GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 48 (March 2012)
Gurgaon in the industrial belt of Delhi 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-waged classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young proletarianised post-graduates 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 up-rooted by the rural crisis stitch and sew for export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh, China or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; on the outskirts of Gurgaon, new industrial zones turn soil into over-capacities. 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:
In the March 2012 issue you can read
*** Further Material on Struggle at Maruti Suzuki, Manesar –
We translated two ‘Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Diaries’, published in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar in December 2011 and January 2012. The diaries demonstrate that negotiations, formally elected leaders or legal agreements are not needed in order for workers to improve their conditions. As a result of the unrest Maruti Suzuki offered higher wages, more holiday and much lower work loads. Not because they faced a negotiation partner who had a disciplined mass behind them; but because of the opposite, the management faced a confrontation with what appeared to them to be a rather unruly mass whose next step was not predictable. The Maruti Suzuki dispute also shows that the long-term result of the struggle depends on the ability of workers to go beyond the immediate sphere of their factory, without losing this base of daily relationships. The more recent wildcat support action of Maruti and Suzuki Powertrain workers for a workmate employed and injured at a supplier (see report) indicates that the Maruti struggle has changed the atmosphere amongst workers in Manesar in general. How closely related the conditions in Manesar are to those in automobile centres across the globe becomes visible in the current debates about EU-India trade pacts and discussions about automatisation in the industry in India (see summary).
*** Yanam is Everywhere: Trouble at Adidas/Reebock/Puma manufacturer Adigear, Manesar –
On 27th of January the police killed a worker at Regency Ceramics in Yanam, Andhra Pradesh, during a conflict with the locked-out workforce in a dispute over wages and regularisation of workers hired through contractors. In response workers attacked the factory and managements’ houses, during which a top manager was killed. Workers burnt down parts of the plant, the company college, lorries and other equipment. Workers living in the area used the opportunity to loot neighbouring companies, e.g. a cooking-gas bottle supplier. Yanam is potentially everywhere. Below you can find a short report about current disputes at Adigear in Manesar, a textile manufacturer for Adidas and other international sportswear brands. During one of the conflicts a top manager got beaten up. We see these incidents as an expression of the increasing pressure of crisis. You can find a short summary concerning the current threat of mass loan default of textile companies in India – and the utter perplexity of the representatives of capital – leaving the representatives of capital at a loss.
*** Delhi Calling: Get Involved in Faridabad Majdoor Talmel
To abolish the global work/war house will take more than informative exercise! If you live in Delhi area, please be welcomed to take part in Faridabad Majdoor Talmel – a workers’ coordination. We distribute around 9,000 copies of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar on ten days each month in various industrial areas around Delhi. You can also participate in the workers’ meeting places which have been opened in various workers’ areas. If you are interested, please get in touch. For more background on Faridabad Majdoor Talmel:
Between June and October 2011 around 3,500 workers at Maruti Suzuki car plant openly confront the factory regime and its institutional allies in Manesar, in the south of Delhi. Their struggle leaped over to other automobile factories in the industrial corridor, which brought the world’s third largest automobile assembly plant in nearby Gurgaon to a halt. In the most significant workers’ struggle in India in the last two decades the young workers managed to undermine the companies’ attempts to divide them along the lines of temporary and permanent contracts. So far we published three longer texts about this important experience and tried to formulate preliminary conclusions for a necessary open debate.
