaon Workers News – Newsletter 9 (February 2008)

Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of capitalist success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. At a first glance the office towers and shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the facades of the garment factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the middle-classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young 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; on the outskirts of Gurgaon, Asia’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 know more about working and struggling in Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project, please do so via:

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

In the Febuary issue you can find:

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

*** Mass Redundancies in the Gurgaon Textile Export Sector -
In late autumn 2007 tens of thousands of garment workers in Gurgaon were sacked. The textile exports to the US slackened, partly due to the relatively strong Rupee. In Gurgaon the paradox of capitalist boom and crisis is obvious. Private developers like DLF and Reliance thrive on the industrial and stock-market-boom, attracting billions of Rupees from international finance capital flows and thereby increasing the value of the Rupee. With the capital they attract these companies are heavily involved in setting up the Special Economic Zone in Gurgaon, of which the Textile Export Park is of major importance. Their boom, the increased value of the Rupee, is at the same time part of the reason for the slump in textile exports, a sector these very companies want to boost. All this would be a mediocre math game, if it were not about the resulting misery of thousands of working class families, e.g. like those of the Fashion Express workers (see update in this issue). Attached are several short reports from textile workers in Gurgaon, told to friends from FMS in September 2007. It becomes obvious that the economic cycle of the textile sector does not allow these workers to build up the upward pressure on wages like workers in the local metal and automobile industries currently do (see reports on several spontaneous actions to enforce the payment of the new minimum wage in this issue).

*** Thoughts on Gurgaon Kidney Trade and the local Medical-Industrial Complex, January 2007 -
Mid-January 2008 the media reported on a private clinic in Gurgaon that during the last eight to nine years has removed about 500 kidneys, mainly from migrant workers, for the global organ trade. Most of these workers are very likely to be dead by now. This ‘scandal’ is just one public secret side of the capitalist drive to open new markets by opening bodies, be it as source or receivers of ‘new’ commodities: organs, stem cells, drugs, fertility treatment, abortions, surgery services. In Gurgaon the general ‘body shop’ is yet another boom sector. If you have a look at the specific industrial composition in Gurgaon you will notice that Gurgaon is an eldorado for bio-technology and the extension of the body market: a constant supply of desperate and cheap bodies from the poor parts of India (or from recently sacked garment workers?!), dozens of private clinics and medical institutions, dozens of pharmaceutical laboratories of major international companies, state subsidies for ‘clean industries’, a rich career-orientated upper middle-class in need of medical treatment or adjusmtment, a pleasant (medical-)’tourism infrastructure’, well established (transport-)links to international markets, a mafia-type collaboration between state and private sector. In Gurgaon the capitalist production process consumes bodies on a daily basis, without producing media worthy ‘scandals’. On a daily basis poor labourers are mutilated and die in factories, on construction sites, on the way to or from work. Their injuries and deaths are often covered by the very same mechanisms that made the ‘kidney trade scandal’ possible: victims of industrial accidents are brought to company-friendly doctors, the official administrations turn a blind eye, the victims are victimised once more (see the report on industrial accidents in newsletter #7). First we briefly summarise the facts on the ‘kidney scandal’ and then consider some questions concerning the systemic and ‘unscandalous’ elements behind it, and conclude with a brief over-view of the medical-industrial complex in Gurgaon.

*** Short news item on police raids against ‘illegal’ migrant workers in Gurgaon, December 2007 -
In Gurgaon Workers News #8 we already covered the issue of an increasing safety paranoia of the local upper middle classes in Gurgaon. Against the background of the ‘kidney scandal’ the public (meaning ruling class!) opinion tries to turn the ‘dangerous classes’ (the moving proletariat!) either into helpless victims or individual punishable culprits. Given the involvement of the police in both anti-workers attacks – the collaboration with the kidney mafia and the raids against migrant workers – the only solution is the strengthening of mutual aid within the proletarian communities.

