Delhi – Justice for Maruti Workers Campaign : Press Release and Resolution from 13 July Program

July 18, 2013

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Press Release: 14th July 2013

As the struggle of the workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar continues despite the powerful anti-worker forces that are arrayed against them, progressive and democratic sections of society came in their support on 13th July 2013 in a program organized under the banner ‘Justice for Maruti Workers Campaign’. Over 400 people from all sections of society- writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, teachers and students of JNU, DU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University, trade unionists, social and political activists and others- gathered to stand in solidarity with the struggle and current demands of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union with the auditorium of the Indian Society of International Law, in front of the Supreme Court premises in New Delhi packed to its fullest, with people sitting on the isles and standing at the door.

The program opened with performance of some songs from various people’s struggles and then moved on to Mahaveer from the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union who gave an elaborate and inspiring description of the struggle till now and expressed the resolve of the workers and their families to continue with the struggle untill they win finally win their just demands and get their fellow workers out of jail. He also invited everybody in the audience to take active participation in the movement on the 18th when the workers start their indefinite hunger strike and demonstration in IMT Manesar, Gurgaon. Later in the course of the meeting family members of terminated and jailed workers also spoke of the brunt they were bearing of the offensive of the management and the State, their experience of the struggle till now and their resolve to see the fight to its end.

Prof. Jagmohan, who is a direct descendant of Bhagat Singh said “We of course stand in uncompromising solidarity with the resolute struggle that the workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar are waging. It is of utmost significance to the thoughts and actions of what Bhagat Singh stood for. In this era of the dominance of multinational companies and foreign capital on policies of the government and absolute flouting and twisting of labour laws, we see in Maruti workers a continuity of Bhagat Singh’s struggle.” It is worth noting that the workers had started their indefinite hunger strike in Kaithal, Haryana on March 28th on the dharna which went on for 57 days, with the inspiration of Bhagat Singh, his garlanded photo and local ragnis adorning the dharna site. Prof. Jagmohan said, the struggle’s significance is being acknowledged and taken forward also in nearby Punjab. Pankaj Bisht said that the Maruti workers’ struggle has shown how in the era of privatization and neoliberalism, there is no alternative to a tenacious resistance. Prof. Achin Vanaik spoke of how the Maruti workers struggle has been educative and shown a leading light for the wider working class struggle in their self-organization. The workers have set an example for the unity of contract and permanent workers in this age of contractualisation and informalization, and have not only limited the struggle to the factory space but have taken it to the wider industrial area as well as to the villages. Thus it has come as one of the most important organized resistances of workers in recent memory and it must be saluted and stood for.

Arundhati Roy said that the struggle of the workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar and the emergent and erupting struggle of the working class in areas near Delhi-NCR show a new terrain of struggle emergent in the urban areas. The struggle in rural heartlands and where resource capture is taking place is not the only areas where struggle is taking place, and these networks of struggle against the ruling classes are everyday becoming apparent. She declared her solidarity with the struggle and said that she will participate in MSWU’s call for dharna and hunger strike on 18th July in Manesar.

Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan came is solidarity and talked at length of how the organs of the judiciary are seen to be ineffective and even compromised in the face of the offensive of big capitalists who are also controlling the Indian Parliament but it is only through the resistance of progressive sections that a complete scrapping of labour law regime has been stalled. He said in the case of Maruti workers, the denial of bail for one year to 147 workers for the alleged unproved and uninvestigated murder of one person by the judiciary is without any rationale and sets a dangerous precedent to the criminal justice system in India, and that they are being punished only for demanding their legitimate rights. This must be resisted and he expressed his complete solidarity with the movement and offered legal and social support to the workers.

Aruna Roy of MKSS, Rajasthan sent a strong message of solidarity. The message said, “If dissent and protest are being branded as criminal activities, a fair trial is denied, and there is administrative collusion with the management, the process deliberately derails the role of law which it professes to uphold. The Maruti workers as both citizens and labourers of this democratic country have a right to collectively organize and protest. A denial of this right is a violation of basic constitutional guarantees.”

