GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 63 – June 2014

In the June 2014 issue of GurgaonWorkersNews you can find some significant reports about current struggles in the local industry, amongst others, about mass ‘de-occupations’ of factories from management control by workers in the automobile supply-chain and riots at local garment factories. For further debate, please get in touch:

List of (Dis-)Contents

*** Reports concerning various conditions of proletarian / working class women – For the debate on how the struggle against exploitation in general relates to the struggle against gender (violence) in particular
* Intro
* Proletarian women on piece-rate work from home in Delhi
* Proletarian women working as surrogate ‘mothers’ in the reproductive industry of Gurgaon
* Proletarian women’s experiences and struggles in Gurgaon/Manesar factories, amongst others, a joint week-long factory occupation with male colleagues at Napino Auto in March/April 2014

*** New film documentary on Maruti Suzuki workers struggle and background information on current automobile struggles
The comprehensive documentary is product of over a year of conversations with workers in the area. The first part documents the general working and living conditions in Delhi’s industrial belt. The second part focuses on the series of occupations and riots at Maruti Suzuki plant. The third part portrays the debate within the political left about these struggles. We summarised some written information on current disputes as background material.

*** Short reports from eight factories in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi
Young workers employed at Agro Engineering, Dhiman Engineering, Ratna Offset, Bright Brothers, Orient Fan, Globe Capacitor, Harsoria Health Care and Delhi metro report about their working conditions

*** For the revolutionary debate – Translation of ‘Profession and Movement’ by German collective wildcat
The article criticises the trend of increasing ‘professionalisation’ within the (radical) left milieu. Collective search for material conditions of a fundamental rupture with the current state of affairs turns into individual academic research. Processes of self-organisation with other workers is professionalised as paid ‘organiser’-work for the trade union apparatus. We need collective structures in order to break with these tendencies which lead to further individualisation and reproduction of hierarchies.

*** Never mind the bankers… Thoughts on the UK Crisis
We wrote a longer working paper on the current development of crisis and struggles in the UK, which also might be relevant for the debate in other regions.

*** Second issue of ‘The University Worker’
This paper from contains interviews with people employed at universities in Delhi, from teaching staff to maintenance workers – as an effort to find a common organisational process.


*** Reports concerning various conditions of proletarian / working class women – For the debate on how the struggle against exploitation in general relates to the struggle against gender (violence) in particular

* Intro

Some time back we wrote a longer contribution to the debate about the relation between class relation and gendered violence – see link below.

In this issue of GurgaonWorkersNews we limit ourselves to a few reports concerning different conditions of proletarian / working class women in the Delhi region. The reports reveal significant differences in what we can call the female proletarian condition. To merely subsume all these conditions under the general term ‘working class women’ would run danger to underestimate the impact of these differences when it comes to the relation between proletarian women and their husbands and wider (violent) patriarchal structures and their relation to ‘wider (female) working class collectivity’ – and therefore to the prospect of collective struggle against the ruling gender relations. We can roughly see the following different conditions, which all form part of the gendered social reality of ‘working class reproduction’ of migrant workers in Delhi:

a) the male worker leaves the village to work in the urban industry; he has to do most of the reproduction work on top of long hours of wage work; he sends money back home, the wage would not allow to bring wife and children to live with him; the women take care of the agriculture at home, either as small subsistence farmers, small scale production for the market or as agricultural wage workers; given the scarcity of wage labour in agriculture many female agricultural labourers are marginalised in government ‘rural employment schemes’; in this situation the women run the danger of being left high and dry if the male wage from the urban areas ceases to arrive; while we find more and more cases of young women leaving the village on their own, the dominant scenario is still that male workers leave first; the condition of separation and the specific condition of a high concentration of male migrant workers and its impact on the wider social sphere and gender relations has been widely documented.