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

*** Workers’ spontaneous actions enforce the payment of minimum wage in several factories, September 2007 -
In summer 2007 the Haryana government raised the minimum wage from a monthly 2,540 Rs to now 3,510 Rs. Most of the industrial workers did not get the minimum wage in the first place, but the government’s move seems to be an anticipation of the general anger and despair amongst the workers. Friends from Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar (FMS) collected various stories from factory workers in the area. They reported that a lot of companies try to make people sign a pay slip showing the new minimum wage while actually paying the old one. They also told us that in several factories workers refused the lower wage, organised spontaneous strikes and thereby enforced payment of the official minimum wage. Their actions show that the question of minimum wages is not a legal one, but is about immediate power relations. While the workers in the booming automobile sector managed to put pressure on the companies, their brothers and sisters in the textile sector face massive attacks at the same time. The stories are told by workers from: Maharaani Paints, Senden Vikas, Punit Udyog, Pepsi, Shyam Elanyaz, Talbros, Ahuja Plastics.

*** Up-date on Fashion Express Factory Conflict -
In Gurgaon Workers News #3 (May 2007) we reported about a factory occupation and union conflict at Gurgaon based Fashion Express. Most workers have been working for 12-16 years at the same factory. The factory manufactures womens’ garments (primarily t-shirts, blouses etc). In autumn 2007 the management decided to close down the factory. Wages were not paid. A friend sent a short update in September 2007: “Workers are also facing a lot of financial difficulties since they have not been paid in recent months. Their children have already been thrown out of school once due to non-payment of school fees. After the payment of 50 per cent of the July wages, many children have rejoined school but now the workers are facing the same problem again. We have a list of the workers and the amount of school fees each one needs to pay. The total comes to nearly 34,000″. By the end of 2007 all permanent workers at Fashion Express Udyog Vihar Factory lost their jobs, up to now the issue of compensation or severance pay is not settled.

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 Six -
– Summary on recent news items on the developing SEZ in Gurgaon
The government considers abolishing the 5,000 hectare limit for SEZs and crisis-ridden Citibank internationalises their debt-disaster by investing in various IT SEZs in the Gurgaon and Faridabad areas.

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

*** Mass Redundancies in Gurgaon Textile Export Sector -
First we provide a short over-view of the Indian textile and garment sector and its significance for the economy in Gurgaon. In the second part there is a short report on the mass redundancies of textile workers in Gurgaon which took place in autumn 2007. Attached are several short reports from textile workers in Gurgaon, told to friends from FMS in September 2007. It becomes obvious that the current economic cycle of the textile sector does not allow these workers to build up the upward pressure on wages like those in the local metal and automobile industries (see reports on several spontaneous actions to enforce the payment of the new minimum wage in this issue).

The Textile and Clothing Industry in India

About 40 Million workers are employed in the Indian Textile sector – about 40 Million more people work in the cotton and raw material production. In terms of numbers of people employed it is still the most important sector after agriculture. In value terms the importance for the national economy is relatively low, it contributes about five to seven per cent to the GDP. Export is the main dynamic element of the sector, about 41 per cent of the general turn-over comes from export. In 2006 – 07 the export turn-over was 19 billion USD, this is about 20 per cent of India’s total export turn-over. In comparison: the Indian IT industry ‘exported’ commodities and services worth 15 billion, but only one million people were employed in the sector. India’s exports depend less on textile compared, e.g. to Bangladesh, where 70 per cent of the national exports are related to the textile sector. Initially the global re-adjustment of the textile trade in 2005 – textile import quotas in Europe and the US were partly abolished – worked in favour of the textile industry in India, while the textile industry in other countries went down the drain: Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, Spain, Greece etc.. The share of Indian textiles exported to the US is still only about 10 per cent, lagging behind China and Hong Kong. The global textile market overflows with cheap textiles, wages are squeezed, capital locates from one ‘low wage country’ to the next, sparking off new aspirations and revolts of a new local working class wherever it invests in new industries. In the north of India the average monthly wage of a textile worker is around 50 to 60 USD, while in Bangladesh the last workers uprisings were about enforcing a minimum wage of about 45 USD. In China the wages are higher, the main productivity drive derives from intensive use of machinery. It becomes more than obvious that ‘national competition’ cannot be a solution for workers: gaining market shares by lowering wages further would result in slow starvation while productivity increase by using more machinery would cause the same effect due to mass redundancies. The volatile situation becomes clear in autumn 2007 when a minor increase in the value of the Rupee compared to the USD caused mass redundancies in one of the textile export hubs, in Gurgaon.

