Past Tense / Present Unrest – Local Working Class History – Faridabad, India

Below you can find an interview and translations relating to the history of workers’ struggles at the still existing Thomson Press in Faridabad, near Delhi.

At the end of the 1960s, Faridabad developed into a main industrial area in India. At the time lot of companies re-located from older industrial areas in West Bengal after facing difficult conditions for exploitation due to local proletarian upheavals. Faridabad grew into a huge concentration first of industry and then of working class militancy, particularly after the State of Emergency 1977. The following decades were characterised by a long process of re-structuring – which witnessed both declined and partial collaboration of the trade unions – and by the end of 1990s capital expanded towards new clusters like nearby Gurgaon as main areas for investment.

The experience of workers in Faridabad rarely entered the realm of official labour history. For the current generation of workers a critical engagement with the voices from the past is essential part of the search for new trajectories and new forms of organisation. In the near future we intend to bring more documents and voices back into our present discussions and extend the archive on this site. The material is sketchy and the translations are not perfect – please see this as an open invitation to participate in the process. We will also try to debate some conclusions. At present we want to refer to the pamphlet on ‘Workers’ Self Activity’ by Faridabad Majdoor Samachar, which you can find on the site.

*** HMS Thomson Press Union Leader in Faridabad in 1970s to 1990s
(GWN, Conversation 2011)
A short interview with a union official of HMS in Faridabad. He arrived in Faridabad in 1973, worked as a printer at Thomson Press and became the union president there. Like the main local HMS union leader Sethi, he was invited by the international Trotzkyite movement to speak as an ‘independent’ workers’ leader at various international gatherings. We suggest to read his account together with the Faridabad Majdoor Samachar reports, in particular about the developments at East India Cotton, at Escorts and Thomson Press itself.

*** Articles on Struggles at Thomson Press
(Faridabad Majdoor Samachar: June 1989 to June 1991)
The articles cover the conflicts between Chautala / Devi Lal Haryana government and factions within the ruling publishing and media sector, played out through conflict between different union factions in local companies like Thomson Press: physical confrontations, strikes, lock-outs. They also relate to the re-structuring at Thomson Press, which has to be seen as part of the global re-structuring in the printing industries in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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