Workers struggle in Maruti – Suzuki’s Manesar plant continues

According to a report filed our Mazdoor Ekta Lehar correspondent in Manesar on August 11, 2011, the workers of Maruti Suzuki have decided to organize gate meetings at all the 5 plants of Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon and Manesar over the next few days.

According to a report filed our Mazdoor Ekta Lehar correspondent in Manesar on August 11, 2011, the workers of Maruti Suzuki have decided to organize gate meetings at all the 5 plants of Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon and Manesar over the next few days. These gate meetings are being organized as part of the ongoing struggle against the harassment and persecution of workers and their leaders by the management of Maruti Suzuki.

Earlier, on July 27, 2011, four leaders of the workers at the Manesar plant had been suspended by the Management on the basis of trumped up charges. The charge was that these leaders had attacked the supervisor and were obstructing the plant from functioning smoothly. Immediately following this, the workers of the particular shifts went on a spontaneous tool down strike. The management then announced that production would be stopped in the two shifts named "B" and "C" and it locked the gates. Following up on this, the management suspended the buses that bring workers to the plant from Gurgaon and Manesar. Angered at this step, the workers worked out their own transport to come to the gate and began mass protest at the gate. Confronted by the militancy and unity of the workers, the management was forced into negotiations. It opened the gates and recommenced production. However it refused to take back the suspension orders. The workers agreed to resume production saying they would give a weeks time for the management to revoke the suspension orders on their leaders.

The decision to organize gate meetings not just in the Manesar plant, but in four other plants of Maruti Suzuki, is a fallout of the fact that the management has not revoked the suspension orders till August 11, 2011. It reveals that not just the workers of the Manesar plant, but the tens of thousands of workers of the other four plants of Maruti Suzuki have decided to unitedly fight the provocations of the management.

The backdrop to the July 27, 2011 incidents is as follows. The Suzuki management refuses to accept that the over three thousand workers of the Manesar plant want to have their own union despite the 13 day total strike in June and the near complete boycott of the management sponsored elections in July. It has been deliberately provoking the workers and leaders. These provocations include use of foul language, forcing workers to work many shifts at a stretch without rest, and instructions to the shift in charges not to listen to the grievances of the workers. In fact, just before the July 27 incident, the supervisor had indicated to worker leaders that he was being forced by the management to be provocative with the workers and he regretted it and that he would not repeat it. The management forced the particular supervisor to file a written complaint against the leaders after this, on which basis it issued the suspension orders.

According to our correspondent, the management has deployed hired goons as "security" at the gate to intimidate the workers. These goons roam around the plant premises freely even though they are not officially employees of the company.

The management has also got the assistance of the Hooda government to deploy police forces to intimidate the workers. However, all this has only increased the resolve of the workers to fight for their rights. According to the workers leaders, they have continuously kept the Haryana Government Labour Department in the loop about the goings on in Maruti Suzuki. However, the only action of the Haryana government has been to side with the management, and the Labour Department has maintained absolute silence on the anti worker practices of the management. The leader said the union has taken note of this stand of the government and its labour department and if the same situation continues, the government would be squarely responsible for any consequences in Manesar and Gurgaon.

According to the workers, there are definite officials in Maruti Suzuki who want to provoke unrest amongst the workers. They named one Mukesh Kumar Gupta (Head, production department) and Ashwini Kumar Dev (head, Human Resources Department) as two such officials. According to the workers, these officials and some others were making money through their wheeling and dealings with labour contractors. They were interested in further contractualisation of labour in the plants of Maruti Suzuki, both for their own benefit, and that of the company. It may be known that contract workers get much less pay, sometimes lower than minimum wages, and they have no benefits such as Provident Fund, ESI, Gratuity, earned leave, etc.

The ongoing struggle in Maruti Suzuki deserves the support of the entire working class. The workers are fighting for their just rights — to form a union of their choice, and against the attacks on their wages, working conditions and dignity. Such struggles are going on all over the country as the working class steps up its resistance to the capitalist offensive. The stand of the Haryana government is consistent with the stand of the Central and all state governments — to support the capitalists and attack the workers in the name of making our country a "favoured destination" for capital from India and all over the world. That is to make conditions for the super exploitation of the labour and resources of our people so that capitalists can make maximum profit.

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