November 8, 2012
PUDR Statement condemning that attack on Maruti workers’ Right to Dissent:
PUDR strongly condemns the strong arm tactics of the Haryana police in attempting to disrupt the 48-hour hunger strike that began yesterday, November 7, in front of the DC Office, Gurgaon. In an impressive show of solidarity and joint action, over 150 workers in jail custody, all workers inside the Manesar plant and over 500 workers outside the DC Office, Gurgaon are on hunger strike right now. Many local workers’ unions are in support of the struggle of MSWU.
Barely had the programme started when the police descended on the spot yesterday morning, tore down the tent of the workers and picked up 29 workers from the spot, including one of the main organizers. The workers were taken to the Bhondsi police station. Members of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) and workers’ unions of Gurgaon and some journalists followed up and pressure was mounted on the police until 27 workers were released. However, two workers named Ram Niwas and Om Prakash, were kept under illegal detention. They were taken to Sector 46, CIA, police station.
As the PUDR team began inquiring after 5pm, it was revealed that the workers had been shifted to the Sector 10, CIA police station. A Tata Sumo vehicle with some people in it left the premises as we entered the police station. However, the Inspector, Mr Sanjeev Bhullara, categorically denied any Maruti workers having been brought there and directed us to the Sector 10 A police station and then very soon assured that the workers will be released within a couple of hours. PUDR expressed its concern for their total safety, no torture and immediate return.
According to the two workers who were released around 9pm and 10 pm, respectively, they were able to see the PUDR team from the vehicle that left the premises of the Sector 10, CIA, police station. They were taken to a lane in the residential area and kept in the vehicle for one and a half hours and then sent to the Sector 10-A police station. It is outrageous but no longer shocking that once again the Haryana police used pressure tactics on these two workers urging them to leave the union and assuring that their termination would be revoked and the two could join work. And that the matter can be looked into by minsters and the Chief Minister himself. Worse still, the police threatened them that their fate would be the same as a person being beaten inside whose loud screams filled the air. The entry of corporations and multinationals in the absence of any semblance of protection for workers’ rights makes the working class vulnerable to the violence and illegal actions of the state machinery and capital today that we need to collectively resist.
The operations of the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd management through the police and administration of the state make it clear how uphill it is for the MSWU to negotiate for the revoking of the illegal termination of over 500 workers and a fair and unbiased enquiry into the incidents of July 18. The management with the help of the police and the administration is hell bent upon breaking down of the political right of the workers to unionize and bargain collectively. Undeterred by the police action, the hunger strike resumed and continues now.
PUDR supports the struggle of the workers by demanding:
* An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry to be initiated into the events that led to the death of the manager Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
* Release of all arrested workers. Reinstatement of all terminated workers.
* End of police pressure and coercion on workers in jail custody, inside the plant and outside- and their families too.
* Upholding of workers’ basic political right and democratic right to organize and struggle for their just demands!
Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan
PRESS RELEASE: 07\11\2012-11-07
HUNGER STRIKE BY MARUTI WORKERS:
The terminated workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar plant launched their mass hunger strike today in front of the District Magistrate Office, Gurgaon demanding an impartial inquiry into the incident of 18th July, immediate release of all arrested workers and the withdrawal of all the false charges put on them, immediate reinstatement of all terminated workers, including the contract workers.
The 149 workers in Bhondsi jail, arrested after the July 18 incident also embarked on a parallel hunger strike despite repeated threats of torture by the jail authorities since yesterday. They were threatened to be beaten up, separated and removed to different jails across the state, but have continued their hunger strike since early morning, even boycotting the early morning tea.
Majority of workers in the Manesar plant were also planning a solidarity action of lunch boycott. But just as they embarked on the solidarity action, immense pressure was put by the management and a heavy deployment of around 1000 police was brought in, in the already fortified company premises, to ‘dissuade’ them. The Union President and workers from Gurgaon plant also joined in solidarity with the workers in front of the DC Office, Gurgaon.
From the very beginning, the police and the administration vehemently displayed their anti-worker attitude. In gross violation of the democratic right to protest, the police dismantled the tent and other amenities (eg. Water tanker and sound system) that the workers had set up for the peaceful sit-in event in front of the mini-secretariat. The workers remained determined and vowed to continue the protest as planned in assertion of their rights. In response, the police continued its attack on the workers and detained about 40-50 workers who were packed off to Bhondsi thana. It is only after continued pressure from the workers and the unions present did the police release the detained workers. However, 2 members of the Provisional Working Committee, O.P.Jat and Ramnivas, have been illegally detained inside the police station for so-called further questioning and enquiry. We fear that, as the Haryana police on orders from the company has done, will again put false cases on the workers.
