Workers from various industries and their trade unions and organisations have been organizing protest actions opposing the unjust sentence of the Gurgaon Sessions Court on 18 March 2017, declaring life imprisonment for 13 workers of Maruti Suzuki Ltd. (Manesar) and 5 years imprisonment to 4 other workers. These Maruti Suzuki workers have been falsely accused of complicity in the murder of a manager of the company in 2012. 148 workers have been in jail for the last four and half years, of which 117 have been now declared innocent and released. The court sentence has been issued without a shred of evidence and solely on the basis of false witness accounts by the management.
On March 28, trade union activists of different factories in Gurgaon, Riwari, Dharuhera etc. held a meeting in the Kamla Nehru Park in Gurgaon, under the banner of the Trade Union Council of Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal, to plan for future actions. The meeting was addressed by leaders of AITUC, CITU, and Mazdoor Ekta Committee amongst others. At this meeting, the Trade Union Council decided to organize actions in Gurgaon on April 5 as part of All India actions of workers.
On March 31, several workers’ organisations held a protest dharna at Jantar Mantar, opposing the attack on the Maruti workers and in support of their struggle. These included Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Mazdoor Ekta Kendra, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Krantikari Naujawan Sangathan, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Hindustan Motors Mazdoor Union, IFTU (Sarvahara), TUCI, All India Workers Council and others.
On April 4, dharnas were organized at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and at the mini secretariat in Gurgaon, in which hundreds of workers participated. The dharna at the mini secretariat in Gurgaon was organized at the initiative of the Provisional Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and the Maruthi Suzuki Karamchari Sangh, in which the Trade Union Council of Gurgaon also participated. Mazdoor Ekta Committee participated actively in both these dharnas.
On April 4, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana organized protest marches in Gohana and at the Jila Prashasan office in Kaithal, in solidarity with the Maruti workers.
AITUC, CITU, HMS, INTUC, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC, TUCC, SEWA and LPF gave a call to mark April 5 as all India day of protest in solidarity with the Maruti workers. In response to this, a protest march was organized on April 5, by trade unions and other workers’ organisations in New Delhi, from Himachal Bhavan to Haryana Bhavan, culminating in a mass rally. A memorandum signed by all the participating organisations was submitted to the authorities. Leaders of AITUC, CITU, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, AIUTUC, AICCTU, INTUC and UTUC addressed the rally.
On the evening of April 5, thousands of workers from Gurgaon-Manesar took part in a massive rally at the Kamala Nehru Park, organized under the banner of Trade Union Council Gurgaon-Riwari. Workers from different factories in the belt marched into the park with bright red banners and flags, shouting militant slogans reflecting the unity and fighting spirit of the class. In a mark of recognition that the workers of Gurgaon – Manesar belt had emerged in the center of the resistance struggle of the workers to the capitalist onslaught, delegations of the central leadership of various trade unions and workers organisations participated actively in this rally. These included leaders of AITUC, CITU, HMS, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, INTUC and AIUTUC. A memorandum listing the demands of the workers of the belt signed by representatives of all the participating central organisations and factory trade unions was submitted to the authorities.
Protest actions in solidarity with the Maruti workers have been reported from nearly 30 other towns and cities all over India and from 21 countries in different parts of the world.
Protest actions have been reported from Chennai where workers of various multinational automobile companies participated. Similar protest actions have been reported from Faridabad, Bhivani, Nahan, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Rudrapur, and so on.
On April 3, trade unions in Colombo, Sri Lanka, organised a protest action in front of the Indian mission. On March 24, a massive protest march was organized outside the Indian Embassy in Paris, France, demanding the dropping of false charges and immediate release of the 13 Maruti workers.
The protesting workers and their trade unions and organisations have demanded that the 13 Maruti workers condemned to life imprisonment on the basis of completely fabricated charges be released immediately and unconditionally. The have demanded that the false cases against all the workers should be withdrawn and that the 117 workers, who have now been declared innocent after being locked up in jail for four and half years, should be immediately taken back to work.
The rallies being organized all over the country and internationally in defence of the Maruti Suzuki workers reveals the growing unity of the working class. The slogan “an attack on one is an attack on all” is becoming the rallying cry for forging this unity. The necessity for building and strengthening the united workers opposition against the offensive of the capitalists and the state is being increasingly felt.
Workers have taken note of the fact that it was the government of the state of Haryana that was the prosecutor in this case. Throughout these 4 and half years, the government of Haryana has openly worked on behalf of the Maruti Suzuki management and hounded the workers of the company slapping false cases on their leaders and torturing them and jailing them. The government of Haryana demanded death penalty for the workers declaring that this was necessary to send a signal to foreign capitalists that the Indian government would go to any extant to provide a “favorable climate” for capitalists. Workers have also noted that all this has gone on with the full backing of the central government. Both the Central and State governments have maintained a consistent anti worker, pro capitalist stand, irrespective of the party in power.
Workers are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they cannot rely on the institutions of the state for justice. The importance of building and strengthening workers unity committees in factories and work places, in industrial centers as well as at state and all India levels is being increasingly appreciated.