#India – The Great Fertilizer Robbery


[Investigation] The Great Fertiliser Robbery

Big business houses are diverting subsidised fertilisers meant for poor farmers. G Vishnu exposes a shocking collusion that is costing the country crores of rupees
G Vishnu

2013-07-06 , Issue 27 Volume 10

Photo: AFPPhoto: AFP

Every year, the government spends anywhere between Rs 70,000-Rs 90,000 crore in subsidies to ensure affordable fertilisers for farmers to enable them to get a good yield. Yet, curiously, foodgrain production has not seen much increase, while farmers still continue to complain about unaffordable fertilisers.

In October 2012, TEHELKA had shown how flaws in the government’s pricing policy were letting private players increase fertiliser prices and siphon off subsidies (This Is Why Farmers Can’t Afford Fertilisers by , 1 October). An ongoing  by the Director General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) has now revealed the extent of the scam; how it has spread on a massive scale in the three states of , Maharashtra and Haryana. TEHELKA has access to exclusive information that the DGCEI is probing alleged evasion of excise duty by more than 50 big companies.

Officials detail how over the past five years, these business houses siphoned off 10 million metric tonnes (MT) of -grade urea for which the government had paid more than Rs 2,000 crore as subsidy. Despite having annual turnovers of over Rs 200 crore, these companies also avoided paying more than Rs 300 crore in excise duties to the government in the same period.

Fertilisers are essential to a successful agricultural yield. Over two decades now, the Government of India has been subsidising fertilisers with the aim of easing the burden on farmers. Among the various fertiliser combinations, urea is one of the most utilised. Whereas India produces up to 22 million MT of urea annually, close to 8 million MT is imported. For every tonne produced, the government reimburses the difference between the cost of production and the MRP. Currently, urea is sold at Rs 5,360 per MT ( Rs 5.36 per kilo) and the subsidy ranges between Rs 9,000- Rs 20,000 per MT. Industries that manufacture dyes, colouring agents, resins, plywood, etc, use technical-grade urea, which is priced at Rs 32 per kg (Rs 32,000 per tonne). The government subsidy, however, is only meant for urea used for agriculture and not industrial purposes.

The DGCEI probe, which started as an investigation into the excise duty evasion by manufacturers of CPC Blue (a pigmentation agent that adds colour to paints), also discovered that private players were diverting the urea meant for farming to their own godowns. On top of that, over the past five years, these companies had evaded excise duty in excess of Rs 300 crore by concealing the purchase of urea.

How they did this is a reflection of how deep the rot is. A DGCEI investigating officer describes the situation as “an economy, kind of like a cottage industry, especially in Gujarat. A well-oiled system is in place to facilitate diversion of urea to these companies”. The DGCEI found that in the past five years, two lakh MT of urea has been diverted in Maharashtra and 20,000 MT in Haryana, while around 10 lakh MT has been diverted in Gujarat alone.

Among the many companies who benefited from subsidised urea are big names that include Asahi Songwon (owner Paru Jaykrishna was president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce in 2007-08), Phthalo Color (owned by the Nanavati Group that also owns the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai), Meghmani Organics, Narayan Industries and Narayan Organic, Heubach Intermediates and Ramdev Chemicals in Gujarat. Mazda Colours and Shreyas Intermediates in Maharashtra and Bhabani Pigments in Haryana have also illegally diverted the agriculture- grade urea for their purposes — consequently saving on importing technical -grade urea and paying the customs duty.

These companies — most of them based in Gujarat — would buy urea from ‘trading companies’ such as Karan Chemicals, Lakshya Ventures and Lakshmi Enterprises, who, in turn, would provide fake bills showing purchase of salt. Interestingly, salt is not required at any stage in the production of CPC Blue. Yet, on record, the 50-odd companies had bought 10 lakh MT of salt. For instance, Karan Chemicals, one of the trading companies, has 10 dummy firms that claim to be selling salts to these companies. “They have followed every trick in the book to pull off this scam,” says a dgcei official, showing TEHELKA bills for non-existent mountains of salt.

This fact comes straight from the horse’s mouth. In a written statement to the DGCEI, Piyush Patel, president of CPC Blue Manufacturers’ Association and owner of Ishan Chemicals, has admitted that his own company indulged in this illegal practice.

“So far as the purchase of salt is concerned,” reads a statement by Piyush’s son Shrinal Patel, also director of Ishan Dyes and Chemicals Ltd, “according to the market strategy, we are procuring urea in the guise of salt under the invoices for salt… However, under the compulsion of market strategy and to remain in competition, we had to adopt this way.” Patel’s views are similar to what others who have appeared before the DGCEI probe committee have said.