The Textile and Garment Industry in Gurgaon

About a quarter of the Indian clothes manufactured for export come from Gurgaon, another quarter from nearby Okhla and Faridabad. In Udyog Vihar Phase I we find a high concentration of textile factories, about 100 of them with an average of 400 to 500 workers employed. The total number of textile factories in Gurgaon is about 350. There are huge factories, like those of Orient Craft or House of Pearls, where 4,000 to 10,000 workers are exploited under one roof. Orient Craft alone employs more than 70,000 workers in Gurgaon. According to a source dated from 2005 Orient Craft sells a shirt for about four USD to buyers from the US, the shirt then makes 45 USD on the US market. If you take a stroll through the industrial areas you find a lot of ‘Vacancies for skilled/unskilled workers’-signs on the front factory gates. The attrition rate is high, particularly the skilled workers were used to be able to find jobs rather easily, their wages are relatively high compared to other industrial workers, between 4,000 and 5,000 Rupees per month. The working hours are disastrous, seven days per week, 12 to 14 hours a day. The ‘higher’ monthly wages have to be seen against the background of the total annual employment: employment is unstable, people take on work and quit, get hired and fired. A most recent example is the wave of dismissals in autumn 2007.

Mass Redundancies in the Gurgaon Textile Sector, Autumn 2007

According to media reports a lot of textile companies in Gurgaon decided in October 2007 to force their workers to take an unpaid 40 days leave and to sack those workers who they had hired through contractors. About 70,000 workers are said to have been affected. The reason given for the mass redundancies is the rising value of the Rupee, whose value has increased by 12 per cent relative to the USD in 2007. Most of the textile exports go to the US, sales have now cooled down because of the strong Rupee. For example, Modelama has closed down one of their six factories in Gurgaon for the time being, about 1,000 workers have been suspended. Orient Craft, which exports 80 per cent of all manufactured goods to the US, has sacked 3,000 workers. A lot of the migrant workers were forced to take their children out of school and send them back to the ‘village’. Other buyers reported that they outsourced and re-located certain orders to China, Indoniesia, Vietnam or Bangladesh. Currencies in Pakistan and Bangladesh devalued slightly in 2007, but the ‘temporary competition advantage’ does not result in appeasing local workers, see links on recent struggles in Bangladeshi Textile Export Zones below.
In Gurgaon the paradox of capitalist boom and crisis is obvious. Private developers like DLF and Reliance thrive on the industrial and stock-market-boom, attracting billions of Rupees from international finance capital flows and thereby increasing the value of the Rupee. With the capital they attract these companies are heavily involved in setting up the Special Economic Zone in Gurgaon, of which the Textile Export Park is of major importance. Their boom, the increased value of the Rupee, is at the same time part of the reason for the slump in textile exports, a sector these very companies want to boost. All this would be a mediocre math game, if it were not about the resulting misery of thousands of working class families, e.g. like those of the Fashion Express workers (see update in this issue)

Link to February Report on textile workers struggles in Bangladesh:

http://libcom.org/news/bangladeshi-garment-worker-murdered-bosses-other-developments-03022008

Kaprikon Apparels Worker
(B-14, Sector 34, Gurgaon)
The wage of the helpers amongst the 50 workers hired through the company is 2,250 Rs. ESI and PF is cut from this wage. The helpers hired through contractors get 2,000 Rs, the skilled workers are on piece work. They get neither ESI nor PF. The wages are delayed: On 31st of August the July wages had still not been paid.

Kracha Global Worker
(Plot 192, 193, 232, 239 / Udyog Vihar Phase I, Gurgaon)
The minimum wage is not paid in the factory. The hepers get 2,500 Rs, the skilled workers 2,900 Rs, the contract cuts 200-300 Rs each month. In the factory on plot 192 the bosses abuse workers. In the factory on plot 232 the night-shift is bad, from 7 pm to 3 am… at the moment there is not much work, so there is also little over-time. From October to April the shifts in the production department are from 9 am to 6:30 pm, 8:30 pm, even 10 pm. During the times of shipment we work 24 hours a day.

Kalamkari Exorts Worker
(Plot 280, Undyog Vihar Phas II, Gurgaon)
There are 300 workers hired through two different contractors, the helpers’ wage for July was 1,800 to 2,200 Rs, the skilled taylors get 120 Rs daily wage. The company first put up a list with the new minimum wage, but then took it down again. In the canteen a sign says that the chai is 3 Rs, but acually you have to pay 4 Rs.

Vibha Global Worker
(Plot 413, Udyog Vihar Phase III, Gurgaon)
There are four different contractors, in total 350 workers. The helpers get 2,200 Rs, neither PF nor ESI.

