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147 Men of Manesar – In Jail ,why can’t they get Bail ? #Justicedenied

Some 147 workers, arrested after the 2012 Maruti plant violence and death, are still languishing in jail. Why can’t they get bail?

Jo mann se hara, woh hara. Jo mann se jeeta, woh jeeta’ (One who loses heart, loses everything. One who is strong, wins), reads a white board on the wall of a freshly painted small conference room of a modest private company in Gurgaon. The woman in crisp brown cotton salwar and black dupatta purses her lips. She’s in distress, her eyes are red as she tries to hold back the tears.

Sushma’s husband is one of the 147 workers of Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant who have been in jail for two years now, charged with murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy following the death of HR manager Awanish Kumar Dev in a fire on July 18, 2012, the result of a violent clash between workers and security guards. Special public prosecutor K.T.S. Tulsi says the prosecution hopes to com­plete examining of witnesses in August. “It is the media that is to blame,” exclaims Sus­hma. “Did they once give thought to why 147 poor workers would come together to kill one man?” she asks.

The workers have always claimed that they had been fond of the deceased Awanish. He was apparently sympathetic to the workers’ cause and his relations with workers were very cordial,Outlook was told. They had no reason to kill him. So, was it just an accident? And if it was indeed murder, could anyone else have had an interest in eliminating him? The question has not even been addressed by the Haryana police.

Attempts to get in touch with family members of Awanish proved futile. A Maruti official toldOutlook over the phone that the company had no information about their whereabouts and weren’t even sure if they still lived in the Delhi-NCR anymore. Surely there would be colleagues and friends of the deceased who would have some information? The queries were stonewalled.

 

“The judiciary is biased, 100 of the arrested are casual workers, with no union connections. Why would they join the violence?”Rajender Pathak, Defence Lawyer

With the chargesheet already filed, and the investigation complete, lawyers say there is no reason for the workers to be still in jail. “The Punjab and Haryana HC stated extraneous reasons of a possible impediment in foreign investment for not granting bail. This is extremely unf­ortunate,” says the defence lawyer in the high court, Vrinda Grover. While the SC held that eyewitnesses have to be examined before bail is granted, Grover says the prosecution has deliberately withheld eyewitnesses to prolong the case. “Another bizarre occurrence is the sequ­ence in which four witnesses zeroed in on the accused. They have been identified in alphabetical order! Can any judge believe that in a situation of rioting a witness will notice people in alphabetical order? These are clearly false witnesses, the names have been written up from the muster rolls. It’s shocking that this does not alarm a court,” Grover says.

While bail has been granted to the accused even in cases like the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots (death toll 62) and the 2G spectrum scam, the failure in securing bail for even one of the 147 Maruti workers is seen as a sign of the clout the company enjoys in Gurgaon and over the police and the judiciary. “It’s impossible for them to secure justice, unless this case is transferred to Delhi. The police too are agents of the company,” says Colin Gonsalves, a senior counsel in the SC and rights activist.

Families of several accused claim many of the jailed workers were not even at the plant the day the violence erupted. Two boys, Iqbal and Surender, were on leave and did not even go to the plant that day. “Nearly 15 boys were picked up from their rooms in Aliar­dhanda, a village near Manesar. They were on night shift and their work was to begin at midnight,” says Mahabir, a member of the provisional union of Maruti Suzuki workers, formed after all the members of the former union were put behind bars.

Families of over 10 jailed workers say appointment letters from the company asking them to return to work (when the plant resumed production a month after the violence) had arrived after the arrests. “Even the management doesn’t seem to know who was arrested and why. Several of those who were in uni­forms were randomly picked up from the street,” says Dayaram, father of arrested Narender (30), whose traumatised wife is now undergoing psychiatric treatment in a private hospital in Gurgaon.

The defence counsel points to several aberrations that have surfaced in the course of the trial, which leave several questions unanswered. The violence took place in the evening, nearly 12 hours after an altercation between one of the managers and a worker, Jia Lal. (Lal was apparently abused when he protested against an official briefing during their seven-and-a-half minute tea break that morning.)

While the post-mortem report of the deceased manager says the death was caused due to shock and asphyxiation, defence lawyer Rajender Pathak argues that it’s nigh impossible for the workers to have started a fire, as they are thoroughly checked for any items like matchboxes, lighters and cigarettes before they enter the factory, as per a standing order issued by Maruti and approved by the Haryana government. “It is only the top management that is allowed to carry lighters or matchboxes,” says Pathak. Prosecution witness and chief of plant operations, Vikram Khazanchi, accepted in court that officers were allowed to smoke within the factory premises. He, however, denied that workers were frisked before they entered the factory.