Distribution of urea comes under the ambit of the state government. Once the Department of Fertilisers (DoF) at the Centre decides on the allocation for states, it is the state agricultural departments’ job to ensure distribution to farmers. This is where the village-level Agriculture Business Centres (ABCs) come into play. These local-level agencies that connect with the farmer play a massive role in giving out fake bills to the Department of Agriculture (DoA) in the name of non-existent farmers. Till now, the DGCEI has raided over 15 ABCs in Gujarat, all of which were found handing out fake bills.

“What we found was simply by carrying out raids and scrutinising documents,” says a DGCEI investigating officer. “It is not possible that the state DoA does not know about these practices. Convenient arrangements have been struck between politicians, bureaucrats and these business houses.”

Little surprise then, that in 2011, the Gujarat government kept demanding more and more urea, even though the state was seeing a drought-like situation. Since 2006, Gujarat has been complaining about urea shortage, at times asking Union Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar to step in. The DGCEI is investigating the probable involvement of some of the cooperatives that manufacture urea in Gujarat such as the Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO), Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers Company Ltd (GNFC), Gujarat State Fertiliser & Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) and the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO).

“Right now, we are probing the 50- odd CPC Blue manufacturing companies under the Customs Act,” says another DGCEI official on condition of anonymity. “The Centre has not shown enough grit to crack down on these practices. If the CBI is to come into the picture tomorrow, all these companies will be charged under the Essential Commodities Act and they can be held criminally accountable.”

Repeated attempts by TEHELKA to get these companies to respond were met with silence. The few who chose to say anything, like Bhabani Pigments and Narayan Organics, declined any wrong-doing on their part. Interestingly though, Shrinal Patel of Ishan Dyes and Chemicals had a different explanation.

“We get the product,” says Patel, “and test it in our lab. If a product works for me, I purchase it. I haven’t bought it from any authorised agency. We have been telling the Central government that we are willing to purchase it at any price, but our condition was that it should be made available locally. On import, the particle size of technical-grade urea is coated with nitrogen on the outside, causing loss, but the government did not accept it.”

That the government has been complicit in the unchecked diversion of fertilisers meant for the poor, gains currency from the DGCEI’s own findings. “Government agencies have played a major role in all this,” says a DGCEI official. “Till now, we have found excise evasion of 300 crore. The diversion of over 10 lakh MT of urea that we have found was from just CPC Blue manufacturers. All we had to do was figure out the scientific formula behind manufacturing CPC Blue — salt does not come anywhere in the process. If we are to figure out the formula for other industries that manufacture resins, plywood, paints and dyes, we should be able to make a complete crackdown on diversion.”

Despite the fact that, since September 2012, the Centre has set up teams in the 17 states to put a check on this practice. Even as recently as 14 March, the Chemical and Fertilisers Secretary Sudhir Mittal wrote to the states, urging them to set up a mechanism to curb diversion.

So, why has nothing happened? Officials in the DoF at the Centre blame the states for lack of transparency, negligence and unwillingness towards bringing diversion and black marketing to a halt.

“Our pricing policy is yet to be implemented,” says an official with the DoF in New Delhi. “Fertiliser prices have been skyrocketing for the past three years, increasing as much as five times in some cases. On the ground, this has resulted in the farmer using a single fertiliser to such an extent that the soil loses value in some years. This has been disastrous for Indian agriculture.”

A senior official at the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers explains how the powerful fertiliser lobby has manipulated the situation to its advantage. “Most politicians do not antagonise this lobby,” he says. “No matter how hard you try to stonewall them, they still find a way to reach you.” The official cites a recent incident, when members of the fertiliser lobby made a presentation in a group of ministers (GoM) meeting much to the surprise of some ministers, who had managed to keep the private players away from influencing policy decisions. Other officials even recall instances when chief ministers have stepped in to stop probes.

These players have such a stranglehold on the sector that in the past three months alone, the ministry has spent Rs 300 crore excess while procuring.

“Around February every year, the DoF determines the quantum of fertilisers needed for the year and the procurement is planned,” says an official working for a PSU that produces fertilisers. “This year too, Indian Potash Limited (IPL, a conglomerate that started as a PSU, but is currently an amalgamation of cooperatives) was given the charge of importing 10 lakh MT of urea. But the ministry cleared only five lakh MT for import. IPL imported the same for $385 per MT in May. By June, when state-owned PSU MMTC placed tenders, the price of urea was $335. By 22 June, when the state-owned STC issued the tender, the price fell to $303. Being a private player, IPL understands the market fluctuations well, but it earned a lot in commissions by placing the order in May. The loss to the government for not giving the charge of import to a PSU was Rs 300 crore.”

Incidentally, the CAG had pulled up IPL in 2011 for getting undue benefits to the tune of Rs 762 crore after fudging its tenders. The explosive CAG report had raised expectations in some ministry circles that wanted to bring reforms and transparency. However, as the recent loss shows, the stranglehold is yet to loosen.