In this newsletter you can find further material, mainly two ‘Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Diaries’ , published in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar in December 2011 and January 2012. The friends of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar take it seriously to discover and circulate this important experience, even if the official dispute is over. It lays outside of our capacity to summarise the slowly condensing experience into a comprehensive article. We can only generally state that the Maruti Suzuki dispute confirmed the importance of the ‘centrality of the factory’, as a place of direct confrontation between the essence of capitalist relations and workers’ collective power, as a place where the antagonistic elements of the productive cooperation (‘working together under capitalist division of labour’) of workers is concentrated: productive cooperation as the main source of capitalist productivity and power and at the same time the material bases for workers’ self-organisation as an ‘proletarian inversion of cooperation’. The workers at Maruti themselves are not different from the migrant workers in hundreds and thousands of other factories in Gurgaon or Faridabad, and they themselves have been working in these factories. Therefore it is not their particularly ‘advanced consciousness’, which developed a struggle with the most advanced forms of collective activity, questioning of legality etc., but their specific condition in the centre of production.
We have also seen that it does not need negotiations, formally elected leaders or legal agreements in order to translate workers’ unrest into material improvements. Maruti Suzuki offered higher wages, more holiday and much lower work loads, not because they faced a negotiation partner who had a disciplined mass behind him (sic!), but because of the opposite, the confrontation with a – seemingly from the perspective of management – rather unruly mass whose next step was not predictable. The Maruti Suzuki dispute also shows that the long-term result of the struggle depends on the ability of workers to go beyond the immediate sphere of their factory, without losing the base of daily relationships. Their often temporary status forces them to act towards this direction. The example of the wildcat support action of Maruti and Suzuki Powertrain workers for a work-mate employed at a supplier on 13th of January 2012 – see below – shows that the Maruti struggle has changed the atmosphere amongst workers in Manesar in general. How closely related the conditions in Manesar are to those in automobile centres across the globe becomes visible in the current debates about EU-India trade pacts and discussions about automatisation in the industry in India.
*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – December 2011 –
*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – January 2012 –
*** Wildcat Solidarity Action for Injured Automobile Worker –
*** Update on General Situation of Automobile Industry in India –
* Before June 2011 the A-shift had to start work at 6 am, instead of 7 am, and the B-shift had to work till 1:40 am, instead till midnight. These daily two hours overtime were not officially recorded by Maruti Suzuki management and the overtime was paid at single rate, instead of the statutory double rate. Maruti’s official production capacity was 1 million per year, produced and sold were 1.27 million cars last year. After the 13-days occupation of the factory in June the workers stopped working overtime.
* A supervisor said: “After the workers had occupied the factory for a second time they forced the company to reinstall the company bus transport. This was good, it was an enormous effort to get to work without the busses.
* After the second agreement was settled workers signed the good-conduct undertaking and went inside the factory on the 3rd of October. We were scared of re-entering the factory, but the supervisors and management were twice as scared. In all the departments workers first listened to the sermons of the leading management and then arrived at the production lines at 9 am. Around 30 per cent of workers were shifted from their previous work-station to a new one. Then phone calls of workers hired through contractors came in saying that although permanent workers and trainees were taken back in, the workers hired through contractors were denied entry and told to take their final dues from the contractor. People trusted the (non-recognised) union committee, whose members had been suspended and kept outside, people listened to their instructions. The committee said that they gave management two to three days to take the workers hired through contractor back on.
* On the 7th of October, when the B-shift entered the factory, people said that “something is going to happen”. Suddenly at 3:30 pm we assembled, the decision was made to get people together from all departments as quickly as possible and not to leave a single person there. All workers from the ‘old’ assembly line gathered together. In addition there were around 170 permanent workers from the Manesar factory, around 700 workers from the Maruti Gurgaon plant and more than 600 newly hired workers from ITI’s in Kanpur, Riwa, Himanchal, Bihar, Delhi, who management had all kept inside the plant since beginning of September. Of these workers many had been employed at the ‘new’ assembly line. Most of these workers left the factory at that point on their own accord. The workers immediately formed chains at all entries and exists of the factory.
* At that point there had already been 400 police on the factory premises. At 8 pm the chief of the local police station arrived and said: “Those people who you force to stay, let them go”. People from management stood further away and called individual workers by name to come forward. Some of the workers refused to leave the factory out of fear. The next morning the police chief returned together with contractors and made 30 to 40 rounds on the premises.
