Some important reflections of Maruti Manesar incident on Sep 26

September 29, 2015

Contract workers’ assertion, police-bouncer brutality, police custody torture of Com. Khushiram in Manesar Thana

by Amit (Workers Solidarity Centre, Gurgaon)

[This was written on September 26, the day of the incident. – Ed]

1. Today at 6 am more than a thousand temporary workers (who are hired by the management on 6/7 month contract, get Rs. 10000 per month and do the same, or even more, work in production process compared to the permanent workers with 4-5 times salary) struck work and assembled at gate no 2 of Maruti Suzuki Manesar plant. They were demanding salary hike and other facilities which the recent settlement of plant union with management did not offer. It was not a sudden act. The discontent grew from day before yesterday. Yesterday they already expressed anger against the management in the evening and held general meetings of contract workers and small group meetings. Today they decided to strike (back) that stopped the production. They refused any sort of mediation by village sarpanches and refused to send a few workers to negotiate with the management, and instead asked the management to come outside the gate and negotiate with them. It was not a defensive act by a segment of workforce that is assumed usually to be insecure, dependent, unorganized. It was an offensive. They recognized their strength to affect the production, and they had little to loose. This was, keeping in mind the contract workers struggle in Asti, Honda, Hero Honda earlier, probably a strongest reflection of a force yet-to-be-awake with full of underlying rage and hope. If it happens, it will polarize and recompose the traditional trade union struggle participated/led by permanent workers, who already are minority in production process.

2. The Maruti management, one of the seemingly strongest management in India, has won some battles but lost the war against its workers. In a protracted class struggle in last 5 years, workers have given many costs, like 30 leaders resigning, hundreds in jail, 2300 losing jobs, many haunted by the police. But the management lost much much more. They could not stop the workers forming union, twice actually, pre and post 18 July incident. The salary of permanent workers rose from 15000 to 50000 today, that decisively influenced the wage structure elsewhere in auto belt here, the workload characterized by ‘takt time’ (the time cycle to make a car) increased from 40 seconds to 60 seconds. And, still even today, their celebration of a ‘peaceful’ settlement, as the first page of financial time describes today, becomes ridiculously short-term! Paranoid, they have no other way but to depend on police brutality, hired bouncers in hundreds from Aliyar, Dana, Kasan village, and administration-labour department-court maneuverings. Alas, for such a mighty company. That is why they are hell bent on punishing the jailed Maruti workers with life terms.

3. That is not the end. There was another hate story today. Com. Khushiram, terminated worker leader of Maruti Struggle and the general secretary of Workers Solidarity Centre, Gurgaon, was picked up by a combined effort of Maruti’s vigilance group member Vijay Vir and the SHO, Manesar police station at 6.30 am even before the lathi charge. The SHO shouted, “this is the same guy who created troubles on 2nd September morning!” (When a team of Workers Solidarity Centre was campaigning for strike in IMT Manesar). Management charged him guilty of instigating the contract workers and rioting. Khushiram was taken to Manesar police station. Even the chairs in the police station had the templates of Maruti Suzuki. As soon as he was forced inside the police station, a prepared team of 9-10 policemen took control of him. He was stripped naked. He was thrashed by boots, slaps, punches. The policemen applied the stick behind him. They used belts and so many other methods to torture him. Then he was treated that they would slap a case of sedition against him and make him suffer for years. Later, as the workers of Maruti grew angry, as the plant unions intervened with ultimatum, the police (read, the company management) had to soften their charges. Khushiram got bail in the evening.

They were afraid of Khushiram. They are afraid of future Khushirams!

The events suggest that a political battle is sharpening, between two classes. Maruti workers, Orient Craft workers, Graziano workers in jail are the political prisoners of this battle. We may loose some battles, but we will win the war. Let them be afraid of us!

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