Amidst all this, the Indian farmer continues to lose out, as it is his fertilisers that are getting diverted and hoarded, while he has to buy it at a higher price. In a year when the total amount of subsidy spent on fertilisers touched a whopping Rs 90,000 crore, his fields benefit minimally and he is left wondering where the promised subsidy goes.

vishnu@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 27, Dated 6 July 2013)

 

Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights inMaruti Suzuki India Limited


kama3F

PICTURE COURTESY- FACEBOOK GROUP- I MISLEAD INDIA

https://www.facebook.com/IMisleadIndia

On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana policehave been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale ofpolice action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
2
area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
3
wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
4
management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.

Download full report here

 

Times of India #ILeadIndia #CSR #PR campaign is actually #ImisleadIndia


kama3F

PICTURE COURTESY- FACEBOOK GROUP- I MISLEAD INDIA  https://www.facebook.com/IMisleadIndia 

Editor
Times of India
Subject- I lead India Campaign

Sir,

Times of India  launched the ‘ I lead India ‘ campaign, with great fan fare on May 22, 2013 and which you claim that at a time when Indians are filled with negativity and pessimism, this initiative presents an alternative that goes beyond armchair criticism. It goes Beyond demonstrations and appeals, it urges you to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. According to you, ‘I Lead India’ is a clarion call which seeks to drive change too, but at the grass-root level, in 26 cities of India .
I am sorry I can’t say congratulations !
What a noble intention but do you know ? you have actually started on a wrong foot, by having Maruti Suzuki as your partner , a perpetrator of human rights violations, against its own workers. The workers have been thrown into prison ,, families thrown into trauma, grim future: the sacked Maruti labourers are still harried.
How can a newspaper of national repute like Times of  India, let such a company, which is notorious for suppression of workers democratic right of protest, sponsor the I Lead India Campaign. How can a company which unfairly fires and harasses workers has become a harbinger of change?
The Maruti Suzuki Workers are facing the most brutal repression by the government , although workers have adopted democratic and peaceful means available to demand the release of arrested 147 workers, withdrawal of and reinstatement of terminated 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers, the government has only responded with force and malice and in collusion with the Maruti Suzuki company management.
The Background


Maruti workers had applied to register a new union, independent of the company’s management, on November 4, 2011. The union was registered on February 29, 2012.to  represent over 2500 Maruti workers who went on strike three times last year demanding a union and improvements in their conditions of work.

The struggle in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd , Manesar started with workers demanded their constituional rights for legitimate trade union , they raised their voices demanding abolition of the contract workers system, and have raised their voice for dignified employment against the exploitative Maruti Suzuki Management. For this, they have been targeted and attacked by the management. The government, instead of assuring the rights of workers, has only acted in favour of the anti-worker interests of the company. It is letting loose a reign of terror and police and administrative repression on workers and their supporters.

On 18th July 2012, a supervisor in factory abused and made casteist comment against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. The worker was suspended and no action was taken against the supervisor. This resulted in a protest by the factory workers. The management stooped to the level of arranging 100 bouncers to fight workers , and they were joined by 4000 police force men, the councers and cops were in hand in glove . Some of the factory workers were critically injured and taken to the hospital.
Now the workers are fighting a legal case (State of Haryana Vs. Jiyalal case), under which 149 workers were sent to prison l. Police lodged an FIR. 59 workers names were written and 500/600 workers under the unknown category. Under the charge sheet 13 charges were put on 211 workers. Just before the charge sheet 66 workers were arrested on a Non- Bailable warrant. Some of them were not even involved but were considered future trouble makers. 2300 workers were dismissed from the Maruti factory. The case is still going on. The 211 workers are still waiting for a court hearing. The 2300 workers still remain jobless and are fighting to get their jobs back.
The workers have taken to the most peaceful means of protest since the dharna started on 24th March 2013, which included an 8 day fast unto death, which they broke after the Haryana Chief Ministers assurance. They have shown during this phase and also during the entire phase of the strikes in 2011 that they are unitedly asking for their rights in an exemplary show of democratic spirit, but the company and the state government is determined to distort reality and portray them as criminals. It is not even allowing them their democratic right to protest, either in Gurgaon, Manesar or in Kaithal.