 

“How can witnesses identify the accused in alphabetical order, that too in a riot situation? It’s clear they are false witnesses.”Vrinda Grover, Defence Lawyer

What arouses further suspicion is that a police contingent, summoned by the Maruti management in anticipation of violence, was present outside when the incident happened. The statement of Narendra Kumar, asi of the Gurgaon police station then, says the plant security in-charge Capt Deepak Anand  had asked him not to send the police inside. When Khazanchi was asked by the court if the security in-charge had been indicted for the lapses and violence, he admitted in court that no action was taken against him. It does beg an explanation on why the management, which claims to have suffered a loss of Rs 500 crore (and according to the defence team duly recovered the amount from insurance companies), took no action against the person who was directly responsible for security.

Defence lawyer Pathak says, “The jud­iciary is biased. Nearly 100 out of 147 boys arrested were casual workers, who had nothing to do with the union. Dem­ands raised by the union would have in no way affected their salaries or leave. Why would they join the violence?”

The situation had been simmering for a while and it had to do with payments. All permanent workers in the plant at the time received their salary in two parts—a fixed component of Rs 8,000 and a variable component of Rs 7,000, called the Production and Performance Reward System (PPRS). “If a worker took an unplanned leave for a day, Rs 1,300 was deducted from the PPRS. If we took two, we would lose Rs 3,000, on taking more than three leaves, we would be denied the entire Rs 7,000,” explains Mahabir.

Maruti Suzuki, meanwhile, has moved on. Its net profit for the year 2012-13 stood at Rs 23,921 million. Even more ironically, it declared a dividend of 160 per cent compared to 150 per cent in the year 2011-12. The family of Awanish Kumar have either shifted or are behind a cordon. And the Haryana government has been spending a tidy sum every month to pay high-profile lawyers and to keep the workers in jail. Some of them are losing their mind and all of them, in their 20s and 30s, are marked for life.  The maximum sentence for rioting is three years rigorous imprisonment and/or fine, if convicted. These young and skilled and semi-skilled workers have been in prison for two years already. Is this what’s called a black hole?

***


Photographs by Tribhuvan Tiwari

Asha 26
Wife of Kamal Singh (28), permanent worker arrested on July 19, 2012

“He was at home by 6 pm and it takes at least two hours to come from Manesar to Delhi and the violence erupted at around 7 pm.”

“The last time I saw him was on our wedding anniversary, three months ago. I wore a new saree and took a new shirt for him. He looked so sick. He had lost so much weight,” says 24-year-old Asha. “He broke down as soon as he saw me, saying he couldn’t stay in jail anymore. He asked me to do something, anything to get him out. But is anything in my hands?” Asha married Kamal in April 2012. Three months later, her husband, was arrested. Kamal was on the morning shift, which began at 6:30 am and ended at 3 pm—some three hours before the violence erupted in the Manesar plant.

When the police knocked on their door the next day at six in the morning, the couple was asleep. “I woke him up and told him some policemen were asking for him. After 20 minutes of talking, they said they’ll leave him in two days after the inquiry got over. It’s been two years now,” she says tears swelling up.

Kamal’s daughter was born in March 2013, seven months after he was arrested. He’s only seen her thrice. “We call her Deepti because he likes the name. We haven’t had the naamkaran yet. We will have it as soon as he is out of jail,” says Asha.

***


Photographs by Tribhuvan Tiwari

Kavita Sundriyal 26
Sister of Amit Prasad (24), casual worker arrested on July 18, 2012

“My brother will come out because he’s innocent. But what about the two years of his life that’s been wasted? His friends are all doing so well….”

She has asked the constable thrice if the books would reach her brother. Thrice he has said yes, but the two books, in pink paperback, continue to lie on the stool beside him. Kavita (26) has just met her brother, Amit Prasad (24), and assured him that the books for him to learn Japanese would reach him. “You either have to do some jugaad or pay to get anything done here. My brother has given money to one of the constables so that he can do him small favours like this. I can’t find him today,” says Kavita. Amit, she says, was dragged out of a shared autorickshaw, along with three others from the plant, all of them in their uniforms. He had completed his morning shift and had taken the auto to IFFCO chowk in Gurgaon, where he would pick up his bike from the Maruti parking lot and return home to Delhi.

“The Maruti management said that those who are in jail are dangerous criminals and hence shouldn’t be let out. Didn’t they check before they employed them? If all these young boys were really involved, they could have set fire to the whole plant and killed many more people. Why would they kill one man?” she asks, fists clenched and her voice quivering. “My brother will come out because he is innocent. But, what about the two years of his life that have already been wasted? His friends are all doing so well in their career; many are getting married. But these boys in jail are now labelled and this punishment they are undergoing will drive them to really become criminals,” she adds grimly.