Magson Export Worker
(Plot 41, Udyog Vihar Phase IV, Gurgaon)
There used to be 700 workers. As there is little work, people got the sack, now 300 are left, but only 100 workers are mentioned in the PF and ESI record. The July wage for helpers was 2,500 Rs.

Earl Global Worker
(Plot 870, Udyog Vihar V, Gurgaon)
The factory was closed on 15th of August. 4,000 workers used to be employed, Before the closure they gave a pay slip, but they gave no money for August. The skilled taylors were initially told that they would get 4,000 Rs, but actually they got 2,850 Rs.

Gaurav International Worker
(Plot 151, 193,198,208,225,236,506, … Udyog Vihar Phase I, Gurgaon)
In the 18 factories of the company in Gurgaon workers are paid between 2,500 and 2,900 Rs, instead of the new minimum wage.

The same is true for the following other textile companies:

WNTex (Plot 301, Udyog Vihar Phase II) 700 workers
Sadu International (Plot 321, Udyog Vihar Phase V) 200 workers
Modelama Exports (Plot 184, 20, 201, Uog Vihar Phase I)
Mona Design (Plot 146, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Bharat Enterprise (Plot 189, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
Mohan Clothing (Plot 76, Udyog Vihar Phase I)

*** Thoughts on the Gurgaon Kidney Trade and the Medical-Industrial Complex -

During the last two years Gurgaon appeared in the international news twice. First in June 2007 when 30 female aborted fetuses were found in a drain near a private clinic. In January 2008 when it became public that a Gurgaon clinic had removed the kidneys of 500 migrant workers for the global organ trade. The fact that both news fit the media’s need for commerciable ‘scandals’nmight explain the sudden public interest. But what lies behind the scandal? We first briefly summarise the facts on the ‘kidney scandal’ and then consider some questions concerning the systemic and ‘unscandalous’ elements behind it.

The Kidney Scandal

Mid-January 2008 the media reports about a private clinic in Gurgaon which had, during the last eight to nine years, removed about 500 kidneys from mainly migrant workers for the global organ trade. Most of these workers are very likely to be dead by now. The private clinic was part of a wider web of local clinics, guest houses, international links and good relations to the police. The clinic is situated in DLF Phase I D-5/29, part of a privately developed town-ship. One piece of evidence for the involvement of the police is the fact that already in 1994 the main manager/doctor of the clinic was known to the police as being engaged in organ deals. In 2000 the police officially shut down the clinic in Gurgaon, but business continued anyway. The clients are rich and international, e.g. from Greece, Australia, USA, Dubai. The victims are farmers, day labourers, building workers from Bihar, Uttar and Andrha Pradesh, the usual origins for industrial workers in Delhi’s industrial belt. They said that they needed the money to pay off farming debts or to pay dowries or simply to sustain their families. These workers were picked up from street corners, where day labourers are usually picked up for jobs. They were offered ‘a job’ and then brought to the clinic. Some of the workers said that they were threatened with violence and death and forced at gun point to give their kidneys. According to media sources the workers were given around 40,000 Rs for their kidney, while the clinic then sold it for 400,000 to 2,000,000 Rs. After a worker went to the police, the clinic was raided, but the main manager must have been warned, as he was able to flee. Just ten days before, Gurgaon police had conducted raids to expose an international kidney transplant racket. It had given the green light to the passport office to give the alleged main manager a duplicate copy of a “lost” passport.
All captured ‘clients’ were allowed to leave India without further investigations. After the scandal the victims are now under threat to have ‘broken the law’, because organ donation in India is only allowed amongst blood relatives. The government now wants to use the ‘scandal’ to liberalise the organ trade. It uses the usual arguments: if we do not allow organ trade, there will be a black market and things like in Gurgaon will continue to happen. This ‘scandal’ is just one side of the capitalist drive to open new markets by opening bodies, be it as source or receivers of ‘new’ commodities. In Gurgaon the general ‘body shop’ is yet another boom sector.