In the Video below Wife of an arrested Maruti Worker.speakes, listen

The true face of Maruti Suzuki Management, is exposed in this letter from prison by the Maruti Suzuki Workers -

I quote

We all are children of workers and peasants. Our parents, with huge effort and sacrifice, ensured our 10th standard, 12th standard or ITI education, helped us stand on our feet to do something worthy in our life and help our family in need. We all joined Maruti Suzuki company after passing the written and viva-voce tests conducted by the company and on the terms and conditions set by the company. Before our joining, the company carried out all kinds of investigations, like police verification of our residential proof or whether we had criminal records! Neither of us had any previous criminal record. When we joined the company, the Manesar plant of the company was under construction. At that stage we foreseeing our future with the progress of the plant invested huge energy and diligence to lift the Manesar plant of the company to a new height. When the entire world was struggling under the economic crisis, we worked extra two hours daily to materialize a production of 10.5 lakh cars in a year. We were the sole creators of the increasing profit of the company, and today we are implicated as criminals and murderers, and those who engage in ‘mindless arson’! Almost all of us are from poor worker or peasant families which has been dependent on our job. We were struggling to weave dreams for our and our family’s future, such as of our own homes, of the better education for our brothers-sisters and children so that they could have a bright future and ensure a comfortable life for their parents who took the pain to bring after them. But in return, we were being exploited inside the company in all possible ways, such as:

1. At work, if any worker was unwell, he was not allowed to go to the dispensary and was forced to continue with the work in that condition.

2. We were not allowed to go to the toilet, the permission was there only at tea or lunch time.

3. Management used to behave with the workers very rudely with abusive language, and used to even slap or make them murga in order to punish them.

4. If a worker was forced to take 3-4 days leave because of his ill health or some accident or other serious problem in his family or because of the death of a relative, then half of his salary which amounted to almost Rs. 9000 used to be deducted by the company.

You can Read the full lettter here

Recently, the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR). team constituting of lawyers and trade unionists from India, France, Japan, South Africa, the USA , were on a visit to investigate the incidents that led to the summary dismissal of over 500 permanent workers and over 1800 contract workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in August 2012. The team stated in their preliminary report that the alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva , as If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms. Maruti Suzuki is planning to set up a plant in South Africa, ICLR informed that the labour organisations there will oppose it , recognising human rights violations of the company in India .

The Preliminary Report can be read here

Although, Times of India is covering the protest I am amazed that you did not realise that your own public relation campaign could backlash, if you have maruti suzuki as a co sponsor ? It didn’t strike you , that there were workers striking and protesting against the oppression of maruti suzuki management ? Or wait a minute, Is it that Maruti Suzuki Management wanted to improve their image by involving in I lead india campaign and they are shit scared , because the movement by the Manser factory workers and the immense support it got from the entire country makes them in piss in their pants and also the fact that their sales figures had dropped immediately following the Manesar fiasco.

The Times of India, National newspaper claims to be India’s s most widely read English newspaper with readership over 7.6 million .It has some accountability towards its readers.

I demand Times of India to withdraw Maruti Suzuki’s ‘s sponsorship from I lead India Campaign and stop selling activism through this facade a campaign of corporate social responsibility of Maruti Suzuki.

Its like ‘ Nau sau chuhe kha ke billi ko haj ko chali “
I lead campaign ka TIME KHATAM
Sincerely
An Ashamed , Times of India Reader

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Mumbai
P.S- And if the I lead India campaign team, is still confused and unaware , what I have stated above, do check out http://marutisuzukiworkersunion.wordpress.com/

ICLR- Workers in Maruti Suzuki Manesar plant – Justice Delayed is Justice Denied #ILO


Preliminary report of the findings of the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON LABOUR RIGHTSreleased on 31 May 2013, New Delhi

The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) constituted a team of lawyers and trade unionists from France, Japan, South Africa, the USA and India to investigate the incidents that led to the summary dismissal of over 500 permanent workers and over 1800 contract workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in August 2012. The team was constituted to bring international law and policy perspectives to bear on a situation that has festered for almost a year, with – at a minimum – 147 workers in jail over that period. The Commission reminds the Government of India that, under well-recognised international and domestic principles, “justice delayed is justice denied.”

The group also brings important comparative perspectives on the current or proposed role of this company in the global economy. MSIL has a parent company in Japan, substantial exports to Africa and Europe, a proposed assembly plant in South Africa, and an investor base in the United States – understanding the company’s practices in India is an imperative for those committed to corporate accountability and sustainable development jurisdictions outside India.

From May 25 to 31, the team has been in India studying the situation at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki. The work of the Commission has included

- meetings with members of the Provisional Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) and other terminated workers of the Manesar plant as well as their families

- visit with the individuals currently in jail in Kaithal

- discussions with the leadership of national trade union centres AITUC, CITU and HMS, and plant-level unions in Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera industrial areas, and with the representative of the global union federation, IndustriALL

- consultations with MSWU’s advocates and legal counsels

- interviews with the administration of the state of Haryana, including Director General of Police, the Commissioner of Police (Gurgaon) and the Joint Labour Commissioner

- meeting with the Haryana State Human Rights Commission

- attended court hearings

- meeting with representatives of the CII and ASSOCHAM, particularly since the management of Maruti-Suzuki India Limited refused to meet the delegation in spite of an extensive exchange of faxes and emails.

