Maruti Strike : Appeal from support group; statement against attack by guards

June 15, 2011

Attack by company security guards on activists addressing public meetings in support of Maruti Suzuki workers

by Citizens Front in Support of Workers Movement of Maruti Suzuki

New Delhi, 15 June. Activists of Bigul Mazdoor Dasta who were addressing public meetings in support of the workers agitation in Maruti Suzuki were attacked in Gurgaon and Manesar last evening and this morning by private security guards of Maruti Suzuki and musclemen allegedly hired by the company.

Roopesh Kumar of the Bigul Mazdoor Dasta said that they are holding street corner meetings in Manesar and Gurgaon and distributing pamphlets tomobilise support in favour of the workers’ demands. They were addressing a meeting in Aliyar village near the Maruti factory in Manesar when more than a dozen armed men reached there on bikes and a jeep and attacked them. They included uniformed guards of the Group Four company hired by the Maruti Suzuki company. They abused and beat them and chased away about 250 workers assembled there by threatning them with their weapons. They were shouting that this is “Maruti’sarea and no one will be allowed to speak against the management of Maruti”.

This morning, the private security guards of Maruti Suzuki again attacked the activists in Maulahera village and sector 22 near the Gurgaon based plant ofMaruti Suzuki. A large number of Maruti workers live in this area. Armed guards in two vehicles beat up 8-9 activits and snatched about 2000 workers from them. They were trying to forcibly take two activists with them in the jeep but had to back off due to resistance of the workers and other activists. They went away brandishing their arms and shouting threats. The name of one of the guards was Rajkumar and his mobile number is 9891982269.

Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Delhi Metro Kamgar Union and Citizens Front in Support of Workers Movement of Maruti Suzuki have severely condemned this incident. They have said that hired goons of Maruti in the garb of security guards are now attacking even those who are supporting the workers in a democratic manner. It seems like Gurgaon is now ruled by the Maruti Suzuki company instead of the Haryana administration and Maruti’s security guards have usurped the role of police in the reagion.

They said the company is only hurting itself by indulging in such cheap tactics. This goondagardi and cheap tactics to break the workers strike by the company will be exposed throughout the country and even on international level. The recently formed Citizens Front in Support of Workers Movement of MarutiSuzuki has appealed to civil rights activists, intellectuals, jurists, media persons and social activists to support the Maruti workers agitating peacefully for their lawful rights. It has also called upon the people to send their protets to the Haryana Chief Minister and the top management of Maruti Suzuki India and Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan.

The front has said that the management is trying to end the strike by tiring out and threatening the workers and is using all sorts of lowly tactics. They are forcing the contract workers to take their wages and go away. Even the family members of workers are being pressurised to ask them to end the strike. For this reason the negotiations are dragging on despite the Maruti management adament on not accepting any of the demands.

The front has criticised the role of the central unions saying that some unions have been trying to “own” the agitation and claiming that the newly formed union is affiliated to them but the reality is that they have done nothing to support the workers except issuing statements in the media.

At least 2 million workers work in hundreds of units situated in the vast industrial belt in and around Gurgaon. There are around 1 million workers work in the units of automobile industry alone. These workers who produce auto parts for companies from all over the world in modern factories have to work in very bad conditions. More than 90 percent of these are contract workers who work for 10-12 hours for 4000-5000 per month. The workload and speed is extremely high and they have to face verbal abuse and even beatings by the supervisors and security guards. Most of the factories do not have unions and where the workers have managed to form a union, they have to face constant harrassment. The established big unions do nothing except paying lip service to the issues and in many cases have ditched the workers in favour of the management. In this scenario, the issue of the right to form a union is a common and universal issue in the Gurgaon industrial belt.

The pamphlet distributed by the Bigul Mazdoor Dasta says that not only the workers of Maruti Suzuki but workers all over the country are being denied the right to form their unions so that they can raise their voice unitedly against their exploitation. That’s why the demands of Maruti workers find resonance accross the region. If the Maruti strike is crushed the owners will become even more aggressive in the factories of Gurgaon and the workers’ voice will be even more stifled.