* On the night of the 7th of October we prepared ourselves to sleep – we gathered together all blankets and pillows and distributed them. The company had provided these pillows and blankets for those ‘working’ workers, who stayed inside the factory 24 hours during the ‘lock-out’ in September. We found some papers with a list of names of all those workers, in front of each name they had written a column saying ‘pillow’, ‘vest’, ‘loin cloth’, ‘soap’, ‘tooth paste and brush’, ‘sandals’, cigarettes’. In September, apart from these workers who stayed inside for 24 hours, busses arrived from Gurgaon plant every day, with bouncers and workers. Management had ‘promoted’ workers hired through contractors from Gurgaon plant to trainees and used them for production in Manesar.
* During the time of the lock-out supervisors and managers also had trouble over trouble. They feared for their security: would the guys storm inside the factory and start trashing? would the guys catch you outside and trash you? would they trash you once normality has returned? The work-load was also extreme: they extended shifts to 12-hours, they had to produce with new guys they did not know – so they themselves also had to work. A line supervisor who had been brought in asked: “How do the guys who normally work here manage to churn out so many cars? They were also worried about their jobs.
* During the time of the occupation management ordered to retrieve a huge die from the press shop in order to stir things up a bit and worry us. They came with a big trailer and 100 police. We discussed: if we actively try to hold them back, they will start beating us up. Let’s lie down in front of the truck. So 50 of us lied down in front of it. The police chief stopped the truck by hand signal and said to management: if you want we will get it out by running over them. The truck remained where it was – the driver had left.
* In addition to the 400 cops, on 13th of October 200 more police arrived inside the plant. At night after 10 pm a chain of workers stopped an official of the local administration, who had arrived with cameramen and 30 to 40 helmet wearing cops. The official came in order to put up the high court order to leave the factory. After discussion the factory committee gave their permission to put up the court order. Things were very chaotic at that point – when the official put up the document they shot photos, when they spoke to the committee they took photos. After we read the order there first was a bit of confusion, but then the decision was made not to leave the factory. Also the decision to keep calm. The police had stopped any food or other things from entering the factory since the afternoon. During the night of the 13th of October we were hungry, we passed the night by talking. The left-over chana we distributed amongst the apprentices in the morning. In the morning the company stopped the water supply to the toilets. We gathered the rest of the drinking water.
* The news made rounds that the police chief would come in order to search workers. There were around 1,600 permanent workers, trainees and apprentices inside the plant – the police searched us one by one. Then suddenly the DC and 20 to 25 administration officials arrived in the plant, surrounded by cops with guns. They walked around a bit, then stopped in one place and started talking – he had no microphone, so the workers gave him a mic. At the beginning he spoke exactly like a (union) leader: that we were good workers, that we were educated, that we did a great job since five years now, that we achieved such high production levels, that this grants so much tax for the government. he then said that our wages were higher than those of others, that the management is good, that we have been seduced by some people, that we have illegally occupied the factory, that we should follow the orders of the high court, that we have to follow the order to leave the plant, that there wasn’t any other option, that playing with the law will not be tolerated, that since the erring of the Rico Auto workers law and order has been in dire straits, that if Maruti Suzuki will move the factory, our jobs would also go, but why should the government have to bear the losses.
* The workers listened to these words of the DC attentively for half an hour. Then the DC started to tell a tale, the tale which Maruti Suzuki management kept on telling: the race of the turtle and the rabbit, which ends with the morale that if sometimes the rabbit carries the turtle, and sometimes the turtle the rabbit, both win. Team-work! Workers and management should join and go together. But soon after the DC had started his story, the workers stretched out, many fell asleep, others started talking amongst themselves. End the end the DC said that he will quickly move management to enter negotiations for a settlement, and that we should now please follow the order. Another official spoke again about the law, that the occupation is illegal, that we had to go. When the DC was about to leave a worker took the mic: “We have now listened to your words, now listen to ours.” The DC stopped, but when one worker after the other started questions, he left. When workers started to shout slogans, with rather load voices, the DC and the other officials fled the factory more or less running.