- perusal of documents, tripartite agreements, court records and police reports of the dispute between MSIL and the workers at its Manesar plant.

Maruti-Suzuki began operations in Manesar in 2006, employing trainees for up to three years and contract workers who performed the same tasks as permanent workers in core areas of manufacturing activity. Media reports that remain unchallenged by management and the testimonies we received from workers of the Manesar plant record an experience of extremely high work intensity, with unpaid forced overtime work, wage deductions even for planned leave and overbearing and abusive supervision and invasive surveillance.

The key findings of the team are:

1. The management of Maruti Suzuki India Limited at its Manesar plant:

1.1 Since sometime in 2011 but certainly from early June 2011, coerced workers to join the Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, an organization that management had been instrumental in constituting in the Company’s Gurgaon plant, in violation of ILO Convention 87 which stipulates that employers refrain from interference in workers’ trade union activity. The management further violated this principle by interfering with workers’ right to forming and joining a union of their own choice, over the course of many months.

1.2 Following the registration of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) on 1 March 2012, and the submission of the Charter of Demands by the union on 18 April 2012, Maruti Suzuki management violated core principles of bargaining in good faith, as set forth in ILO Convention 98. Of particular concern is the allegation that Maruti Suzuki refused to negotiate on a core issue related to terms and conditions of work – the use and treatment of contract workers. This further vitiated industrial peace, and created an industrial dispute.

1.3 On 18 July 2011, it is alleged that a supervisor addressed a worker with a caste slur. Maruti Suzuki’s failure to address this promptly, through an impartial internal inquiry, is a violation of other Conventions of the ILO, particularly those relating to workplace discrimination. This has a bearing not only on the rights of individual workers, but on the possibility of enduring industrial peace.

1.4 If indeed the management was effectively managing the Manesar plant under the rules it had created for itself, including the Employment Standing Orders, it is difficult to understand how workers could have been responsible for the alleged acts of violence and arson of 18 July 2012, since workers were required to be thoroughly frisked every day before they entered the plant.

1.5 In August 2012, the management summarily and without following due process of law dismissed 546 permanent workers, and terminated the services of over 1800 contract workers. The termination of these workers, who were known to be leaders, members or sympathizers of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union, constitutes impermissible retaliation against those exercising their right to form and join a union of their choice.

2. Role of Labour Department

2.1 The dispute at the Manesar plant arose since the Registrar of Trade Unions refused to register the trade union of the workers’ choice in June 2011, in violation of the principle, in ILO Convention 87, that the state may not require “previous authorization” of a union. Under the Convention, registration must remain a formality, with no role for the authorities to exercise inappropriate discretion.

2.2 Following the events of June 2011, the Labour Department failed to act to protect the workers’ right to association.

2.3 The Labour department failed to serve as an appropriate administrative and adjudicative body of labour matters, especially those connected to industrial relations, as required by ILO Conventions. In particular, on multiple occasions, it did not act on available information that a significant industrial dispute was underway, and to ensure effective conciliation proceedings. Most importantly, it utterly abdicated its responsibility to address the dispute regarding the summary dismissal of 547 permanent workmen in August 2012.

3. Role of the Police:

3.1 The involvement of police including the admitted use of police intelligence branch in maintenance of industrial peace amounted to inappropriate interference by the state with workers’ rights of assembly and association. ILO Convention 87 recognizes the centrality of civil liberties to the free exercise of trade union rights.

3.2 The police deployed a large detachment at the factory gate and inside the plant based on complaints and calls from the management of Maruti Suzuki without adequate cause of action or enquiry or investigation, thereby serving as coercive pressure on peaceful worker protest,

3.3 The police failed to act to protect citizens, including their right to life, and remained a silent observer to the events of 18 July, admittedly at the request of the Maruti Suzuki management, at the Manesar factory gate on 18 July,

3.4 Workers were arbitrarily arrested after the 18 July incident based on one FIR lodged by the Security Manager of the Company, again in violation of the guarantees of Convention 87. Families were harassed and illegally detained to coerce workers to surrender in gross violation of their human rights.

3.5 The workers were arrested and kept in police custody for several days and subjected to severe torture. Independent medical examination sought by the workers’ counsel and directed by court order was delayed by a month and even then it revealed deep injuries.

3.6 The police opposed bail of workers not even named in the Maruti Suzuki FIR of 18 July despite the inability of police investigation to produce proof of involvement.

3.7 The Government of Haryana constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the incidence of violence at the Manesar plant. The entire Report of the SIT has not been made available to the workers’ counsel to protect the identity of unnamed witnesses in the Report. This is in violation of International Standards of witness protection and collaboration with justice.