The Medical-Industrial Complex

If you have a look at the specific industrial composition in Gurgaon you will notice that Gurgaon is an eldorado for bio-technology and the extension of the body market: a constant supply of desperate and cheap bodies from the poor parts of India, dozens of private clinics and medical institutions, dozens of pharmaceutical laboratories of major international companies, a rich career-orientated upper middle-class in need of medical treatment, a pleasant ‘tourism infrastructure’, well-established (transport)links to international markets, mafia-type collaboration between the state and the private sector. In the following, a few examples of how medical-industrial complex is developing in Gurgaon:

Ranbaxy
Ranbaxy is India’s biggest pharmaceutical company with a huge research centre in Gurgaon. Recently the company started to collaborate with another pharma-multi GlaxoSmithKline. “Analysts say the move reflects a growing desire on the part of major pharmaceutical companies to tap into India’s skills base and also benefit from the lower operating costs in the country. Under a previous alliance agreed in 2003, Ranbaxy carried out early stage chemical tests to take drug leads Glaxo is developing to the stage of candidate selection. Ranbaxy will now take drug candidates to the second stage, or phase II clinical trials, and will also retain the right to co-commercialise the products developed in India. Developing new drugs in India is much cheaper, as the country has a large, inexpensive pool of biotech talent.

(The Independent (London), Feb 7, 2007)

Health battle in Gurgaon
In August this year, when Fortis laid the foundation stone for its multi-superspecialty flagship hospital Fortis Healthcity in Gurgaon, it marked the entrance of another enemy in the already cluttered warzone. With the Apollo Tyre Group-promoted Artemis Health Institute and Max Hospital within a one kilometre radius and Naresh Trehan’s ambitious Medicity under construction in the vicinity, Gurgaon is preparing for a battle of sorts between some of the largest healthcare delivery players in the country.

(Radhieka Pandeya / New Delhi November 13, 2007)

Global Health Private Ltd., MediCity, is currently developing a four-million-square-foot, 40-acre facility in Gurgaon, India. This institution, backed by clinical and biotechnology research, will yield medical care to the growing middle class in India. This partnership will facilitate collaborative efforts to enhance healthcare delivery while providing international experience for students. “These Indian companies are unique partners for the University of Utah,” Brittain says. “Their leaders are innovative and eager to bring new medical technologies to their community. Partnering with Indian companies will allow the University to benefit from their expertise and willingness to engage in collaborative research and development. Through this alliance we will be able to accelerate commercialization of University technologies and provide economic benefits to both the United States and India.”
(Economic Times, October 14, 2007)

INC
Triangle clinical research organization INC Research said Thursday it has teamed up with GVK Biosciences in a joint venture to offer clinical trial services in India. Gurgaon, India-based GVK and INC Research have agreed to equal shares in a collaboration that will offer full-service, phase I-IV clinical trials in India for both pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers.

(Financial Express, 24th of March 2007)

Agilent to set up life sciences facility
Agilent Technologies India will concentrate on life sciences and clinical analysis in the state on the back of fast growing pharma and life sciences companies. Agilent Technologies, which will be setting up its first manufacturing facility by 2009 in India at Manesar near Gurgaon, provides measurement sciences in the electronic and bio-analyticals sectors.

(BS Reporter / Mumbai/ Ahmedabad November 06, 2007)

The Daily Scandal

The capitalist production process in Gurgaon consumes bodies on a daily basis, without producing media-worthy ‘scandals’. On a daily basis poor labourers die in factories, on construction sites, on the way to or from work. Their deaths are often covered by the very same mechanisms which made the ‘kidney trade scandal’ possible: victims of industrial accidents are brought to company-friendly doctors, the official administrations turn a blind eye, the victims are victimised once more (see report on industrial accident in newsletter #7). The boundaries between selling body(parts), risking your life on the job and selling your labour power become blurry – once selling your labour power means working 12 to 14 hours daily for a wage which hardly allows you to reproduce the lost energy. The media likes to emphasise that the labourers were ‘forced at gun point’ to have their bodies been ripped open. This is due not only to the media’s eagerness for violent stories. It is also a way to avoid the question why people might have to chose one form of self-destruction – selling body parts – over another form of self-destruction – industrial wage labour.

***Short news item on police raids against ‘illegal’ migrant workers in Gurgaon, December 2007

In Gurgaon Workers News #8 we already covered the issue of an increasing safety paranoia of the local upper middle classes in Gurgaon. Against the background of the ‘kidney scandal’ the public (meaning ruling class!) opinion tries to turn the ‘dangerous classes’ (the moving proletariat) either into helpless victims or individual culprits. The following is a summary of a newspaper article on the raids in December 2007.