Senior journalist with Outlook magazine, Bhasha Singh while noting widespread and increasing restlessness among people because of government policies, said that the current Maruti workers’ struggle is very much a part of a fight for justice and democracy. She emphasised the need for these workers to win this struggle.

Noted scholar and journalist Praful Bidwai, also expressed his solidarity with the ongoing struggle against the criminal nexus in the form of “Maruti-Manesar police” and frequent use of goons by this nexus to crush all legitimate union activities.

Karamat Ali, veteran Trade Unionist from Pakistan, called for a South Asian unity of the working class movements and how the rulers and capitalists of both countries and across South Asia are organized to fleece the toilers of their own countries.

Taki Malankolas recollected how his father and mother worked as a worker and nurse, the daily exploitation and pain of the working class has imprinted on his memory, and the struggle of workers of Maruti Suzuki posits new hope for the resistance and unity of workers in the present phase when neoliberal capital has spread its hegemony across the world.

Suzanne, a trade unionist from USA also spoke in solidarity with the struggle and brought to the movement messages of solidarity from the Automobile workers of the US.

The spirit of struggle enveloped the gathering creating a buzzing energy among the audience and was given voice to by the melodious yet resolute songs of struggle sung by various cultural organizations present in the hall the lead being taken by activists from Janrang and Paltan. The meeting was concluded with poetry by Vidrohi and slogans.

The house unanimously passed a resolution in support of the ongoing struggle and condemning the behaviour of the state and its various organs.

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RESOLUTION

The Indian Society International Law Auditorium

New Delhi; JULY 13, 2013

We the undersigned, express our utmost disappointment and dissatisfaction with the manner in which the government of India has failed to take any positive steps to resolve the dispute in Maruti Suzuki, Manesar, which has now been going on for almost a year at great cost to the lives and futures of thousands of workers and their families. No proper enquiry has been conducted till date into the incident of 18 July 2012 and the police repression on the workers and their families that followed, despite the repeated appeals by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and many democratic sections of Indian society. The unrelenting and downright repressive stand taken by both the Indian State and the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. have had devastating effect on people much beyond the 2300 workers terminated and the 147 workers put behind bars. Hundreds of families have been reduced to penury; many having lost their sole breadwinner. Children have been put out of school due to lack of money to cover the cost of education. The elderly in these families have been left with no support. The indifference of the State to the fate of the workers languishing in jail or struggling for their just reinstatement reflects its gross indifference towards the rights of the majority who work and toil in the country’s fields, factories and sweatshops and contribute to the economy.

Attributing the highest value to the life of a person, the continued imprisonment of 147 workers in lieu of the death of one manager defies common legal and democratic reasoning. Further, the rejection of the bail application on 22 May of 9 workers by the Honorable High Court of Punjab and Haryana does not show any political will towards delivering justice. Among other reasons, the High Court seems to have been more concerned about foreign investors’ needs than a just consideration of the plight of workers and workers’ families in total abdication of judicial wisdom. Indeed, workers need to be ensured the freedom of association and collective bargaining, and core civil rights – of speech, of protest, of freedom from arbitrary detention and from torture — as assured by internationally-recognized labor and human rights.

The conduct of the police and government officials too till now appear to be out rightly in staunch defense of the company’s practices if not overtly biased against the workers. The government has clearly taken strong measures to first ‘bring to justice’ those they suppose responsible for the incident on July 18th 2012 and then curb the protestations of the terminated employees of the company against the arrest of their innocent fellow workers and their own termination. It has taken no cognizance of the host of unfair labour practices that have been revealed as being employed by Maruti Suzuki in the course of the ongoing dispute and the agitation mounted by the workers in 2011 by various media reports and investigations carried by national and international democratic rights and labour rights organizations. The company continues to employ contractual labour in jobs of perennial nature and has consistently been mounting great pressure on workers inside the plant to keep them from participating in the activities of their registered Union. Shockingly, production inside the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki has, throughout this past year, been carried on under constant presence of police personnel on the shop floor and the company premises. Far from ‘enforcing law and order’ and being in ‘public interest’, the atmosphere of fear and repression perpetuated by the local police and administrations across the Guragaon-Manesar industrial belt as well as the entire National Capital Region has made violation of labour laws rampant by corporates and people who question such injustice are being penalized.

