Join Convention- intensified assault on Maruti workers: 7 Sept, ISI, Delhi


 
Invitation 
Convention 
INTENSIFIED ASSAULT ON WORKING CLASS:
CHALLENGES FOR DEMOCRACY


7 SEPTEMBER 2012
Indian Social Institute (Lodhi Road, Near Sai Temple)

2 pm – 5 pm

to be addressed by

Maruti workers
S Kumarasami, President of the Pricol Auto Factory Union (Coimbatore), and All-India President, AICCTU,

 Workers and Labour Organisers of Delhi-NCR

Prabhu Mahapatra
Vrinda Grover

Rakhi Sehgal
Neelabh, Editor, Outlook

Colin Gonsalves
ND Pancholi, PUCL
And Other Concerned Citizens

Dear friends,
We are all aware that the recent events in the Maruti’s Manesar factory are in no way an isolated occurrence. In fact, in recent years, there have been several similar incidents in factories all over the country. The incidents at Maruti, Graziano, Rico, Pricol, etc point to a disturbing situation in which industrial democracy is being eroded and even ruthlessly crushed.
The fallout in the Maruti case is especially disturbing. We find that police and paramilitary battalions and ‘ex-Army’ forces are being deployed on the shop floor and around the factory. There is a deliberate attempt at political mobilisation in villages against the workers: village ‘leaders’ are holding meetings in Haryana accusing Maruti workers and unionised workers in general of being ‘anti-development’ and ‘anti-Haryana.’
We feel there is a need to discuss the implications of these developments for our democracy, and to discuss how to break the encirclement in which the working class is increasingly finding itself, in spite of very remarkable trade union struggles.
Towards this, a Convention will be held on 7 September, at ISI, 2 pm-5 pm. At this Convention, Maruti workers will share their own experiences and facts regarding the incident of July 18. S Kumarasami, President of the Pricol Workers’ Union, (also National President of the AICCTU), who is himself facing cooked-up charges of attempt to murder in the 2009 Pricol case, will speak about the Pricol workers’ struggle. Workers and labour organisers working in the Delhi-NCR region will also speak.
We very much hope you can join us in this Convention, and help the workers’ voices to be heard above the shrill cries for ‘reform’ of labour laws and ‘discipline’ for the workers…
In solidarity,

Santosh Roy, Secretary, AICCTU, 7838497013
Sandeep Singh, President, AISA, 9868033425
Kavita Krishnan, 9560756628

‘It’s Easier To Coerce Outsiders And Treat Them Like Slaves’- Maruti Violence


 

Complaining of one-sided media reports, four arrested Maruti employees offer an alternative narrative to the carnage that befell the automaker’s Manesar plant on July 18
Panini Anand, in Outlook

Return to work at Manesar with Maruti? Never again, says Ashok, a 22-year-old worker from the stricken factory, with a shudder. An apprentice for the last three months, Ashok, a native of Hisar, spoke to Outlook hours before he was picked up by the police and charged with murder. The young man, along with 91 other workers of Maruti’s Manesar plant, is now lodged in Gurgaon Central Jail.

Ashok and three other workers protest their innocence, claiming that the cctv footage would prove them right. When informed that the footage was said to have been damaged in the arson, they are incredulous. “The fire might have damaged the camera and the lens, but the footage should be available in the central monitor,” they argue. But after hurried consultations among themselves, they concede that if the fire was caused by a short circuit, it could have stopped the recording.

The first shift that day (6.30 am to 3 pm) was uneventful, they recall. It was only after they had come out of the plant that they found the gate locked and police and security personnel milling at the exit. They were not allowed to punch their attendance card either (the company’s version is that workers from the first shift stubbornly stayed back, indicating that the violence was pre-planned). Those who were arrested say the workers, on being denied permission to leave, grew increasingly restive. Almost four hours later, there was a sudden commotion and several “injured” workers rushed out of the office building. Some were shouting, “bhaago, jaan bachao.” The general word was, “Police aur management kisi ko nahin chhodenge.”

The four are unable (or unwilling) to explain what had led to the commotion or how the workers sustained injuries. But they appear unanimous in their assertion that many more workers were injured that day than managers. They feel the workers’ version is not being aired and that the media is only publishing what it is being briefed by the management and state government.

The workers accuse the company of increasing production without adding to the number of workers or the required machinery. Leave, they recall, was hard to get. They were entitled to just nine days’ leave every year in addition to the weekly off, they claim. Medical and casual leave might have existed on paper, they say, but for every working day they missed beyond the nine sanctioned leave days, the company would deduct `1,500. A maximum of seven days off was permitted for a worker getting married. But if, say, it was a sister’s wedding, any request for more than two days’ leave was frowned upon. “They treat us like slaves,” says 28-year-old Ram Kumar of Jaunpur—the only contract worker amongst the four.

A large number of workers would be suspended for several weeks and months if they protested or did not report for work. Their absorption as regular employees would be put off and their promotion delayed. “The `4,500 paid to me was not even enough to pay for the rent, food and transport and most of us had to fall back upon remittances from home,” complains Ranjit, an apprentice, also hailing from Hisar. “Ek chaddhi tak nahin khareed sakte the,” Ranjit adds, with no little bitterness.

There’s obviously strong resentment against some of the local villagers, particularly those who are opposed to the workers’ agitation in the fear that the plant will be ‘shifted’. The company, they added, would not dare recruit local boys under prevailing working conditions. “It’s easier to coerce outsiders and treat them like slaves,” exclaims one, while his colleague defiantly chips in, “let the local Lotharios survive even 10 days in these conditions.”


(All names have been changed to protect the identities of workers.)

 

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