b) at significant costs, the male wage worker brings wife and children to live with him in the urban area; having done the reproduction work himself for a significant time has changed his relation to cooking, washing, cleaning; many workers report that under these conditions it is more likely that male workers take over a share of household work than previously in the village; at the same time the pressure is now on the woman to prove that she is ‘worth the cost’ by providing a perfect home; she is often isolated amongst either women from other regions who also just arrived and within a largely male migrant workers world; in case of domestic violence she is less likely to get support from others, who don’t want to intervene in a ‘stranger’s family affair’; the cost of rent and extra food are a burden, tension is pre-programmed; in this situation women are the most dependent and isolated and therefore vulnerable; it takes time to develop bonds with women in the neighbourhood, in particular in newer industrial areas; also the relation to their children changes significantly in an urban area, where constant supervision is necessary, unlike in a wider village community

c) many women, in particular with smaller children, have no other chance but to take on extra home work, often on piece-rate; while it changes the women’s situation in the sense that they now contribute to the household wage directly, the nature of the work is still based on the isolation in the home; in some cases women take on piece-work together, which can form some deeper bonds between them; because this work is more seen as ‘part of the general household duties’, the working day of the women increase significantly;

d) to take on wage work outside the home is rarely a ‘choice’ as such, but necessity for the household; most individual wages in capitalism are not ‘household wages’; in most cases it is only possible to go out and work once children are old enough to go to school; capitalists acknowledge in some form that women have to do necessary extra-work at home: shift-hours for women tend to be two hours shorter than working-hours of male workers – although household chores will take much longer than only two hours; wage work does not automatically mean that women workers become part of a ‘wider working class collectivity’, many work-places are small and often under strict patriarchal control; elements of personal domination, e.g. through common family ties, still play a big role in formerly ‘free labour’; nevertheless, the chance that she meets with other women and men at work on a more ‘equal’ basis is much more likely compared to the situation when being confined to the house; again, every ‘wage work’ has to be more deeply analysed: what kind of work, with whom, how;

We think ‘working class’ has to be understood along these lines of division. To subsume a woman who is not engaged in wage work (doing subsistence or only domestic work) automatically under ‘working class interest’, based on her dependence on the husbands wage will not help much. This rather disguises the material divisions by assuming that ‘marriage’ is a ‘bond of common interest’ rather than a patriarchal institution. It is similarly superficial to assume that because household work is ‘necessary social labour’ it comes along with the same potential of social collectivity and of hitting ‘capital valorisation’ through refusal.

* The dark life of women workers on piece rate

(translation from: Mazdoor Bigul, April 2012)

Raja Vihar slum, in the backstreets of Badli industrial area in North-West Delhi. In a small room four women sit and do wiring work on small coils. The wire is so thin that I fail to grab it with the pliers. I ask how much they earn: for one thousand coils they are paid 20 Rupees. It takes one woman the whole day to manage one thousand pieces. Another similarly dim-lid room. A woman sits on the floor and attaches small wires to mobile phone chargers. For 100 chargers she receives 6 Rupees. Next door three-four women package plastic spoons in packs of ten. They receive 30 Rupees for a whole sack full of spoons.

Far away from the middle-class areas a huge mass of workers perform all kinds of work at home, on piece-rate: they roll bidis, embroider, cut threads from ready-made garments, put stickers on packaged goods, manufacture children’s toy, stitch, dismantle scrap, extract metal wires from old tyres, take the shells off peanuts and almonds, do all kind of artisanal work. According to the 2006 Arjun Sengupta Committee report, there are more than 80 million women workers who work from home. Around 80 per cent of them work on piece rate. In the current economic development this female labour remains invisible. Apart from their domestic work these women do 10 to 12 hours daily productive work.

Piece Rates of Some House-Based Labour

Removing shell of one sack of peanuts – 30 Rs
Making of a 24 inch flower garland – 30 paise
Making glass pearls out of broken glass – 1 Rs for 1 kilo
Making hair-bands – 1 Rs for 144 pieces
Making annulets for key-rings – 1Rs for 144 pieces
Attaching stickers to packets – 4 Rs for 144 pieces
Sewing one ladies suit – 20 to 25 Rs
Stitch pearls on garment – 7 Rs for 100 pieces

Many women work from home because they cannot take their small children with them to the factories or because they don’t like to work there due to the hostile atmosphere. Some women don’t want to work outside because they or their husbands don’t see it as respectable for women. And the bosses also like it, because they save on rent, electricity, tool maintenance and so on. They remain outside of the labour laws. No labour court would accept them as workers. And what is worse, many women don’t see themselves as workers. They see it as an additional activity besides taking care of the children, in order to earn a little extra. They often suffer from work-related illnesses (back aches, breathing difficulties, skin-ailment due to chemicals used etc.). According to a survey from 2008 the average wage for an 8 hours day of house-based work was 32 Rs. The average working days available per month were 16 days. If women find more work, they work much longer hours. Most of them are in debt. They receive the work either through middle-men and contractors or directly from neighbouring factories. Then they have to pay themselves in order to get and deliver the raw material and finished goods. Most women have to buy the tools (scissors, needles and thread, small pliers or hammers etc.) themselves. The women often work in supply-chains, sometimes with international dimensions (automobile and textile etc.).