Gurgaon: Drive to identify illegal migrants
Gurgaon, December 27: The Gurgaon police today launched a drive in the suburb slums to identify illegal migrants. “The raids were conducted after a rise in crime cases in the slums of Sheetla Colony near Sector 14, Ashok Vihar Phase III and Devilal Colony,” said Gurgaon city SHO Surender Singh.
Illegal migrants are a menace in Gurgaon city, Singh said. “As the numbers of illegal migrants rise, the crime rate in slums also rises,” he added. Over 250 labourers were called at Sector-5 Police Station for verification. Although most had residence proof from India, the SHO said further interrogation would be carried out to find out illegal migrants. According to preliminary investigations, there were 149 labourers from Madhya Pradesh, 31 from Uttar Pradesh, 12 from Assam and 13 from West Bengal. The raids are to continue all over the city for the next week. At the police station, the labourers are asked for their residential details. Along with the addresses, the police will send a photograph of the person by post to the said village or town. According to Singh, Gurgaon is an ideal destination for most illegal migrants as they get plenty of work as semi-skilled or unskilled labour on the construction sites.

(Express News Service : Posted online, Friday , December 28, 2007)

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

*** Workers’ spontaneous actions enforce the payment of minimum wage in several factories, September 2007

In summer 2007 the Haryana government raised the minimum wage from a monthly 2,540 Rs to now 3,510 Rs. Most of the industrial workers did not get the minimum wage in the first place, but the government’s move seems to be an anticipation of the general anger and despair amongst the workers. Friends from Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar (FMS) collected various stories from factory workers in the area. They reported that a lot of companies try to make people sign a pay slip showing the new minimum wage while actually paying the old one. They also told us that in several factories workers refused the lower wage, organised spontaneous strikes and thereby enforced payment of the official minimum wage. Their actions show that the question of minimum wages is not a legal one, but is about immediate power relations. While the workers in the booming automobile sector managed to put pressure on the companies, their brothers and sisters in the textile sector face massive attacks at the same time. The stories are told by workers from: Maharaani Paints, Senden Vikas, Punit Udyog, Pepsi, Shyam Elanyaz, Talbros, Ahuja Plastics.
(All stories have been published in Hindi in: FMS 231, September 2007)

Mahaarani Paints Worker
(Plot 242, Sector 24, Faridabad)
On August 7th, the time when the payment of the July wages was due, the management wanted us to sign two different pay slips: One showing the new minimum wage of 3,510 Rs, the other 2,554 Rs. We were actually given the lower wage. One or two workers took the money, but the rest of us sat down and stopped working. An hour later the general manager arrived and told us that we would be given 3,510. This then happened on the 9th of August.

Mahaarani Paints Worker
(another factory, Plot 343-344, Sector 24, Faridabad)
On August 7th the July wage was paid: 2,540 Rs. Two or three people took the money, but us workers hired through contractors forbade all workers to take the money and we stopped working. We had got to know about the action of the workers in the factory Plot 242. Due to us laying down tools the production in the factory came to a stand-still. The permanent workers re-organised in a union and the union leader went to the general manager. The boss then talked to the chairman-managing director Baldev Raj Bhatiya. According to the order of the big boss a new pay slip was handed out and on August 9th we were paid 3,510 Rs.

Senden Vikas Worker
(Plot 65, Sector 27a, Faridabad)
The contractor made us sign a wage slip for 3,510 Rs but actually wanted to pay 2,500 Rs. We refused to take the money. As a result, the contractor paid 3,510 Rs as a wage for July on the 9th and 10th of August. In the factory 70 permanent workers and 250 workers hired through three different contractors manufacture 25,000 airconditioning systems per month for the automobile industry. The workers hired through contractors work 150 to 200 hours over-time each month. Their over-time is paid at the single rate (which is illegal in two senses: too many hours over-time, and single instead of double pay). The wage ofpermanent workers is 8,000 to 18,000 Rs per month, but no-one has been made permanent for the last 15 years. The hose and pipe department of the factory is a space of the ill: the department is on the third floor, but there are no windows or doors, just a staircase. All workers are ill because of the bad air. The management has talked about installing windows several times, but no-one believes them anymore. Half of the work-force is employed in this department.