***


Photographs by Tribhuvan Tiwari

Sushma Devi 29
Wife of Sohan Lal (29), permanent worker arrested on July 20, 2012

“He was arrested at my mother’s place in Himachal. But the police report says they found him in Gurgaon with a rod in his hand.”

“In the FIR there were three Sohans—Sohan Kumar, Sohan Singh and Sohan Lal. My husband’s name is Sohan Lal; but there were two Sohan Lals in the company. The one they wanted was a part of the union and has a different father’s name. My husband’s name was not even in the FIR,” she says.

Dressed in a cotton salwar, vermilion on her forehead and hair neatly tied in a pony, Sushma (29) is wrapping up her work before she can leave for home. It is a Monday evening and she has stayed back longer than usual, to make up for arriving late to office that morning.

She has permission to come an hour late, at the private firm where she works as a data entry operator, every Monday and Friday when she gets to meet her husband in jail for 20 minutes at around 9 am. “I was a Hindi teacher in a government school. I changed jobs a month after my husband went to jail because I could not go late to school after meeting him,” she says.

Sohan Lal s/o Trilokchand was arrested on June 20, 2012, from Sushma’s mother’s house in Himachal Pradesh where she had been since June 16, 2012, after her miscarriage. Her husband left Gurgaon on June 18 after the violence took place and joined them in Himachal. “Sometimes I wonder if my husband’s commited any crime at all. It seems impossible with all the lies the police have concocted. The police have written in their report that they found him in Gurgaon with a door beam and a rod in his hand.”


By Pavithra S. Rangan in Manesar & Gurgaon

Read mor where  http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Those-Men-Of-Manesar/291560#.

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Conduct fresh probe into Maruti violence, demands rights group #Ileadindia

The old logo of Maruti Suzuki India Limited. L...

 

NEW DELHI, June 20, 2013

 

Mohammad Ali

 

Accuses police investigations of being a “farce, pro-management”

 

A year after violence broke out at Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Manesar, in which company HR manager Awanish Dev died and several others were injured, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights has termed the police enquiry into the episode a “farce” and demanded a fresh probe.

 

Arguing that the July violence should be seen in the context of history of unfair labour practices and workers’ struggle at Maruti, the rights group said: “What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars, but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued despite ruthless repression by the management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary to provide any justice to them.”

 

While releasing its fact-finding report highlighting the episode’s implications, the rights group has demanded that investigation into the July 18 incident carried out by the Haryana Police should be nullified and a fresh investigation initiated by an SIT comprising police officers drawn from other States.

 

Differing from the police version of the events about last year’s violence, PUDR alleged that a large number of workers and their family members were harassed by the cops in the course of a “deeply flawed” investigation.

 

“As a result of the police investigation, workers were arrested, jailed, and have been denied bail till date. The company at the same time terminated hundreds of workers accusing them of involvement in the incident well before the police investigation was completed,” said PUDR secretary Ashish Gupta.

 

“The Haryana Police have been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has amounted to grave miscarriage of justice, which is why we are demanding investigations into the role of hired bouncers, who were present at the spot, and also that of the Haryana Police officers responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members,” he said. The fact finding report highlights “collusion” of the Maruti management, administration and police in workers’ harassment.

 

 

 

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Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights inMaruti Suzuki India Limited

kama3F

PICTURE COURTESY- FACEBOOK GROUP- I MISLEAD INDIA

https://www.facebook.com/IMisleadIndia

On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana policehave been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale ofpolice action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
2
area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
3
wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
4
management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.

Download full report here

 

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Times of India #ILeadIndia #CSR #PR campaign is actually #ImisleadIndia

kama3F

PICTURE COURTESY- FACEBOOK GROUP– I MISLEAD INDIA  https://www.facebook.com/IMisleadIndia 

Editor
Times of India
Subject- I lead India Campaign

Sir,

Times of India  launched the ‘ I lead India ‘ campaign, with great fan fare on May 22, 2013 and which you claim that at a time when Indians are filled with negativity and pessimism, this initiative presents an alternative that goes beyond armchair criticism. It goes Beyond demonstrations and appeals, it urges you to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. According to you, ‘I Lead India’ is a clarion call which seeks to drive change too, but at the grass-root level, in 26 cities of India .
I am sorry I can’t say congratulations !
What a noble intention but do you know ? you have actually started on a wrong foot, by having Maruti Suzuki as your partner , a perpetrator of human rights violations, against its own workers. The workers have been thrown into prison ,, families thrown into trauma, grim future: the sacked Maruti labourers are still harried.
How can a newspaper of national repute like Times of  India, let such a company, which is notorious for suppression of workers democratic right of protest, sponsor the I Lead India Campaign. How can a company which unfairly fires and harasses workers has become a harbinger of change?
The Maruti Suzuki Workers are facing the most brutal repression by the government , although workers have adopted democratic and peaceful means available to demand the release of arrested 147 workers, withdrawal of and reinstatement of terminated 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers, the government has only responded with force and malice and in collusion with the Maruti Suzuki company management.
The Background