* Surrogacy on the rise in North India

(from: The Hindu, 3rd of November 2013)

The so-called ‘medical tourism industry’ is another main sector in Gurgaon. We wrote two main articles about this issue so far. The first article looked at the background of the so-called ‘kidney-scandal’ in 2008, when a private clinic in Gurgaon removed the kidneys of over 200 male migrant workers for organ trade. The second article looks at the working conditions of medical service workers in the international hospitals.

“Sunita (30) is expecting twins in a week’s time. But they are not hers. Sunita is a surrogate mother for a childless aged couple. An illiterate woman earning a meagre Rs.100-Rs.150 per day at a garments factory in neighbouring Gurgaon, Sunita came to know about surrogacy through a ration shop owner in her locality and readily agreed to bear a child in return for money.
“Both of us [Sunita and her husband] worked all day to earn Rs.10,000-Rs.15,000 per month and lived hand-to-mouth. We did not have enough to provide good education to our two children. Here, they offered me Rs.2.5 lakh in return for bearing a child and to take care of all my expenses till delivery. I could have never made this much money in such a short span of time. I have borne [delivery] pain for my children; now I can bear it again for their better future,” said Sunita, one of the dozen surrogate mothers at Gurgaon’s first surrogacy home being run by Vansh Health Care.
India has emerged as the main surrogacy destination since it legalised commercial surrogacy in 2002. And it is primarily for two reasons. One, surrogacy in India is low cost. The complete package costs just one-third of the total procedure cost in the United Kingdom and other developed countries. Secondly, the legal environment here is favourable. In fact, there is no law as such to govern surrogacy in India with the Artificial Reproductive Technique (ART) Bill, 2008, still pending with Parliament.
It is no surprise then that surrogate mothers, who usually come from the lower strata of society, are exploited by being lured to carry out repeated pregnancies or forced to deliver through Caesarean section. Sometimes, they are not paid their due. “A surrogate must take a mandatory 17-day bed rest after the embryo is transferred to the womb. She needs constant care and attention. The success rate for surrogacy was just five per cent to 10 per cent earlier . But this has now changed with surrogacy homes. We provide a home-away-from-home to these surrogates and ensure their comfortable stay during the pregnancy,” said Arveen Poonia of Vansh Health Care, which runs a 30-bed home in a multi-storey building on Sohna Road.”
(The names of surrogates mentioned in the article have been changed to protect their identity)

* Experiences of industrial working class women

JNS Instruments – Jay Ushin Worker
(Plot 4, Sector 3, IMT Manesar)
Buses bring women workers from all over Delhi, Gurgaon, Revari, Pataudi. Women workers arrive on foot from Manesar, Kaasan, Koh Naharpur. Unlike on other days, on Monday, 10th of February 2014, more than 2,000 women who had arrived at the factory gathered together and did not enter the factory. For one and a half to two hours the women stood together and raised the issue that management should pay the new minimum wage of 8,100 Rs, which had been announced by the chief minister of Haryana on 1st of January. The police arrived. In the buses the company also places senior staff members with the women workers, who operate as spies and make sure that women don’t talk to each other – but this did not stop the women to take a collective step that day. JNS manufactures auto meters and remote-locking keys for Honda, Bajaj, Hero, Suzuki, Yamaha motorcycles and for mart Suzuki and Honda cars. The male workers in the factory work 12 hours shifts, when shifts change every two weeks they have to work a 16 hours day. Wages are often delayed – during the gate meeting women verbally abused management about the outstanding money and also resorted to sandal beatings.

UNSHACKLING FACTORIES – The struggle at Napino Auto and other factories
(New Series No. 310, April 2014)
(Hindi version:

Ebullitions all around, unshackling factories. Taking away the occupation of factories by the management. Making factories unfettered spaces for collective gathering. Creating environments that invite the self, others, the entire world to be seen anew. Ceaseless conversation, deep sleep, thinking, exchange of ideas. Sudden immersion of many in relays of songs. Inventing new relationships and whirling in the currents of possibilities that get opened up in collective living.