3.8 Subsequently police have launched a consistent attack on the workers right to democratic dissent by refusing to allow peaceful protests both in Gurgaon and in Kaithal. The arbitrary arrest of one member of the Provisional committee not named in the FIR or by any eye witness before a press meet and the enforcement of IPC Section 144 in Kaithal and the arrest of 95 workers from their sit-in protest site the night before their planned protest on 19 May 2013 and the subsequent lathi charge on the peaceful sit in on 19 May and the arrests thereafter only creates an atmosphere of terror. Again, this has taken place in violation of the understanding promoted by ILO Convention 87 that the right of association and the right of peaceful assembly and protest are closely interlinked.

Based on these key findings the ICLR notes that (1) the management of Maruti Suzuki has engaged in significant violations of law with respect to the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to equal pay for equal work, (2) the Labour Department has been ineffective in ensuring the rule of law and (3) the Police has transgressed its powers amounting to interference in industrial disputes and yet failed to act when it should have.

In view of foregoing the ICLR team recommends:

1. Grant of bail to the 147 workers of the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki in Bhondsi Jail since 19 July 2012 and for 11 workers at the Kaithal Jail arrested on 19 May 2013 and refrain from the threat of arbitrary arrests to terrorise workers and their families,

2. Immediate constitution of independent impartial inquiry to investigate the circumstances from 4 June 2011 that led up to the incident of 18 July 2012, including into the custodial torture of the workers.

3. The immediate reinstatement of all workers on the rolls of Maruti Suzuki as on 17 July 2012,

4. The Labour Department must ensure through the tripartite machinery that the management of Maruti Suzuki negotiates with the union of the workers choice in good faith,

Furthermore, the ICLR team urges Government to:

5. Create an industrial relations machinery that enables an adequate firewall between the state’s labour department and its police force

6. Seek technical assistance from the ILO to bring its labour administration and adjudication processes into compliance with international standards, in terms of a) the framework for union registration, recognition, and collective bargaining and b) protections for workers’ right to form and join a union of their choice that are in consonance with ILO conventions 87 and 98.

Contact:

Ashwini Sukthankar +91 94 82 79 05 87

N Vasudevan +91 98 21 53 66 76

The final ICLR report on Maruti Suzuki will be released on 13 June 2013.

 

The ICLR team members are:

1. Ashwini Sukthankar, International Commission for Labour Rights

2. Masuo Kato, National Confederation of Trade Unions – Zenroren, Japan

3. Yasuhisa Ota, National Confederation of Trade Unions – Zenroren, Japan

4. Suzanne Adely, United Autoworkers, USA

5. Immanuel Ness, City University, New York, USA

6. Franceline Lepany, Labour Lawyer, France

7. Cherie Monaisa, COSATU, South Africa

8. N Vasudevan, New Trade Union Initiative, India

The International Commission for Labour Rights is a global network of labour lawyers and labour experts, providing critical assistance to workers and trade unions around the world. We have conducted fact-findings in Mexico, Colombia, the United States, and many other countries where workers have complained about violations.

 

ILO, UNHRC to take up labour issues at Maruti Suzuki


By Harpreet Bajwa – CHANDIGARH

New Indian Express online, 31st May 2013 

The alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva next week by the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR).

The special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association,  an independent expert appointed by the [UN] Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country a specific human rights theme, will also look into the matter.

A seven-member ICLR team met the Haryana DGP and other state government officials on Thursday. However, it could not meet Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Maruti-Suzuki management with the latter refusing to meet them.

International human rights lawyer and team member Suzanne Adely said: “We will take this issue of repressing rights of Maruti workers and the state police booking them in different cases with the special rapporteur next week. We will also take up this case with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).” “This company is also planning to set up a plant in South Africa. The labour organisations there will oppose it as our team there was a member from the labour organisations of that country. If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms,”  said Ashwini Sukthankar, an international labour lawyer and ICLR member.

Another team member Kato, a retired International Secretary of the National Confederation of Trade Union of Japan, said: “ We shall build awareness on this incident at the Manesar plant among Japanese workers so we can build solidarity for the Indian workers in Japan and develop a sustained campaign for protection of dignity and labour rights of Indian workers.”

“We will take up the issue of Maruti workers with senators in the US and also advise the industry there not to invest in Haryana,” said Immanuel Ness, professor of political science at City University, New York.

New Trade Union Initiative national secretary N Vasudevan said that the basic issue in the dispute is not allowing the formation of an independent workers’ union.