* After talks between management and some workers on 22nd of October, an high official of the company, the managing executive officer, made a straight intervention in the Manesar factory. In an expensive restaurant on National Highway 8 a two-day meeting with 60 to 70 ‘representatives’ of workers and managers took place. They negotiated around the question of holidays: management offered that some of the holidays could be fixed, others could be flexible. Management said that they will give us 16 days annual leave. They said that our parents will be covered by the company health system, that this will become easier and more straightforward. “We will see about company transport, too”. They said: “Form a union, we will not object.” When the company wanted workers to form a company committee and workers objected, management said: “Okay, don’t form a committee then, that’s fine.” They also said: “There will be a good wage increase, just wait for three months”. “We will pay you more than the workers at Powertrain (Suzuki Powertrain had an 11,500 Rs monthly increase over three years: 6,500 – 2,500 – 2-500). And the bosses themselves said that the work-load was to high and that as soon as B-plant has started operation the line speed will be reduced from 45 seconds per car to 1 min per car.
* The fact that workers hadn’t put forward any (wage) demands led the bosses to wonder about the ‘policies’ behind the dispute. They said: Tell us, haven’t all the issues relating to your mates been resolved after the 13-days occupation in June? We don’t understand why things flared up again – have you been seduced or what happened? Some high official within Maruti Suzuki belong to the same party as a certain section within leading management in Hyundai, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Ford – and some of these high officials had recently left Maruti Suzuki in order to get jobs at other car manufacturers. Who knows, may be they arranged all this trouble at Maruti in order to benefit their current employer?
* On 3rd of November A-shift and B-shift stopped work for an hour each and their were department meetings. The big bosses repeated what they had said already. In November management had put up a notice saying that the formation of a works committee has been rejected.
* The Manesar A-plant produced 1,150 cars in two shifts in November. Working overtime is strictly forbidden. The manual line has been idle. Instead there are still 70 to 80 police staying there. Up to now, the end of November, you can see them in the morning, with their wrapped up towels, brushing their teeth.
* When the bought-sold issue (‘golden hand-shake’) of 30 workers (union representatives) made the rounds after the end of the dispute, a Maruti-Suzuki worker said, “Earlier we used to pass on the issues to the president, general secretary, department co-ordinator – they will tell. But now every worker himself answers. On every issue, everyone gives his opinion. The atmosphere has changed.”
* All in all: “The time in Maruti-Suzuki factory during October 7-14 was extremely good. There was no tension of work, there was no tension of coming to the factory and going back, there was no tension of catching the bus, there was no tension of cooking, there was no tension that food has to be eaten only at 7 o’clock or only at 9 o’clock, there was no tension as to what day or date was that day. Lots of personal conversation took place. We had never come so close to one another as we came in these seven days.”
* The assembly-line speed used to be a car per 45 seconds, they have now reduced speed to a car per 1 minute.
* The police have left the factory in December.
* The company management does not understand what really happened during the last months and why. Therefore they are afraid of pushing things too far with workers. Management has started to pat us on the shoulder, to give us concessions.
* There is a distance. There keeps being a distance between management and workers. The bosses say: the distance has been created, let it be closed. The big bosses said to the department managers that they should establish direct relationships with the permanent workers and technical trainees. Through the executive officers, management has issued two new email IDs for workers to contact and communicate with the company management directly.
* Being alarmed by the many debates and wide-reaching discussions amongst workers some elements started to spread the rumour that the company would tap workers’ phones. If company and state are afraid of us talking to each other, and therefore spread these rumours, we should increase doing so, increase talking, increase their fear. In September – October, when large numbers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers spoke to each other in an open way, spreading rumours about conspiracies of management or state played an important role when it came to stirring up some dust in order to cloud things again. Company and state are very weak, this is why they have a lot of fear of workers conversing.