This is the general condition of today.

May 2010: Plot 7, Sec 3, IMT Manesar, Napino Auto & Electronics Factory. Eight hundred workers (100 women and 700 men) stopped work and sat on the shop floor. As night approached, the men stayed and the women returned home, returning the next morning to join in again with the men. This continued for four days.

Mar-Apr 2014: Plot 7, Sec 3, IMT Manesar, Napino Auto & Electronics Factory. On 24 March, workers of A, B and general shift stopped work and stayed on the shop floor. The same day, in the factory in Plot 31, Sec 8 of the same company, workers from three shifts also stopped work and stayed on the shop floor. And workers in the factory of this same company at 753-754 Udyog Vihar, Phase 5, Gurgaon, also stopped work and stayed on the shop floor. In all three factories, the women workers didn’t leave the shop floor at night. This is an expression of a radical transformation of the relations between women and men. In February 2014, in Baxter Pharma’s factory, 110 women and 140 men stopped work and stayed on the shop floor, refusing to buckle under the pressure of the management, labour department and police.

Starting from 24 March, 2014, in all the three Napino Auto and Electronics factories, men and women workers stopped work and stayed on the shop floor round the clock, and continued to do so on 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 March and 1 and 2 April. The misanthropic company stopped the canteens of all three factories. Workers of the C shift of all three factories, who were outside the factories, brought food. Workers of many other factories remained in constant touch with the workers inside these three factories, carrying on discussions with them, circulating word in other factories about what was going on, and helping out with food.

Similar happenings have occurred in the recent past in Maruti Suzuki Manesar, Suzuki Powertrain, Suzuki Motrocycle, Satyam Auto, Bajaj Motor, Endurance, Hailax, Lumex, Dighania, Hero Honda, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter, Harsurya Healthcare, Ametip Machine Tools.

Today we can say with full confidence that an unsettling courses through seven billion people. It is inspired by the desire for an assertion of the overflow of the surplus of life. It is an expression of creative, boundless astonishment.

Emergence of factory rebels. Attack on factories by congregations of workers. Frightened management. Industrial areas turn into war zones. Rising numbers of workers as political prisoners. Courts that keep refusing bail. A mounting rebuttal in shop floors of the unsavoury behaviour of managers and supervisors. The dismantling of the managerial game of concessions. Irrelevance of middlemen. An acceleration of linkages and exchanges between workers.

This is the general condition of today.

Friday, 28 March, 2014, 10.30 AM. Orient Craft Factory, Sec 18, Gurgaon. A tailor dies of electric shock from a machine in the factory. The company calls the police and declares heart attack as the cause of death. 1200 women and men workers of the factory rebel – first inside the factory, then out on the streets. Workers from other factories join them. 2:30 PM onwards, 3 ACPs, 1 DCP and police from half a dozen police stations from Sector 18 and from Gurgaon West Zone, Udyog Vihar, set up a barricade against the assembling workers. By 4 PM, stone pelting, lathi-charge, tear gas, firing starts. 1 ASP and and 10 policemen are injured, and 40 vehicles damaged. Many workers and hawkers injured. Police registers case against thousands of workers. By now, many workers have been arrested, and countless others are being chased. According to the workers, a woman worker had similarly died of a sudden burst of current in a machine, on 26 March.

Two years ago, workers of the same company from the factory located in Sec 37, Gurgaon, had pitched battle with the management and police. Recently, workers in Ghaziabad (Graziano), in Faridabad (Lakhani Shoes), in IMT Manesar (Maruti Suzuki), in Noida, in Okhla Industrial Area, in the Prithla-Baghola area of Palwal (Shivani Locks, Bio Medical, Haryana Wire, Mahindra, Vamani Overseas, SKH, Auto Ignition) have clashed with and battled managers, factory buildings and police. These clashes are against and bring into view the dominant social relations that govern life today, and which managers, buildings and police are expressions of.

Today we can say with full confidence that an unsettling courses through seven billion people. And relatedly, a crisis-laden astonishment: What happens to the colossal wealth that is being produced? Where does it go? How is it that such a tiny sliver from it reaches daily life?