Press Release- ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited


1
People’s Union for Democratic Rights
23 May 2013
Press Release
Release of PUDR report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’(May 2013) at Press Conference in Chandigarh
On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana police have been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale of police action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
2
area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
3
wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
4
management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.
D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
Secretaries, PUDR

 

Unions, left-wing outfits demand release of Maruti workers


BS Reporter  |  New Delhi  May 20, 2013 Last Updated at 12:28 IST

Slam Police lathi-charge on demonstration by families of 147 workers arrested last July for Gurgaon violence

Police action against protesting workers of Maruti Suzuki in Kaithal in Haryana during the weekend has drawn criticism from trade unions and some left wing organisations, who have renewed demands to free the 147 workers arrested in July last year after the violence in the Gurgaon plant.

Police lathi-charged a demonstration of workers’ families outside the residence of Haryana Industry Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and arrested about 100 workers and their family members from the dharna site at the Kaithal mini secretariat on the night of May 18. Workers had given an ultimatum on may 8 to release all 147 Maruti workers arrested after the July violence. They had threatened to demonstrate outside the house of Surjewala on May 18.

The workers and their family members have been sitting on a dharna at the Mini Secretariat from 28 April demanding release of the 147 workers in Gurgaon Jail and reinstatement of the workers, both permanent and contract, terminated without enquiry following the 18 July incident.

Said a senior trade union leader from All India Trade Union Congress: AITUC has expressed solidarity with the protesting workers.

He said that the unions formed at these factories are not affiliated with any central union and have been supported by various organisations including local political parties.

According to the New Trade Union Initiative a workers organisation that weaves together small groups and unions,  84 Sarpanches from across Haryana had extended their support to the Maruti Suzuki workers struggle at the last demonstration of the workers at Kaithal on 8 May, The Haryana Government has stopped the funds to these Panchayats. Thus it is using both brute force and its fiscal powers to obliterate the struggle of the workers and put down the solidarity and support mobilised by the Sarpanches across the state, NTUI said.

“We continue to stand in solidarity with the struggle of the members of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and their demand for a fair inquiry, release of the arrested workers and reinstatement of the workers terminated after the 18 July 2012 incident. This struggle against capital and the complicit state is a critical turning point in upholding democratic rights of the working class,” a joint statement by four different organizations supporting Kaithal workers said. These are NTUI, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Association for Democratic Rights and People’s Union of Civil Rights.

 

Protests against Maruti Suzuki management and Haryana Government’s pro-capitalist stance


Check out video of the protests by Maruti Suzuki workers and activists in front of Haryana Bhavan in Delhi on May 18th:

Different organizations including Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, KNS (Krantikari Nawjana Sabha) and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) have been behind the protests going on for several months against the repressive measures by the Maruti Suzuki Management as well as the Haryana government under Chief Minister Hooda. The Haryana Government has unleashed brutal aggression on the peaceful protesters, who have been demanding the immediate release of all those arrested under false premises, most recently on the night of May 19th, to prevent workers from joining a dharna the next day on May 20th. Despite the arrests to try and intimidate the Maruti Suzuki Workers and activists, the protest in front of Haryana Bhavan went on as planned. But once again the Hooda Government showed its true color by exposing its dirty nexus with the capitalists.

On May 20, when the protesters tried to reach the ministers’ office, they were attacked by policemen who lathicharged the unarmed protesters, injuring several of them, while some were reportedly arrested as well.

Maruti Suzuki Workers Protest

Photo Courtesy: Radical Notes

The demands are absolutely legitimate, since it is the legal and ethical right of workers to get organized. But the Maruti Suzuki management has created the trouble by not allowing the workers to form their new union. Instead, with help from the Hooda government, MarutiSuzuki management fired several permanent workers, who are still jobless (thanks to the jobless “growth” under the neo liberal economic onslaught anyway). Many workers  and activists have been threatened by the police and harassed, like arresting them from their homes and that too late at night. This naturally helps because when they nab the protesters individually, they are at their vulnerable most. Therefore, the workers are demanding immediate reinstatement of the fired permanent workers and making all the casual ones permanent with immediate effect. Activists suggest that this movement has been one of the brightest examples of working class unity in recent times, whereby not only casual workers’ rights have come to the fore from permanent workers but also the highly spirited way the workers are protesting from an anti capitalist viewpoint.