* After the (union) president and secretary and then the other 28 suspended took their final dues and left, the process of union registration continues. First they tried to appoint union officials on the base of ‘regions of origin’. This got entangled in inner-disputes. New union officials were appointed. The company knows about this – it is all in full knowledge of the company. Workers had trusted the president and secretary way too much. Now, when there is talk about the question of the president election, we only come and see who they want to make president. Now we won’t just close our eyes and trust anyone. Obviously, if the company wants to, a strike can always happen, but now we will make our decisions only after proper thinking and discussing. The company has not paid money to all those 30 guys who left the job in order to make them leave from here. They gave them money so that they would always intervene on the side of the company. The sphere of union and officials is still the chosen arena of the company.
* Debates. “You should put pressure on the administration in Chandigarh in order for the labour commissioner to register your union.” “What will a registration change? Why would you need it? You have seen that the labour commissioner came all the way from Chandigarh to the factory gate when the dispute was on – and you have seen what his role was.” “That’s correct. But nevertheless, if the government accepts you, you will get some help from it.” “But what kind of help? You have seen the kind of help the company and government has to offer. Why do you want to reduce your strength from 3,500 workers to 950 workers?” “No, we should remain together as 3,500 workers.” “But how? Only the permanent workers can become member of the union. According to the legislation trainees, apprentices and workers hired through contractors cannot become members. By forming collectivity amongst all workers in the factory and beyond the factory you have shaken company and government. Why do you now want to shrink again?” “Currently there is no one who would engage in talks with the company. The company started to give you this and that concession, because they are afraid that you have joined together amongst 3,500 and might join with the 100,000s around you. They have increased the wages of the apprentices, trainees and workers hired through contractor. They have reduced line speed from 45 sec to 1 min a car. The company official told that there will be a considerable wage increase for the permanent workers. So, what kind of interest could you have in a 950-member union which has negotiations between company, president and secretary? At the moment the company hasn’t got anyone for settling an agreement with, this is why they are forced to make concessions to all workers. This is why the company is actually in need for a union and union leaders. The conditions nowadays are such that – even if you intend a thousand times to achieve the opposite – starting from the fact that union registration and acceptance is limited to the permanent workers, the leaders will be reduced to a small circle and thereby become a tool in the hand of the company. You just have to look at the example of the Honda union. In 2005 permanent workers, trainees, workers hired through contractors fought together. Now most of the 1,800 permanent workers have supervisory jobs. The company has stopped to keep trainees. Please speak to the 6,500 workers hired through contractor about their view on the union – the workers who do most of the production work at Honda – and then think about it again.”
On 13th of January a worker hired through contractor employed in the factory of the car parts (break shoes) manufacturer Allied Nippon received serious chemical burn injuries during a work accident. The company brought the worker to a private nursing home, instead of an ESI hospital, in order to keep the accident ‘unofficial’. Seven friends of the worker, living in the same dormitory villages in Manesar and employed mainly as temporary workers at Maruti Suzuki, visited him at the nursing home. The friends first contacted the supervisor of the contractor which employed the injured worker. The contractor said that he had no information about the issue – the worker also has not been issued an ESI card, although he had been employed since early December 2011. The seven friends then went directly to the Allied Nippon factory, but the factory manager refused to see them. The friends then decided to call other friends for help. Within half an hour 70 to 80 workers employed through contractor in different departments of Maruti Suzuki and Suzuki Powertrain gathered in front of the Allied Nippon factory. The factory manager felt threatened, and stayed behind the factory fence. The assembled workers said that he would not even have to bother with paying for the hospital fees, that the workers themselves would pay for that, but that he has to pay the worker until he is better and get his job back. He should also inform the parents of the worker. “We got a lot of support during the time when we occupied the factory. Now it’s time that we support others”, said one of them.