Punit Udyog Worker
(Plot 37e, Sector 6, Faridabad)
The plant manufactures soap. So far, on the 22nd of August, the helpers have not taken the July wage yet. The company wanted to pay only 2,554 Rs instead of 3,5120 Rs.

Pepsi Driver
(Plot 27, Sector 24)
Pepsi company employs 54 helpers and drivers through contractors. We were made to sign the July wages showing 3,510 Rs, but actually they gave us 2,500 Rs. In order to act against this, today on the 22nd of August, we are all prepared to take extra holidays together.

Shyam Elanyaz Worker
(Plot 40, Sector 6, Faridabad)
When the company paid 2,500 for July wages, 50 casual workers demanded 3,510 Rs. “If you cannot pay, we cannot work”. On the 9th of August at 3 pm, the time when wages are paid, the casual workers stopped working. The workers sat down inside the factory until the end of the shift at 5 pm. On the 10th at 8:30 am we were stopped from entering the factory and sat down in front of the gate. At Shyam Elanyaz 40 permanents, 100 workes hired through contractors and 100 workers on piece rate are employed. Three of the permanent workers act as contractors, one of them is a union leader. At the gate, 15 casual workers were lured and their resolve broken so that they accepted the pay slip, 15 more entered the factory after they were promised an extra payment of 100 to 200 Rs. Nevertheless, 20 casuals remained in front of the gate until the evening and said that the following day they would go to the office of the DC.

Talbros Worker
(Plot 75, Sector 6, Faridabad)
On the 10th of August wages were due. The helper got 2,000 Rs, they stopped working and demanded 3,510 Rs. The helpers went on strike from the 10th of August to the 22nd of August. On the 16th of August the police entered the factory and left with the bosses. The labour department was given the following information by the company: the 190 helpers are not employed at Talbros factory. The labour department and the company have brotherly ties… 190 workers were sacked. The company runs two 12-hours shifts and hired new helpers. They were told that they would get 3,510 Rs per month for a 12-hour shift, 30 days per month.

Ahuja Plastics Worker
(Plot 20a, Industrial Area, Faridabad)
The male workers started a strike on June 5th, demanding a pay hike of 300 Rs. The female workers wanted to lay down tools too, but we told them not to giving following reason: we will find any other job anywhere, but they would have difficulties. When the director refused to increase the wage even by 200 Rs we started working again on the 9th of August. We were forced to write that we had taken days off without having given notice.

*** Up-date on Fashion Express Factory Conflict -

In Gurgaon Workers News #3 (May 2007) we reported on a factory occupation and union conflict at Gurgaon based Fashion Express. The following is a short up-date sent by a friend.

Fashion Express
Plot No. 100 Udyog Vihar Phase I
Gurgaon, Haryana

Most workers have been working for 12-16 years at the same factory. There were 50 workers employed through contractors, but they were sacked during the summer. 99 permanent workers remained, 47 of them women. The factory manufactures women’s garments (primarily t-shirts, blouses etc). Fashion Express has another unit in Manesar: Plot 79-80, Sector 5 IMT Manesar.

July 2007

On the 23rd of July the management stopped giving work to the sewing and finishing department. Only the computerised embroidery machines, which are able to work on 20 pieces a time, was still operated. Wages had not been paid by 7th of August. In the last week of July there was a meeting between the Fashion Express union president, two AITUC union reps and the main company manager. The manager told them that he was closing the factory and terms of settlement with the union were discussed. It was agreed that the union would draft its terms of settlement. The union did not question the closure, but asked for the following settlement:
*Close factory according to legal rules and regulations
*Give VRS to all workers:
*For years already worked – 45 days wages per year of service
*For years of service remaining until retirement – 30 days wages per year of service remaining
*Give all dues remaining for last 3 years (arrears, bonus, increments)
*Agree that if you or your family member set up another factory you will give these workers first priority when hiring
*Give legal compensation as due – 15 days of compensation for every year of service and gratuity

Instead of a reply the management put up the following notice in the factory:
“Workers have been spreading some rumors that management is closing the factory but the reality is that for the last 2-3 months there has been no work at the factory. management is trying its best to address the situation. Due to fluctuations in the market the company has recently been unable to procure international orders. That is the reason for not giving work to the workers for the last few months and yet even without work, management made arrangements to pay the workers. Even now management is trying to revive production. management has no intention to close the factory but management hopes that keeping the trying circumstances in mind, workers will maintain peace so that we can start production as soon as orders come in. We hope that you will not take any such steps that spread false rumors and hinder work at the factory”.