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An appeal to extend support to the agitating workers of Maruti Suzuki at Manesar

from Citizens Front in Support of the Maruti Udyog Workers’ movement

More than 2000 workers of the Maruti Suzuki factory at Manesar, Gurgaon are on strike since last June 4 and are sitting inside the factory itself. Their demands are totally lawful. For now they are just demanding that their legal right to form their own union be recognised. According to them, the Maruti Udyog Workers’ Union based at the Gurgaon plant which is recognized by the Maruti management is totally under control of management and it has been ignoring the demands of the workers of Manesar factory. As per the labour law, they have all the rights to form their own union and all the workers support this demand. These include a large number of contract workers and apprentice workers who have been working in the factory for years.

But the management of Maruti, in a totally illegal manner, has refused to give recognition to the union and is adopting fascist tactics to break the agitation. It is getting open support from the Congress government of Haryana in this move.

The documents which were submitted by the workers to the office of labour commissioner of Haryana at Chandigarh by the workers were immediately sent by the labour commissioner to the management of Maruti Suzuki through fax. After this, the management started pressurising the workers to sign on a blank paper. According to the workers, it was to be used as an undertaking from them that they wanted to remain in the old union itself. It was against the threats and intimidation and forcibly taking signatures that the workers went on strike from June 4 and decided to stay put within the factory itself.

The management immediately declared the strike as illegal and the 11 leading workers were dismissed. Even the Haryana government followed suit and has declared the movement as illegal.

The workers are sitting inside the factory gates for last 10 days. The management has disconnected the electricity and water supply in the factory premises and even the canteen has been closed down. The workers are sitting in the same dress for last 11 days in excruciating summer heat but they are sticking to their demands. Large number of police personnel and armed security guards of Maruti are deployed at the factory gate who stop everyone at a distance of 100 meter from the factory gate. Not even the media persons and the relatives of workers are being allowed to meet the workers. The relatives who take food to the workers inside are also being threatened and intimidated.

The state government is brazenly standing with the management of Maruti Suzuki. For last few days, a farce of negotiations was being played in the presence of the labour minister of the state in which the management remained adamant on not giving recognition to the union and not reinstating the 11 dismissed workers. But the labour minister has given a statement that “the kids (i.e. the workers) are committing stupidity. These days one hardly gets a job and therefore they must return to work”. Openly forsaking his responsibility to enforce law he has said that now the state government would not intervene between the management and the workers. In other words, the management is free to deal with the workers in whatever manner it wants.

The management is trying to end the strike by tiring out the workers, threats and cheap tricks to demoralise them. The contract workers are being forced to take their remaining wages and leave the premises. Even the workers’ families are being pressurised to ask them to end the strike. The farce of talks is being extended even while the Maruti Suzuki management is not ready to negotiate on any of the demands.

The central unions have played the same role they have been playing in most of the struggles in the past years. Some unions have been trying to “own” the agitation and claiming that the newly formed union is affiliated to them but the reality is that they have done nothing to support this militant strike continuing since July 4 except issuing statements in the media.

At least 2 million workers work in hundreds of units situated in the vast industrial belt in and around Gurgaon. There are around 1 million workers work in the units of automobile industry alone. These workers who produce auto parts for companies from all over the world in modern factories have to work in very bad conditions. More than 90 percent of these are contract workers who work for 10-12 hours for 4000-5000 per month. The workload and speed is extremely high and they have to face verbal abuse and even beatings by the supervisors and security guards. Most of the factories do not have unions and where the workers have managed to form a union, they have to face constant harrassment. The established big unions do nothing except paying lip service to the issues and in many cases have ditched the workers in favour of the management. In this scenario, the issue of the right to form a union is a common and universal issue in the Gurgaon industrial belt.

The workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar may earn a little bit more than other workers but they too work in very bad conditions. The work load is very high and sometimes they have to work for even 16 hours at a stretch. Getting a leave or off day is extremely difficult and heavy fines are imposed for even a few minutes delay. They get two short breaks of 7-8 minutes for lunch and tea, even toilet breaks are not allowed in between. They have to face abuses and threats if they refuse to work overtime. This is the reason behind the resolute struggle of the workers to form their separate union.

We appeal to all democratic rights activists, intellectuals, jurists, media persons and justice loving citizens for solidarity and support to their just struggle.