Female factory worker – Faridabad Majdoor Samachar no.301 – July 2013

My first job in a factory started in 1986. I was given a permanent contract. In 1994 they dismissed me. Again I had to start looking for a job, but the times of permanent employment were over. The company laid me off for seven months in order to avoid having to give me a permanent contract. After this repeated itself several times I started to work in a workshop in Ballabgharh, manufacturing speedometres for cars. After four years the foreman started to trouble me too much, he sent me working from one place to the other. After arguments with the foreman I quit the job. In March 2012 I started operating power-presses in a factory in Sanjay Memorial Industrial Estate. On 25th of August the supervisor told me to leave the power-press and to grind parts instead, taking off the metal burr. Another woman was put on the press, days later the press cut off one of her fingers. I decided not to work on presses anymore and the foreman sacked me. In the same factory a young man cut off two of his fingers shortly after I left – I had told him before to leave this type of work, but he said that he had worked on presses for seven years without an accident. I then started working in a workshop in Mujesar, operating mechanical drills. I worked ten hours a day and Sundays 8 hours, while in the opposite workshop the women work 12 hours every day. Eight of them operate power-presses and the foreman is on their backs, threatening them. I earn 4,200 Rs, plus 15 Rs for each hour over-time. In Sector 24 another woman worker operates power presses in a factory. She is paid 6,500 Rs per month. She has five children, her husband sometimes comes to work, sometimes not. He drinks. He eats at home, but does not contribute any money. Another women worker lost her hand while working on a power press, she has two children. How will she earn money now?

*** New film documentary on Maruti Suzuki workers struggle and background information on current automobile struggles

The comprehensive documentary is product of over a year of conversations with workers in the area. The first part documents the general working and living conditions in Delhi’s industrial belt. The second part focuses on the series of occupations and riots at Maruti Suzuki plant. The third part portrays the debate within the political left about these struggles. We summarised some written information on current disputes as background material.

Some edited background information from other sources:

* Automobile slump stoking labour unrest at companies
(Business Standard: April 29, 2014)

The auto industry’s prolonged slump has meant production cuts and a loss of between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. In 2013, the industry employed approximately 19 million direct and indirect workers.
“While the slump in the automobile sector has put pressure on original equipment makers, high inflation has affected cost of living for workers,” said Abdul Majeed, auto analyst and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “This has put pressure on both, employers and employees, and could explain some of the recent unrest.” Recent cases of labour issues at some of the automobile companies

April 2014: Chakan plant workers threaten to go on a strike from April 28, demand 500 of the firm’s shares for each employee at Rs 1 apiece; say half the amount Bajaj spends on CSR activities should be given to them, besides other things; strike deferred after management talks tough
(also see:

Mar 2014: Unions at two factories in Bidadi (near Bangalore) ask for more holidays, company housing and pay raise of up to Rs 4,000 a month; unions willing to sign a code of good conduct but against individuals doing so; work resumes after state govt intervenes

Jan 2014: After the firm gives fresh appointment letters to only a few workers at its plant in Gujarat, contract workers protest, demanding parity in wages; matter settled after the firm works out a new plan

Nov 2013: Bosch (India) Ltd’s main production unit near Bangalore is hit by labour unrest, as the employees’ union “resorts to an illegal” tool-down strike following a dispute over a gate pass for an employee; the issue is resolved laterIndia’s young workforce adopts new forms of protest

* Struggle at Sriram Piston, April 2014 – A report by Workers Solidarity Centre (Gurgaon)

The brutal police repression on the striking workers of Sriram Piston on 26th April 28, 2014 in Pathredi industrial area of Bhiwadi, an important part of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, exposes the underbelly of so-called ‘development model’.

Sriram Piston is an automobile parts manufacturer for of Honda, Hero MotoCorp, Maruti Suzuki, Bajaj Auto, Mahindra etc.. The production in the Bhiwadi unit started on 29th March, 2011. Some workers were transferred from the Ghaziabad unit, which has a puppet union, and most of the workers were freshly recruited. Now the plant has 1856 workers. Among them 560 are permanent, few are so-called trainees, and remaining workers are ‘fixed term contract’ (FTC), illegally employed in the main production for three years on contract basis. The wage of an operator is Rs. 6000-7000, those who are experienced get a salary of Rs. 9000-10000.