The complicity of the state and administration in suppressing workers’ rights is creating a dangerous administrative and legal precedent where even the courts of law privilege the interests of corporations over those of trade unions and justice and the welfare of the common people made irrelevant. The hysteria being whipped up over the threat of ‘labour unrest’ or the ‘enemy within’ has enveloped the official discourse. The many injustices and violations that constitute the everyday realities of most of the common masses of the country receive short shrift. The growing sense of insecurity and apprehension of the majority are systematically overlooked. By abdicating its responsibility to safeguard the constitutional and democratic rights of its common citizens, the government has become the vehicle of corporate interest.

As citizens of the country, concerned with the supremacy of our Constitutional rights and as members of the international community, committed to preservation of democratic rights and principles of justice, we express our gravest concern at the continuing travails being faced by the workers of Maruti Suzuki and their families. We demand from the Indian government and the government of Haryana to:

1. Immediately release all jailed workers of Maruti Suzuki
2. Take immediate action against the unfair and illegal labour practices going on in Maruti Suzuki
3. Bring an end to the continuing state repression on the agitating workers of Maruti Suzuki
4. Ensure speedy and positive resolution of the ongoing dispute between the workers and Maruti Suzuki

Anirban Kar, Rakesh Ranjan, Ranjana Padhi, Santosh, Shyamvir and Subhashini
JUSTICE FOR MARUTI WORKERS CAMPAIGN, NEW DELHI

On behalf of the following endorsements given at the program and some sent by email:

Aaron Schneider, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
Abdullah Masis
Abha Dev Habib, DTF
Abhinav Sabyasanchi, Paltan
Abhishek K.Singh, AISA
Achin Vanaik, Professor, Delhi University
Akhil Katyal, Ramjas College
Akshara Ranishankar, Saheli
Aman
Amartya
Amit, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Amita V.Joseph, Advocate
Amrit, Editor, Shramik Shakti, West Bengal
Amrita Chachchi, Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands
Anand Chakravarty, Retd. Professor, Delhi School of Economics
Andre Ling
Ankita, JNU
Anshita, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Anu, Journalist
Anu, Vikalp Sanskritik Manch
Anupam Priyadarshani, JANRANG/JNU
Anurag Hoon, Manzil
Arnab Acharya, Jindal Global University
Arun Kumar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi
Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan
Arundhati Roy, Writer and activist, New Delhi
Arya, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Ashish, Economist
Ashokankur Datta, Assist. prof, SNU
Ashwini Sukthankar, International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR) New York
Asinaf, RYA
Asit, Sanhati
Azran, DSU
B.S.Rao
Bonojit, NSI
Badre Alam, Delhi University
Baishali, DSU
Bansilal Sahu, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee), Bhilai
Belya Maria, Teacher
Bhasha Singh, Senior Journalist, OUTLOOK
Bibyani, NCC -CH, Social Work
Chaitanya, NOWRUZ
Chandni Mehta, Delhi University
Cijo, Pratidhwani /PUDR
Colin Gonsalves, Advocate, HRLN, New Delhi
Damodar, Revolutionary Democracy Journal
Dapun, Student
Deepak, Student
Deepak Kumar, Teacher
Deepani, Researcher
Deepti, Saheli
Deepti Gopinath, MARUTI WORKERS’ SOLIDARITY MANCH, MUMBAI
Devangana, JNU
Dithhi, NTUI
Dr. Saroj Giri, Delhi University
Dr. Charuh Chando, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra
G Nova, PUDR
Garun, JNU
Gautam Mody, NTUI
Gautam Navalakha, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, New Delhi
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak , Columbia University; West Bengal/India
Harish, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra
Hem, DSU
Himadri, MKP, West Bengal
Immanuel Ness, Professor of Political Science, City University of New York
Imran
Inayat
Iqbal Abhimanyu, Pratidhavni/ vidarthi yuwajan sabha
Ishita Mehta, JNU
J.K.Vidya, Student
Jagmohan Singh, AFDR ( Punjab)
Jahanuri
Jai Prakash, Student
Jainandra, Janrang
Jatinder Singh, Punjab solidarity Group
Jay Prakash, Delhi University
Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi
Jesse Kurtson
Jitnder, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union
Kalpana Kannabiran, Feminist Writer and Activist, Hyderabad
Kalpana Mehta, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression(WSS), Indore, MP
Kalyani Menon, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), New Delhi
Karamat Ali, PILER
Kasturi, JNU
Katyani
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL , Rajasthan
Kiran Shaheen, Right to Water
Kriti
Kulbir, PUDR
Lalit Prasad
Lata Kumari, Hundred Flower Group, JNU
Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sangathan
Madhu, The Hindu
Mahtab Alam, PUCL
Mani Bhusan
Manish, Phoneme Books
Manodeep Guha, Labour Rights Monitor
Mary John, CWDS, New Delhi
Mazdoor Ekta
Meena Gopal, Forum against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
Meghana
Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate, Mumbai
Mohsina Khatoon, Delhi University
Mukul Manglik, KAUJAS DU
Munna Pandey, IMK
Nakul, Newsclick (Filmmaker)
Nandini Chandra, Delhi university
Nandini Dey, MKSS
Nandita Narain, Democratic Teachers’ Front
Nandita Kohli, Journalist
Naveen, NSI
Nayan, KNS
Neeraj Chaudhary, Paltan
Nibha
Nikita Agarwal
Noor Zaheer
P.K.Shahi, AIFTU
Padam, Worker’s Unity
Paltan Group
Pankaj Bisht, Samayantar Magazine, New Delhi
Pankhuri, Geman Book office
Paramjeet Singh, PUDR
Peter Evans, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Piyoli Swatija, Samajwadi Jan Parishad
Praful Bidwai, Senior Journalist, New Delhi
Pranan, Advocate
Prashant, AISA
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
Pratik
Praveen, NSI
Praveen Jha, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi
R.K. Barik, IIPA , New Delhi
Rahul Roy, Filmmaker
Raies ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, Law Student, DU
Rajender Pathak, Advocate, Gurgaon Court
Rajib
Rakesh Kumar, Student
Ranjan Mehta, Hazard Centre
Ravi, JNU
Renu
Renu, NSI
Rishika Sahgal, National Law University, New Delhi
Ruchika Joshi, Student
Sadhna Arya, Saheli
Saed Ahmad, Unemployed
Saaz Singh, Janrang
Samik Chakraborty,MKP, West Bengal
Sandeep, AISA
Sandhya Gokahle, Forum against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker
Sanjeev Kumar, DSG
Sanjoy Pathak, Sanyukt Sangram Committee ( W.B.)
Santosh Kumar
Sathyadeep Chuutri
Sauhim N., Delhi University
Saurav, MKP, West Bengal
Shailesh Kumar
Shankar, Unemployed
Sharmistha, Janrang
Shilpi, Shramik Sangram Committee
Shreya, NTUI
Shriya, DSU
Shubhangi Shukla, MSU, Baroda
Srinivas Burra, South Asian University
Subash Bhatnagar, NCC-CH social work
Siddhi, JNU
Sudha Bharadwaj, PUCL Chhattisgarh, Bilaspur
Sujata Madhok
Sumati, Viplav Sanskritik Manch
Sumit Kumar Student
Sunayana
Sunit, Journalist
Sushmita, JNU
Suzanne Adely, Trade Unionist, USA
Swahall, I.C.T.U
Tanushree, The Sunday Guardian
Tanveer
Tathagata Biswas
Thendup Lama, KNS, Darjeeling
Thomas
Uday Narayan, I.C.T.U
Ujjwal, Lecturer, Delhi University
Uma, Viplav Sanskritik Manch
Uma Chakravarty, Feminist Historian New Delhi
V. Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL, Chennai
Vidhya A.K., student
Vijay, Nowruz
Vikas Kumar Bansal, Advocate
Vikas, PUDR
Vinod Kumar Bhardwaj, Advocate
Vira Sathidar, Republican Panthers, Nagpur
Viraj Sahgal, Ambedkar University
Vivek, Student
William Staford Jr., Ph.D Student
Yogesh, Inqilabi Mazdooor Kendra