In the last month there was a fair bit of back and forth around the question of the EU – India free trade agreement and how it would impact on the automobile industry in both regions. The back and forth does not primarily express conflicting interests between different car manufacturers, given that most companies now have plants both in Asia and Europe. The conflict evolves rather around the question how to balance the global movement of production – not necessarily only from north to south – and the regional framework of state revenues and labour markets. Currently the EU imports around 250,000 cars from India annually, that’s more than from South Korea – Hyundai, itself a ‘South Korean’ company is one of the main exporters from India. The Indian market ‘only’ imported around 4,000 cars from the EU in 2011, this does not include automobile related commodities (parts, machinery for production etc.). The free trade talks on 10th of February haven’t determined yet whether the 60 per cent Indian import tariffs on cars manufactured in the EU will be dropped to 30 per cent, or whether the 6.5 per cent EU import tariffs for ‘Indian’ cars will be dropped to zero, as demanded by the Indian state delegation. It is for sure that general market pressure will increase, not mainly because of tariff policies, but due to the general dynamic of capitalist production – and both regional state and the global manufacturers will try to translate this pressure into pressure on workers everywhere – General Motors in the US currently announces ‘record profits’, as one of the results of sharp real wage decline in the US car industry.
After the increased unrest in the automobile industry in India the management publicly muses about ‘automatisation’. “Three hundred robots whirr to life every morning all over Hyundai’s Sriperumbudur plant near Chennai, rubbing shoulders with 1,500 employees and 7,000 contract workers. Together, man and machine churn out one car in less than a minute; over 600,000 cars roll out of the factory every year. The number of robots inhabiting the factory has increased more than 10-fold in a decade. Car companies directly or indirectly employ over five workers for every car produced. All automobile and component companies together employ over 1.3 crore workers directly and indirectly. At Hyundai, gone are the part-bypart way of putting together a car; today, 40 per cent of the value of the car comes to Hyundai by way of pre-arranged modules, de-skilling the job at the shop floor. The Indian auto shop floor isn’t as automated as those in the more mature markets. So, while German carmaker Volkswagen’s Chakan plant has an automation of 30% in its body shop, the comparative number back home would be 90%.”
Obviously there is ‘automatisation’ happening in the main assembly plants, at the same time there is also outsourcing to labour-intensive first and second tier suppliers going on. The talk about ‘automatisation’ is mainly ideological talk, which expresses itself nicely in the following quote by tyre-manufacturer Apollo’s top-manager Sharma: “We do not have what has traditionally been referred to as ‘workers’ at the Chennai plant.” Apollo, instead, has shop floor engineers who are not just in charge of running machinery but also its upkeep, maintenance and effecting innovation. In order to see more clearly how much of this talk is ‘propagandistic’ it might be worth having a look at the developments in the global north, where the peak of ‘automatisation’ and ‘skill-enrichment’ in the car industry was probably reached around 1990, and since then – mainly as a result of stagnating wage levels – has basically reversed to rather ‘traditional’ means of industrial production.
In this regard we suggest greatly to read following account “At some point you are not interested in technology anymore”, by a Volkswagen worker in Germany:
On 27th of January the police killed a worker at Regency Ceramics in Yanam, Andhra Pradesh, during a conflict with the locked-out work-force, in dispute over wages and regularisation of workers hired through contractors. Workers in response attacked the factory and managements’ houses, during which a top-manager was killed. Workers burnt down parts of the plant, the company college, lorries and other equipment, workers in the surrounding neighbourhood used the opportunity to loot neighbouring companies, e.g. a cooking-gas bottle supplier.