However, despite all these attempts at disruption and intimidation by the police, the first day of the dharna has proved a success and the hunger strike was continued at the decided venue. Representatives from different trade unions and other organizations across India came in solidarity to the protest and spoke at length about the immense injustice faced by terminated/jailed Maruti workers, the highly exploitative working conditions of workers across the country and committed themselves to taking this struggle forward. The speakers emphasized how the united struggle of the Maruti workers is very crucial and that it has served as an inspiration to workers across the country. The assembly was addressed by leaders of various factory unions in the Gurgaon-Dharuhera-Bawal industrial belt, including Rajkumar of RICO Employees Union (Dharuhera), Jaspal Rana of HMS, Anil of AITUC, Satbir of CITU, Animesh of IFTU and Shivmangal Sidhankar of ICTU. Workers’ Rpresentatives from Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh, Chattisgarh (like Kaladas) and Sangrami Shramik Karmachari Union, Hindustan Motors, West Bengal (Amitava Bhattacharyya), as well workers from Ghaziabad, Noida, Delhi, and Uttarakhand also spoke in solidarity.
The hunger strike will continue throughout the night, and tomorrow. There is a massive rally planned for 4pm tomorrow that will culminate at the local minister’s house, which is expected to be attended in large numbers by students, teachers, other members of the civil society and workers from across the industrial belt.
LIST OF DEMANDS:
• Immediate release of all arrested workers!
• Immediate reinstatement of all terminated workers!
• Stalling of police pressure and coercion on workers-inside the jail, inside the plant and outside- and their families!
•Respect for their democratic right to organize and struggle for their just demands!
Press Release on November 6
The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU: Reg. no. 1923) has decided to hold a protest dharna in the form of a two-day hunger strike on 7th and 8th November 2012. Our family members, relatives and well-wishers and organizations have staged regular protests across Haryana and given memorandum to all the ministers in the state but to no avail. We were not allowed to unite and express our side of the story and our indignation at being falsely implicated in the unfortunate incident of 18th July 2012.So we are doing a united protest action of the 149 workers languishing in Gurgaon Central Jail for the last three-and-a-half months, and the 546 permanent workers who have been terminated from their jobs. We have all the solidarity of the around 2000 contract and casual workers who have also been unceremoniously thrown out of their jobs. All 149 workers will be on hunger strike inside the jail, and over 500 workers will sit in front of the Gurgaon Court/D.C. Office in Gurgaon from 10am on 7th November till 4pm on 8th November 2012, after which we will take out a rally to submit a memorandum to the local minister.
When this protest program was declared the day-before on 4th November, police intimidation, which we have already witnessed these three months, has increased manifold. The jail authorities of Gurgaon Central Jail have threatened to ‘beat up’ and increase the torture on our 149 fellow workers who go on hunger strike. All our elected Union representatives are lodged in jail – Among those in Gurgaon Central Jail include the entire leadership of our MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION body, who are portrayed as ‘killers’ even without any due impartial investigation, and having a complete silence on the role played by the company management in the incident of violence on 18 July 2012.
The Maurti Suzuki company, IMT Manesar currently operates under police cover and the condition of the few workers who work there are fear and overwork. The Manesar police summoned each worker inside the company to the police station and has threatened all of them of ‘dire consequences’ and termination if found to be even remotely in touch with any of the terminated workers and having found to be attending any meeting or dharna. This is complete violation of all democratic norms in the country.
We will however go ahead with our scheduled program and call upon all sections of workers and common people to come in our support and join us on 7th and 8th November in front of the D.C. Office, Gurgaon, to bring out our side of the story which has been buried in the heap of company-driven misinformation and pro-company government actions. We have and will stand for our legitimate rights, the unity of all the workers against the exploitation by the Maruti management and its continuous attempts to ‘divide and rule’ over us, by segmenting us into permanent and contract, and now into jailed, terminated and working in intimidation.
1. Institute an independent impartial probe into the incident of 18th July 2012, and into the role of the management in it.
2. Immediately release all the arrested workers. Stop all repressive measures by the police on workers-inside the jail, inside the company and outside- and on their family members and relatives.
3. Immediately reinstate all the 546 terminated workers and also give priority to reinstate temporary workers as permanents.