The workers of the plant first initiated a registration process for a union on 14th November, 2013. As a consequence, the president of the union, Mahesh, was suspended by the management on 6th January 2014.
On 20th January, the registration application was cancelled. Workers then filed another registration, this time with the help of AITUC, on 31st January, 2013. After this a continuous process of victimisation started. Worker leaders were harassed, and many were banned to enter the plant without any notice. When the workers decided to organise a meeting on 9th February, the general secretary of the union was picked up from his house by company goons and threatened on 8th February. On 1st March, the company management was successful to get a stay on the registration process of union from civil court by framing some false allegations.
The workers, determined to get the registration of their union, called a meeting on 2nd March where more than 1600 workers, including the contract workers, turned up. The workers submitted their demand letter demanding more facilities and higher wage to the company management on 8th March. The company felt threatened by the unity of workers, and intensified repressive measures by suspending more workers. The management asked the workers to do overtime on 23rd March, which was a Sunday. Those who refused to do overtime were not allowed to enter the plant on the next day.

The workers decided to occupy the plant premises and stop production. For the next five days, nearly 1000 workers were on sit-in strike inside the plant, and 800 workers sat outside the plat. On 28th March, the management agreed to take back all 22 suspended workers, including the president of the union, in next ten days, and thus a settlement was reached. But after that the management showed no intention to take back the workers. After few tripartite meetings in the labour department, when no solution appeared, the workers again stopped production on 15th April. Nearly 1200 workers of A and B shifts were sitting inside the plant, and the workers of the C shift, around 600, sat outside. A conciliation process was initiated by DLC, Alwar on 23rd April. But in that meeting, the president of the union was not allowed to participate and no conclusion was reached. The next meeting was fixed on 28th April. But as the election of Rajasthan got over on 24th April, the government-administration-police-company nexus decided to launch an attack on the workers.

On 26th April, at around 4.30 am, nearly 2000 police, including COBRA, RAF etc, surrounded the factory from three directions. They were accompanied by the 150-200 bouncers who were reserved by the company for the last two months. The workers woke up and faced a severe lathi-charge, tear gas and firing. The police had shot 17 rounds of life amunition that caused bullet injury of three workers. Some workers had multiple fractures including head fracture. Bouncers attacked the workers with knives and rods. The workers decided to resist the attack by pelting stones, but that did not suffice. The bouncers set 4 cars on fire to blame it on the workers. In the meantime, the nearby villagers came out and stood solidly with the workers. The police was forced to retreat. Because of the brutal lathicharge, around 150 workers got injured. 79 of them were admitted to Bhiwadi hospital. The condition of 4 workers became serious and they have been taken to Alwar hospital. Police have arrested 26 workers. Cases under section 147, 148, 149, 332, 353, 307 (attempt to murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy to kill someone) have been slapped against the workers. Even after this brutal repression, the workers are continuing their struggle. They are on sit-in demonstration outside the company till their demands of union formation, revoke of suspension and proper settlement are met. Different unions and workers from different factories from Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal industrial region, including Nerolac, Honda, Maruti Suzuki, Autofit, FCC Rico and Munjal Showa, have come in support of this historic struggle of Sriram Piston Kamgaar Union.

* Organises plant occupations via messenger services like WhatsApp as lockouts fall in cat-and-mouse game
(Business Standard: May 5, 2014)

The events at the Shriram factory are the latest iteration of a trend first seen in 2011 at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar automobile plant. Young and technologically-savvy workers are avoiding older institutional forms of protest, such as notified strikes, demand letters and negotiations. Their inclination is more towards dispersed, “wildcat” (sudden) occupations organised through quiet conversations between shifts, cellphones and mobile messenger services like WhatsApp.
Of late, workers of several companies like Napino Auto and Electronics, Autofit India, Asti Electronics and Baxter India have organised sudden work stoppages that have sometimes turned into prolonged occupations. This March, workers at Napino coordinated a 10-day worker occupation across three separate plants. Officials at Napino and at the labour department in Gurgaon confirmed there was an occupation but declined to go into details.
“Management has changed its tactics,” explains a worker who participated in the occupation at Baxter India, a subsidiary of Baxter Healthcare, an American medical equipment manufacturer. “If you sit on dharna, the company declares a lockout, brings in contract workers and continues production.”
By occupying the plant, workers can halt production and force management to the negotiating table. Statistics bear out his surmise: In 2002, there were 295 strikes and 284 lockouts, according to data gathered by the Labour Bureau. The year 2011 saw 183 strikes versus 185 lockouts. In 2013, there were 134 strikes and only 15 lockouts. A majority of these strikes in 2013, workers and trade unionist say, began as wildcat occupations.
“It is time for top management to look at labour relations as a strategic business process and get it on to their radar screen for regular review,” says Rajeev Dubey, president of the Employers Federation of India, and group human resource president at Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. “We need to think about young people and their aspirations. Here, a mature union has a key role to play in matching aspirations to reality.”
Yet the unrest in India’s industrial estates suggests young workers are in search of a new reality they can call their own.