What you can do:

– We request that you send a letter of protest through email, fax, phone, letter and telegram to the Chief Minister, chief secretary, labour minister and labour secretary of Haryana and the officials of Maruti Suzuki India and Suzuki Japan, send memorandums and run a signature campaign to protest the repression of workers. The addresses, email ids, fax number etc are given below.

– Spread the news of this agitaion through your website, blog and facebook and appeal for support.

– We request that teams of civil rights activists should come to Gurgaon and investigate the situation, prepare their report and let the voice of justice reach the government and people.

– We urge that you organise protest demonstrations on this issue in Delhi, Chandigarh and other cities of the country.

– If friends from Delhi and other cities can come to Gurgaon and extend their support to the workers’ movement and launch a ‘satyagrah’ in their support, it will strenthen their struggle.

Contact: Sandeep (8447011935), Sourav (9811841341), Satyam (9910462009), Rupesh (9213639072)

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Statement from labour organisations expressing solidarity with the workers’ movement at Maruti Udyog

June 14, 2011

New Delhi. Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Delhi Metro Kamgar Union and Joint Workers’ struggle front have extended their support to the ongoing labour movement in the factory of Maruti Udyog at Manesar and have strongly condemned the measures adopted by the management and Haryana government directed towards repression of the strike. The Haryana government has blatantly sided with the management and has declared the strike as illegal.

In reality the illegal action is being committed by the Maruti Udyog and the Haryana government in this case as they are denying the workers of their legal rights of forming union. The manner in which the application for the registration of union handed over by the workers to the office of labour commissioner was immediately sent to the management through fax is a proof of the complicity of the labour department and the management. Afterwards, the management began to forcibly take workers’ signature on plain paper against which the workers had to adopt the path of strike. Strict action should be taken against the officials of labour department of Haryana who were involved in such an act.

A team of Bigul Mazdoor Dasta tried to meet the agitating workers in Manesar twice but the police and security guards stopped them at a distance of 100-150 meter from the factory gate. The team spoke to some workers and their relatives who were present outside. From last two days the administration has prohibited not only the labour organizations but also the media persons and the workers’ relatives to talk to the workers.

With the help of administration, the management has held hostage to the workers inside the company premises like prisoners. In order to break their morale, even the basic facilities such as electricity, water and toilet are not being provided. The canteen has been shut down and even the relatives who are taking food inside are being harassed and threatened. From last nine days, all the workers are dressed in the same cloth. The condition of at least two workers had deteriorated and they have been admitted to hospital. If a worker tries to come out to meet his relatives, he is pushed outside and the gate is closed and he is not allowed to go inside to join his colleagues.

It is noteworthy that these workers are on strike with the demand of forming a new union separate from the management supported Maruti-Suzuki workers’ union. This strike enjoys the support of all the workers of Manesar plant which include both the casual as well as permanent workers. The workers have submitted the documents related to the registration of their new union to the labour commissioner of Chandigarh. But going against his duty, the labour commissioner immediately faxed the letter handed over by the workers which enabled the management to start forcing the workers to sign on plain paper. It was only after a strong protest by the workers that the management has returned few signed papers while the rest of the papers still lie with the management.

According to the workers, the old union is totally under the influence of the management and does not pay any attention to the demands of the workers of Manesar plant. In Gurgaon plant the salary of the skilled laborers adds upto Rs 30000 including the overtime and incentives, whereas the skilled laborers at Manesar get only Rs 12000 and despite doing overtime it does not exceed Rs 16000. They don’t even get incentives etc. This plant employs around 700 contract workers who hardly get Rs 6000 or even lesser and they have to do complete work. There is too much of work pressure on the workers and at times they have to work upto 16 hours at a stretch. They get leave after lot of tribulations and even for a slight delay in shift, a huge penalty is deducted by declaring the worker as absent. There are only two breaks lasting for 7.5 minutes each for lunch and breakfast; in between they are not allowed even to go to toilet. The workers have to face abuses if they refuse to do overtime. Hence the workers are determined to form their separate union.

Rupesh Kumar, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Badlu, Delhi
Ajay Swami, Delhi Metro kamgar Union
Tapish Maindola, Joint workers’ struggle front, Gorakhpur