Imaan Khan, Ram Niwas, O. P. Jat, Katar Singh, Yogesh, Raj Pal, Mahabir
Provisional Working Committee,
MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION (MSWU)
An Appeal to Workers and Masses from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union
October 27, 2012
Friends and Comrades,
We are issuing this appeal to you today when we continue to face the severest repression by the powerful nexus of the management of Maruti Suzuki, IMT Manesar and the Haryana government. While earlier, misrepresentation of our struggle was rampant, now the attempt is to subdue our struggle through silence on one side and repression on the other. The Maruti Suzuki management has, as per plan, not only terminated 546 permanent workers at one go without any domestic inquiry process, but has also unceremoniously thrown out the around 200 apprentice workers and a huge section of almost 2000 contractual workers. While the company is falsely going about town with claims of abolishing of contractual labour system, increase in pay, etc, while the reality points to its opposite- it has and continues to attack us daily for raising our united voice against its injustices and has increased its exploitation.
Our struggle is an expression of discontent against the daily exploitation and humiliation imposed upon us by the management of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar. We are struggling for our just demands guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and labour laws in the country. Since our struggle began, we have tried to express our discontent through a collective united voice. We have forged unity among permanent and contract workers and have the struggle against the insecurity of contractual labour utmost in our struggles, and this is precisely what the company, which believes in ‘divide and rule’, is against. We are the same workers who have, since 2006, with back-breaking toil, have propped up the company’s profits and scripted its success story which it wears with such pride. We are the same workers who have spent all our time and our overtime to build the best-selling models of the company. Is such production possible without any allegiance and commitment to the work and the company? Since 2006, even those workers who have been awarded with ‘best worker’ status and ‘gold medals’ by the same company are now being accused of being ‘mindless criminals’- can these same workers ‘mindlessly’ set fire to the company as has become common knowledge scripted only by the management’s side of events? Is it believable that these same workers, who when were merely receiving the bare minimum wage, had not resorted to any violence- how could we now go ‘berserk’ (as the company-versions everywhere say)?
Today more than 160 of our innocent brothers are languishing in Gurgaon Central Jail for the last 3 and a half months, and continue to suffer the various atrocities and humiliations imposed on them by the police. Our family members and relatives are also continued to be harassed by the police. Among those in Gurgaon Central Jail include the entire leadership of our MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION body- Ram Meher (President), Sarabjeet Singh (General Secretary), Sandeep Dhillon (Chief Patron), Ajmer (Legal Advsior), Amarjeet, Ram Bilas, Suresh Dhul (Cashier), Pawan (Secretary), Sohan (Vice President), Pardeep, Yogesh, Dhanraj, who are portrayed as ‘killers’ even without any due impartial investigation, and having a complete silence on the role played by the company management in the incident of violence on 18 July 2012.
Along with the injustices that the company management heaps upon us, our own representatives who should be listening to the people who elect them, are competing among themselves to show how loyal they are to the company, whatever happens to the workers and ordinary people. The Haryana government is completely hand-in-glove with the management of Maruti Suzuki and acting to its tunes, showing clearly whom they represent. The Minister of Industry, State of Haryana, R.S. Surjewala told us point blank in the language we are used to hearing from the management of Maruti Suzuki, that ‘I can’t help you, do whatever you feel you can’, and ‘my job is to take land for the companies and no more’. Even the Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda spoke in the same tune. We have gone from minister to minister’s doors of ruling and opposition parties, all of whom either express their ‘helplessness’ or say point blank how their interest is tied to the company’s interest and not of the workers. Exiting from the factory, and thrown into such a situation we now realize daily whom these so-called representatives ‘represent’, no matter that it is the laboring common people who vote them to their seats of power.
Friends and Comrades, it is becoming clear to us today, that the profits that we make for the capitalists with our toil and sweat and even at the cost of our dreams and hopes, is the very capital used by them to buy off the political leaders and the political system and suppress us. However, being united in struggle, our movement is growing in strength and tenacity.
We appeal to all workers, trade unions, democratic organisations and concerned individuals to stand in solidarity with our struggle.
We demand that:
- Immediately release all the arrested workers. Stop all repressive measures by the police on workers and their family members and relatives.
- Immediately reinstate all the 546 terminated workers and also give priority to reinstate temporary workers as permanents.
- Institute an independent impartial probe into the incident of 18th July 2012, and into the role of the management in it.
- All issues should be settled via tripartite negotiations.
We also request that wherever as our friends and comrades, you have expressed your anger and registered your voice of protest in our support, please do get in touch with us, and send the program details, photographs etc, so we can also feel the inspiration of a common struggle that we much require in the present. We appeal to all concerned to come join us in solidarity, and also intensify the struggles in your own areas.
Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad !
Inquilab Zindabad !
-issued on behalf of the Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU),
since the entire leadership of MSWU is presently lodged in Gurgaon Central Jail
Imaan Khan, Ram Niwas, O. P. Jat, Katar Singh, Yogesh, Raj Pal, Mahabir Dhiman