Contradictions pointed out by the workers
*There was production until July 2007.
*They have proof of shipments dispatched and new orders that came in.
*The owner stopped coming to the factory after 29th of July.
*All managerial staff stopped coming to the factory after 30th of July.
*Since the 1st August the punch-in systems for workers have not been functioning as they should.
*The sole personnel manager who was coming to the factory has also stopped coming, only security guards come and open the factory and let workers in.
*In the last 4-5 days equipment and stocks of raw materials have started to be removed at night.
*It is true that a rented factory nearby in Phase V has been shut down, but there is no information about the status at the Manesar plant.

September 2007

On the 24th of September the workers found a lock-out notice at the factory gate. The union has information of shipments sent in the name of Fashion Express during the last two months (during which time management claimed that there was no work and hence no work was being given to FE workers at the Udyog Vihar unit). At the last meeting with the DLC where the company manager was present, workers raised the issue of lack of cleanliness in the factory and the removal of sweeping/cleaning staff. The manager’s response through his lawyer was that since no one from Fashion Express management or staff wasat the factory and the workers wre there they should clean it themselves. This is a violation of the Factories Act. Owners have to provide healthy working conditions, drinking water and toilet facilities. Especially since Fashion Express management is proclaiming loudly and with its notice that it is interested in keeping the unit open and is not engaging in a lockout.
Workers are also facing a lot of financial difficulties since they have not been paid in recent months. Already their children have been thrown out of school once due to non-payment of school fees. After they were paid 50% of July’s wages, many of their children rejoined school but now the workers are facing the same problem again. We have a list of the workers and the amount of school fees each one needs to pay. The total comes to nearly 34,000.

End of 2007

By the end of 2007 all permanent workers at Fashion Express Udyog Vihar Factory lost their jobs, so far the issue of compensation or severance pay is not settled.

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 Six -
– Summary on recent news items on the developing SEZ in Gurgaon

Special economic zones (SEZs) of India’s largest private sector company Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), and real estate majors DLF and Omaxe, will get a major boost with the commerce ministry considering a relaxation of the 5,000- hectare cap on the land size of these zones. RIL was planning to build a 10,000 hectare zone in Jhajjar, near Gurgaon, while DLF had proposed an 8,097 hectare zone in Gurgaon, Haryana. Pillai added that land owners whose land will be acquired for SEZs will also be given the option of becoming stockholders in the SEZs that will be set up on their land.
(December 4, 2007 / BS Reporter)

Recently Group BPTP received approvals for SEZs in Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon. The SEZs will be located in Gurgaon’s Sector 102 and Faridabad’s Sector 81. These will have an area of 27 acres and 54 acres, respectively. The investment will be about Rs 550 crore in Gurgaon SEZ and Rs 1,100 crore in Faridabad SEZ. All these four SEZs would be dedicated to IT and IT enabling services. Citibank’s realty arm has invested in the BPTP to the tune of Rs 322.50 crore and Merrill Lynch real estate arm also invested Rs 112.55 crore in a joint venture project of the company. The amount was raised to fund the development of an IT Park that is scheduled to be set up on the Gurgaon-Expressway on 4.5 acres of land. Merrill Lynch holds 49 per cent equity while BPTP has a balance of 51 per cent in the IT-Park project.
(Janunary 6, 2008, 0515 hrs IST, TNN)

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.

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:

Housing:
– 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

Food:
– 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
– Bottle (0,7l) of beer at Haryana Wine and Beer shop: 50 to 70 Rs
– Cigarettes (10), cheapest local brand: 25 Rs
– Starbucks Coffee (Latte Medium) in Shopping Mall: 59 Rs

Utensils:
– 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

Transport and Communication:
– Bus ticket to nearest bigger bus stop in South Delhi: 14 Rs
– Daily Newspaper: 3 Rs
– One hour internet in a cafe: 20 Rs
– Cinema (new) ticket Saturday night: 160 Rs
– single entry for swimming pool: 100 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
– One month mobile phone flat rate: 1,500 Rs

Luxuries:
– Minimum dowry poor workers have to pay
for the marriage of their daughter: about 30,000 Rs (80,000 Rs more likely)
– money given to poor labourers for their kidney: about 40,000 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.

7 Responses to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.9”

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