*** Short reports from eight factories in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi

Young workers employed at Agro Engineering, Dhiman Engineering, Ratna Offset, Bright Brothers, Orient Fan, Globe Capacitor, Harsoria Health Care and Delhi metro report about their working conditions. Translations from issues of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar 2013/14

Orient Fan Worker
(Plot 11, Sector 6, Faridabad)
In the CFL department there are 25 permanent workers and 400 workers hired through contractors on two 12 hours shifts. Overtime is paid at single rate. The workplace is hot. The glass arrives from Thailand. There are two assembly lines, the speed is high. On one line you would need 42 workers, but they run the line with 33 or 35 workers. Instead of the official capacity of 24,000 parts in a 12 hours shift, they produce 30,000. There is no time to sit down for tea, you have to drink standing up, while working. During the lunch-break the lines keep on running, you have to take turns for eating. It is difficult to get drinking-water. The engineer screams a lot, the supervisor grabs people and shakes them. The workers hired through contractor aren’t paid the annual bonus.

Agro Engineering Worker
(Plot 22, Sector 7, IMT Manesar – a second plant is situated in Faridabad)
Workers work from 8 am till 2 or 3 am. Sometimes workers sleep inside the factory. Overtime is paid single rate. The supervisors stand on our heads, they follow us to the toilets, they swear at us. On 11th of July one worker lost his hand in a power-press accident. The parts we produce go directly to Maruti Suzuki.

Globe Capacitor Worker
(30/8 Industrial Area, Faridabad)
Around 700 workers work on two 12 hours shifts in the three floor factory. The shift times change weekly, we work 10 hours on Sunday. Overtime is paid single rate. The 250 permanent workers are paid 5,212 Rs to 6,800 Rs, they are paid the basic wage into their accounts and overtime is paid in cash, it does not appear in any records. The 450 casual workers and workers hired through contractor don’t get ESI or PF and are paid less than the minimum wage. For 30 working days they are paid 7,200 Rs. In April 2012 permanent and casual workers took collective steps and the company had to give concessions. In order to weaken the workers they started to hire workers through contractors. The status of the female workers have changed from casual to hired through contractor and their number has been reduced from 40 to around 20. The male casual workers have kicked out under this or that pretext, their number came down from 250 to 300 to now around 50. The number of workers hired through contractors has increased from zero to 350. The company does not offer a single cup of tea during 12 hours shifts. There are only six toilets, two of them for women, and they are on the third floor. During day-shift workers have to queue up…

Ratna Offset Worker
The company runs factories in Okhla Phase 1, Plot C-99 and Plot C101, and 52 DDA Sheds and Phase 2, Plot F-29. In the printing press on C 101 around 50 workers work on two 12 hours shifts. When the shifts change at the weekends workers have to work from Saturday 9 pm till Sunday 5 pm. The helpers are paid 5,000 Rs, no ESI, no PF. Wages are always paid delayed. When wages were not paid on 18th of February five young workers said that we should stop working. Some older workers then said: We have wives and children, let’s work today and see what happens tomorrow – if they won’t pay, we all stop work. Wages were not paid on the 19th either. The night-shift workers then stopped work. When the day-shift also did not start work on the 20th, the manager fled at around 11 am. The night-shift continued the work stoppage. The son of the chairman/director arrived the next day and asked: why do you stop working. We said that the February wages had not been paid. He replied: you stop work over such a small issue? The workers answered that for them this is rather a big issue. The director’s son then threatened: Go, sit outside then, we will lock the factory. The workers all went outside and sat down together. After a short while the director said: Go and get your money then. Once workers received their payment work started again.

