Haryana – MSWU statement on the success of Autofit Workers Union (Dharuhera) in defending their union rights and rights of contract workers

February 6, 2014

MSWU congratulates the Spirited Struggle and success of Autofit Workers Union (Dharuhera) after 59 days of strike in defence of their Union rights and rights of contract workers

We salute the spirit of exemplary struggle of workers of Autofit factory, Dharuhera, Haryana in defending their Union rights, achieving a fair settlement, and forging and standing by unity of permanent and contract workers at all costs, and congratulate them on their success. Today in the day-time, on the 59th day of their long-drawn strike since 8th December 2013, they have achieved success and management has been forced to backtrack on their coercive tactics. We also congratulate the Munjal Kiriu workers who won their demands in a negotiation last month after a massive show of unity among workers here, and also justfully got cases registered against management officials who sent goons to beat up workers.

After Autofit Workers Union (Reg. no. 1958) got registered in June 2013 and submitted a charter of demands demanding a fairer wage settlement, the management retaliated at this ‘audacity’ by suspending 17 worker leaders including the whole Union body, and imposed a Good Conduct Bond. It increased repression by continuous harassment and taking back facilities. More suspensions, terminations, good conduct bonds, false criminal cases of misbehaving and stoppage of raw material entry, threats and abuses became the rule. Workers refused to sign the Good Conduct Bond, resisted the move to divide the permanent and contract workers and struck work from 8th December 2013 to effect a complete halt at production, affecting the factory production in Hero Motorcorp and other factories, continued a sit-in at the factory gate, and gave solidarity calls to workers in the region who participated in large numbers. After threats and coercion failed to deter the struggling workers, the management came down to the proposal in the tripartite negotiations on 28th January 2014 in ALC Office Gurgaon, that all contract workers and four Union body members will remain out of the factory, and only permanent workers will be retained. The Autofit Workers Union resisted the move, and continued the struggle with the demand of taking back the contract workers. 28th January was also when MSWU’s Jan jagaran Padayatra (15-31 January 2014 ) had reached Gurgaon, and we were enthused by the joint show of solidarity among workers near the ALC’s office.

Today 5th February 2014, the management has been forced to backtrack on its insistence of terminating the services of striking contract workers, and has agreed in the settlement to take back all the suspended and terminated workers, while only four permanent workers are to be taken back in one month. They have also forced the management to effect a wage settlement with an increase of Rs.7300 in CTC in next three years. This has been possible only because all through the biting winter and wage-less nights of December and January, our worker brothers sat on strike at the factory-gate, and fought tooth and nail to defend their Union rights, and to establish and retain the unity among the permanent, trainee, casual and contract workers. The MSWU also congratulates the striking workers of Munjal KIRIU Manesar who won their demands after 26 days of strike in front of the factory gate through the united might of permanent and contract workers. All workers, contract trainee and permanent were taken back and the management was forced to give in writing that ten permanent would be taken back on duty in a time-bound manner. More than that, it was after many years that the police had to take some action against the guilty management and file an FIR against company three management officials who had sent goons to beat and seriously injure peacefully striking workers at the factory gate two days earlier in an open display of the repression that is the law in the region. This happened when Munjal Kiriu workers along with over 4000 workers of the area gheraoed the Manesar Police Station on 14th December 2014 in the daytime. Management here act as though they are completely immune to the law system. The workers of Autofit and Munjal Kiriu fought the imposition of horrendous working conditions, while the management got away by paying peanuts to workers. They fought the authoritarian and illegal practice of throwing out contract workers every six months. They have fought another instance of company management arrogance, of exploitation of workers toil, divisive policies and repression of legitimate demands. They fought and won today on the strength of their independent fighting spirit, with the solidarity of mass of workers in the region.

This struggle comes in the backdrop of the repressive machinery unleashed on workers’ rights and workers struggles in the industrial belt of Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal, particularly after the 18th July 2012 incident in Maruti Suzuki Manesar, which was done first to suppress our own struggle which raised these uncomfortable questions about workers rights, central to which was the issue of contract workers. This struggle has inspired us, and we hope the success of their struggle will inspire all struggling workers and Unions not only in this industrial belt but workers struggling in other parts of India to defend their Union rights, and forge and fight with the combined might of permanent and contract workers. In the coming days, we also hope that workers of Autofit will continue to stand with every voice of struggle of workers in the belt and beyond.

With struggling greetings,
Provisional Working Committee