 

PRESS RELEASE- 147 workers of Maruti Suzuki Union in Kaithal Arrested


MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION
Reg. No. 1923
IMT Manesar
PRESS RELEASE: 20th May 2013
We are facing one of the most brutal repression by the government on our movement. While we have adopted the democratic and peaceful means available to demand the release of arrested 147 workers, withdrawal of and reinstatement of terminated 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers, the government has only responded with force and malice and in collusion with the Maruti Suzuki company management.
Our peaceful dharna has been going on since 24th March, which included hunger strike, deputations, rallies, which are all in the ambit of our democratic right guaranteed in the Constitution. This was forcibly broken on 18th May by the huge police force of thousands of personnel in riot gear, tear gas etc. They came in before curfew under Sec.144 was declared on the entire town of Kaithal at 5pm with effect till midnight of 19th May to prevent our call for a protest demonstration on 19th May in front of the residence of Haryana Industries and Commerce Minister, Randip Singh Surjewala. Thousands of people from across Haryana and other pro-worker people from across the country were to come to express solidarity.
At 11.30pm on 18th May those on the site of the dharna, 96 workers and activists were arrested and sent to Kaithal Jail under Sections 188, 341, 506, 511. This includes a member of the Provisional Working Committee, MSWU, Yogesh Gawande, and two Trade Union activists who have been coming in support, Shyamveer who is a correspondent of the workers newspaper, Nagrik and an activist with Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, and Amit and who is a workers’ movement activist and current Phd student in Economics dept, CESP, JNU, New Delhi. On the morning of 19th May, 4 more workers were arrested from their homes in the villages nearby.
On 19th May 2013, we decided to go ahead with our pre-declared program, and around 1500 people started coming in solidarity from across Haryana in the morning. These included primarily workers and our family members and relatives, and people from village Panchayats, democratic and mass organizations and individuals. A huge police force and CID Haryana personnel were all over the Bus Station, Railway Station and all points in the town to follow and stop anyone who was coming for support. We gathered near Pyoda village 2km from the city limits, and started to peacefully march to register our protest, that all those arrested on 18th May night be released immediately so that talks can happen. Barricades and a huge police contingent of over 2000 personnel with water cannons and tear gas vehicles, stopped us on the road next to Surjewala’s residence.
At 6.30pm, without any warning, the stationed police force started a brutal lathi-charge and tear gas and water cannons were unleashed mercilessly on the protestors, which included in large majority, women, children and old men. Hundreds were seriously injured and admitted to the hospital. The police came with a second round of lathi-charge when people were still in a state of shock. The government has acted with malicious intention, and with a view to crush the struggle while all wanted to do was register our peaceful protest in front of our elected representatives, and yesterday’s actions and arrests shows this.
Eleven workers and activists were arrested on completely fabricated charges of serious nature. These are:
 Ramniwas of Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union
 Deepak Bakshi who is advisor to the MSWU and General Secretary of Hindustan Motors-Sangrami Shramik Karamchari Union, Kolkata
 Somnath who is a correspondent of the workers newspaper, Shramik Shakti
 Suresh Koth, who is panchayat leader from Koth village, Hissar dist, Haryana
 Nitish
 Mangtu
 Premchand
 and three more people, whose names are still unclear.
They have been charged under non-bailable Sections 148, 149, 188, 283, 332, 353, 186, 341, 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC, 3 of P/D, TPDA, 8NH for blocking the highway and 25 (54 and 59) of the Arms Act. They have been
produced in the Kaithal Court today 20th May 2013 and sent to 14days of Judicial Custody.
This is a serious pre-meditated assault on especially those of the active workers and activists who have stood in solidarity with us and to show us again as criminals only because we continue to protest against the wrongs that have been done to us for the last two years since 4th June 2011, and especially since 18th July 2012 when it became apparent that the government is openly siding with the company against workers and activists. This is the reward the government has again given us workers for asking for our rights which are guaranteed in the Constitution.
We appeal to all workers, trade unions and workers organizations, democratic rights and civil rights organizations and mass organizations and democratic minded individuals and to come out in protest in this hour when we need all forms of solidarity. We reiterate our just demands of releasing all the arrested workers and activists and reinstatement of terminated workers.
Provisional Working Committee
Maruti Suzuki Workers Unio n

 

#India – Govt paid lawyer Rs 1.44 cr to fight Maruti Suzuki case #WTFnews


BT Online Bureau    Gurgaon   May 16, 2013
File photo of Maruti Suzuki's Manesar unit after the violence

File photo of Maruti Suzuki‘s Manesar unit after the violence. PHOTO: AP

The Haryana government paid Rs 1.44 crore as fees to Special public prosecutor K.T.S. Tulsi in the past six months for fighting the case against workers involved in the violence at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar unit last year.

In reply to a Right to Information application, Rajendra Pathak of All India Lawyers’ Union has said Tulsi was appointed by the Haryana government to fight the case against 147 workers prosecuted by the police for their involvement in the violence at the passenger car maker’s plant on July 18 last year. “He has been paid Rs 1,43,96,750″.

SPECIAL: Aroon Purie and Chaitanya Kalbag speak to Osamu Suzuki after Manesar violence

Tulsi was appointed by the state government in August last year. The violence at the Maruti Suzuki unit had claimed the life of a senior company official while about hundred others were left injured.