On 18th March, the Gurgaon district court pronounced its sentence for 31 workers of Maruti Suzuki whom it had convicted on the completely concocted charges of murdering a manager of the company. Thirteen workers have been awarded life imprisonment. Four workers have been awarded five years' imprisonment. The other 14 have been fined.
In protest against this totally unjust and anti-worker verdict, 20,000 workers from six different plants of Maruti Suzuki in the Gurgaon Manesar belt went on a 1 hour tool down strike in the evening of 18th March. The workers of Maruti Suzuki have declared that they will not give up their struggle for justice for their comrades who have been unjustly punished for a crime they have not committed. Their only "crime" was that they were vocal in demanding workers' rights and actively seeking to change their horrible working conditions.
It may be recalled that more than four years ago, 148 workers were picked up by the police from their homes. This was done immediately following the death of the human resources manager in a fire in the room where negotiations were going on between workers and the company officials. It was pointed out during the final arguments of the case by the defence lawyers that murder charges were not tenable from the evidence presented. There is no evidence to prove that workers had set the fire in which the manager had died. Many of the arrested workers were not even present on the premises on that day.
Most of those who have been charged with murder are leaders and active members of the workers' union. Most of the other workers were arbitrarily picked up from lists provided by labour contractors. Such a large number of apprehended workers were not given bail for more than three years. As many as 117 of them were acquitted for complete lack of evidence. The governments at the centre and the state and the courts have revealed their class character as organs to defend the interests of capitalist exploiters and deprive the working class of its right to organise in its own interest.
The Haryana authorities have deployed massive number of police and paramilitary forces in the Gurgaon Manesar belt to prevent workers in the area from protesting against the court judgement. A curfew was imposed till 15th March. However, this has not prevented the workers of the area from expressing their deep anger at the victimisation of workers.
An appeal was issued before the sentence announced by the court, by a Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, to all unions across Gurgaon to join in protests against the conviction. A large number of workers took part in solidarity actions in support of justice for all Maruti Suzuki workers and were present in the Gurgaon Sessions Court premises on 18th March. More than one lakh workers in the Gurgaon Manesar belt skipped lunch on the 19th March in solidarity with the workers facing sentence.
Many unions across the Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal industrial belt of Haryana joined the 20,000 workers of the Maruti-Suzuki plants in the National Day of Action observed throughout India on 16th March. They included unions of Honda Motorcycle and Scooters, Hero Moto Corp, Daikin air-conditioning, Bellsonica Auto Components, Kansai Nerolac Paints, Rico Auto Workers, Omax Auto, Bajaj Motors, Sunbeam, Munjal Kiriu, Sona Koyo Steering, Microtech, Ahresty, Pricol, Hema, Napino, Satyam Auto, GKN, Metro Ortem, FCC, Munjal Showa, Talbros, Perfetti, Frigoglass, Organica Medical, ENKY, Uniproduct, Autofit, Endurance, Asti, MK Auto, Harsoriya, Amul, Moser Bear and LG.
Companies in Chennai and Coimbatore whose workers took part in solidarity actions include Diamond Chain, TI Cycles, Tube India Products, Onload Gears Innovators, Saimeera, Caterpillar, Sanmina, Jay Engineering, Shanti Gears and CNF Automotive. Reports of protest actions have also been received from Ludhiana, Bhilai, and Rudrapur.
Through the unjust court verdict and preposterous sentences awarded to Maruti workers, the big capitalists want to send a signal to the entire working class: Don't you dare to fight for your rights, or else you will end up spending the rest of your life in jail!
The working class is determined not to be cowed down. Crores of workers all across the country have decided to participate in militant, united, protest actions against the unjust court verdict against the Maruthi Suzuki workers.
Release all 31 Maruti workers and drop all charges against them, or else you are going to face a mighty revolt of crores of workers all over India! This is the fitting response of the working class to the terror tactics of the capitalist class.