Yanam is potentially everywhere. Below you can find a short report about current disputes at Adigear in Manesar, a manufacturer for Adidas and other international sports gear brands. During one of the conflicts a top-manager got beaten up. The ‘textile’ sector in India is not excepted from the general tendency of crisis. On 6th of February we could read in the Economic Times:
“Yarn, fabric and clothing companies are in a sweet spot. They owe banks so much that now it is their lenders’ job to ensure they survive. With wild enthusiasm, banks have lent the textile industry Rs 2,50,000 crore in the last 12 years. Now companies say they can’t even pay interest on Rs 50,000 crore in working capital loans. Up to 15 per cent of loans to this industry are stressed and the number is rising fast. In today’s precarious times, such a gaping hole could be the last straw for banks. Most of these loans have already been ‘restructured’ once. If payments fall behind a second time, the account has to be classified as a ‘Non Performing Asset’ on the bank’s balance sheet. In December, a dozen banks asked the RBI to relax the rules on declaring bad loans and let these twice restructured loans remain standard. Because such relaxation flouts international prudential and accounting norms, quite sensibly, RBI refused.
The biggest players, with enough backward and forward integration to ride out the storms, continue to make money. Those in distress today were clearly unworthy of large loans in the first place and should now be written off. The real issue is that Indian textile companies are small, labour-intensive, non-integrated spinning, weaving, finishing and apparel-making outfits. Only 3% are large composite mills. Today’s world demands economies of scale. Indiscriminate government subsidies in the name of job creation further encouraged promoters to use public money for creating more such fragmented capacities that are inevitably idled at first signs of trouble. It is a mirage that the textiles industry is too big to fail. On the contrary, its myriad small units have outlived their utility. Their exit will occur only when banks face the consequences of their actions. And subsidy schemes should stop. Individual livelihoods can’t be protected by industrial dinosaurs.”
We remember the attack on the huge composite mills in Bombay in the mid-1980s, when the representatives of capital proclaimed that this ‘large-scale’-form of production is outdated and small, flexible units are supposed to be the future. We remember the recent mass waves of strikes and riots in the textile export zones in Bangladesh, where, according to this view, capital found better investment options. We are reminded that the problem of profit-margins, over-production, 16-24-36 hours shifts paralleled by rising unemployment is an universal problem. The crisis, and the ‘solutions’ proposed in the article above (the only solution the current system can provide), will create one, two, three, …many Yanams.
Adigear International Worker
(Manufacturer for Adidas, Reebok, Puma, FILA etc.)
(Plot 253, Sector VI, IMT Manesar)
Shift starts at 9:30 am in the morning. The 100 female workers finish work at 8 pm and the 800 male workers work till 1 am, sometimes till 6 am the next morning. On Sundays workers work till 6 pm, sometimes till 1 am. The male workers work 180 to 240 hours of overtime per month, paid at single rate. Wages are paid delayed, the August wages were paid in small installments from 20th of September onwards. On the 20th of September at 11 am, when wages were handed out, there was a lot of commotion. The six-foot personal security officer of the company director slapped one of the workers. Why did he hit him? The workers wanted to know, but the security officer had left the place. During meal break workers left the factory and started to question the security officer, but he escaped with the help of another security officer. The workers then met the general manager outside the plant and the workers treated him as the due representative of the security officer. He was then admitted to the ESI hospital. The company has close relations to the district police, so they acted immediately. The police arrived and arrested 42 workers, whose names were given by management, and brought them to the Manesar police station. In protest all remaining workers stopped working and left the factory. In return 21 workers were released, but the others remained locked-up. The workers did not re-start work, the factory remained idle from 23rd to 25th of September. Workers said: Release all of the arrested, withdraw the cases filed and pay compensation for lost wages… if you want the next orders to be shipped in time, fulfil these demands. Conflicts continued since then. On 3rd of December, when workers who had been sacked came to get their August wages, management called the cops again. We don’t know whether these workers got their wages in the end. When our October and November wages were still not paid on 15th of December, we stopped working at 9:30 am. When work was still not resumed at 1 pm the company send seven bouncers who started hassling workers. In response all of us left the factory…