Harsoria Healthcare Worker
(110 Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon)
All casual workers have been dismissed and together with the 180 permanent workers – who are now termed ‘staff’ – there are 250 workers hired through 10 to 12 different contractors. Those workers who had their wages increased to 6,200 Rs in March were paid 5,700 Rs in May and 4,846 Rs in August. The July DA inflation compensation of 120 Rs was not paid. There are two twelve hoursshifts, for overtime they pay 22 Rs an hour. When the production target was increased they stopped over-time. There is much higher work-pressure. Workers injure their hands with needles or when working at machines. There is no first-aid stuff in the factory. Management swears at workers. Money for ESI and PF is cut from the wages, but workers don’t receive either. When you leave the job you don’t get your PF money and no money for the last six working days. Wages are delayed.

Dhiman Engineering Corporation Worker
(Plot 107, HSIDC, Sector 59, Faridabad)
The factory runs on two 12 hours shifts. The shift times change weekly, then workers have to work 24 hours from Sunday 8 pm till Monday 8 pm. During 12 or 24 hours shifts the company does not give even one cup of tea. If you want to get drinking water or go to the toilet, they also trouble you. The director swears a lot. We manufacture plastic parts for Eicher Tractors, Whirlpool, LG and BPL, using injection moulds. The companies’ other factory is nearby in Sector 22 and the situation there is the same. Amongst the helpers the female workers are paid 3,800 to 4,000 Rs and the male workers 4,000 to 4,200 Rs, no ESI or PF. The operators are paid between 4,800 and 7,000 Rs. If you take two days off you are kicked out and the wages of the last 15 to 30 working days are not paid – they say: ‘do whatever you like, we won’t pay you’. I was sleeping after the night-shift on 28th of December 2012 when they informed me about an accident in which my wife’s sister was injured. I left immediately to go to Benares to see her in the hospital and informed the company by phone. My wife’s sister died, I returned after her death ceremonies on 15th of January. When I went to the company they told me to return the next day. The next day they told me that I would not get my job back and that I can collect my final pay on 25th of January. On the 25th of January the managers in the HR department only swore at me and said that they won’t pay, so I went to the room of the managing director. He said I would be paid on the 28th. When I heard nothing on the 28th, I called him at around 1:30 pm. He also swore at me and fearing being beaten up by company managers I filed a complaint at the local police station. The police said they would come on the 29th, but they didn’t. The HR people came a day later and said that I would be paid on the 31st. On 1st of February they said that they are busy…

Bright Brothers Worker
(Plot 16, Sector 24, Faridabad)
There are 60 to 70 permanent workers and 300 workers hired through three different contractors producing plastic parts for Whirlpool fridges. Around 200 workers work on two 12 hours shifts. Demanding higher wages the workers hired through contractor refused to enter the factory on 11th of October 2012 before the morning shift. Till 9 am no worker went inside. The company called a dozen goons, but they just stood around. With the promise to hike the pay the manager took the workers inside. Showing their revolvers six, seven goons walked around in the factory. By ten o’clock they had kicked a dozen workers out of the factory. For three days the goons stayed inside the factory, management said that they were policemen.

Delhi Metro Worker
Between Delhi-Gurgaon-NOIDA there are 149 stations. The contractor Ikkis employs 4,900 workers who work at these stations. The security guards are hired through G4 and Bedi and Bedi. They work continuously without a weekly day off. There are 3,200 cleaning workers. They are paid 5,000 Rs a month – the Delhi minimum wage for unskilled workers is 7,254 Rs. After a complaint nothing has been done about it, instead on 26th of November 2012 the Delhi government assistant labour commissioner ordered that the labour department officials should first undertake a one month inquiry.

One Response to “GurgaonWorkersNews no.9/63”

  1. […] Another theoretical and empirical issue with the theory that ‘unpaid domestic labour’ creates surplus value via value transfer through the wage labour of the (male) recipient of the domestic work: we see the lowest wages and highest levels of exploitation when (male or female) migrant workers come alone to urban or metropolitan areas and leave their families behind in rural parts or the global South. In this case they undertake the domestic labour themselves and their wage is only high enough to reproduce the household ‘back home’, where reproduction costs are cheaper, in particular if the family still engages in subsistence activities, such as small-scale farming. Capitalism thrives in this situation of ‘semi-proletarianisation’ and it is often a struggle of wage workers to earn enough in order to bring the whole family into the urban area of the ‘new country’. This process is described in the concrete terms of the Indian context here. […]

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