Maruti workers had applied to register a new union, independent of the company’s management, on November 4, 2011. The union was registered on February 29, 2012.to  represent over 2500 Maruti workers who went on strike three times last year demanding a union and improvements in their conditions of work.

The struggle in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd , Manesar started with workers demanded their constituional rights for legitimate trade union , they raised their voices demanding abolition of the contract workers system, and have raised their voice for dignified employment against the exploitative Maruti Suzuki Management. For this, they have been targeted and attacked by the management. The government, instead of assuring the rights of workers, has only acted in favour of the anti-worker interests of the company. It is letting loose a reign of terror and police and administrative repression on workers and their supporters.

On 18th July 2012, a supervisor in factory abused and made casteist comment against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. The worker was suspended and no action was taken against the supervisor. This resulted in a protest by the factory workers. The management stooped to the level of arranging 100 bouncers to fight workers , and they were joined by 4000 police force men, the councers and cops were in hand in glove . Some of the factory workers were critically injured and taken to the hospital.
Now the workers are fighting a legal case (State of Haryana Vs. Jiyalal case), under which 149 workers were sent to prison l. Police lodged an FIR. 59 workers names were written and 500/600 workers under the unknown category. Under the charge sheet 13 charges were put on 211 workers. Just before the charge sheet 66 workers were arrested on a Non- Bailable warrant. Some of them were not even involved but were considered future trouble makers. 2300 workers were dismissed from the Maruti factory. The case is still going on. The 211 workers are still waiting for a court hearing. The 2300 workers still remain jobless and are fighting to get their jobs back.
The workers have taken to the most peaceful means of protest since the dharna started on 24th March 2013, which included an 8 day fast unto death, which they broke after the Haryana Chief Ministers assurance. They have shown during this phase and also during the entire phase of the strikes in 2011 that they are unitedly asking for their rights in an exemplary show of democratic spirit, but the company and the state government is determined to distort reality and portray them as criminals. It is not even allowing them their democratic right to protest, either in Gurgaon, Manesar or in Kaithal.

In the Video below Wife of an arrested Maruti Worker.speakes, listen

The true face of Maruti Suzuki Management, is exposed in this letter from prison by the Maruti Suzuki Workers –

I quote

We all are children of workers and peasants. Our parents, with huge effort and sacrifice, ensured our 10th standard, 12th standard or ITI education, helped us stand on our feet to do something worthy in our life and help our family in need. We all joined Maruti Suzuki company after passing the written and viva-voce tests conducted by the company and on the terms and conditions set by the company. Before our joining, the company carried out all kinds of investigations, like police verification of our residential proof or whether we had criminal records! Neither of us had any previous criminal record. When we joined the company, the Manesar plant of the company was under construction. At that stage we foreseeing our future with the progress of the plant invested huge energy and diligence to lift the Manesar plant of the company to a new height. When the entire world was struggling under the economic crisis, we worked extra two hours daily to materialize a production of 10.5 lakh cars in a year. We were the sole creators of the increasing profit of the company, and today we are implicated as criminals and murderers, and those who engage in ‘mindless arson’! Almost all of us are from poor worker or peasant families which has been dependent on our job. We were struggling to weave dreams for our and our family’s future, such as of our own homes, of the better education for our brothers-sisters and children so that they could have a bright future and ensure a comfortable life for their parents who took the pain to bring after them. But in return, we were being exploited inside the company in all possible ways, such as:

1. At work, if any worker was unwell, he was not allowed to go to the dispensary and was forced to continue with the work in that condition.

2. We were not allowed to go to the toilet, the permission was there only at tea or lunch time.

3. Management used to behave with the workers very rudely with abusive language, and used to even slap or make them murga in order to punish them.

4. If a worker was forced to take 3-4 days leave because of his ill health or some accident or other serious problem in his family or because of the death of a relative, then half of his salary which amounted to almost Rs. 9000 used to be deducted by the company.

You can Read the full lettter here

Recently, the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR). team constituting of lawyers and trade unionists from India, France, Japan, South Africa, the USA , were on a visit to investigate the incidents that led to the summary dismissal of over 500 permanent workers and over 1800 contract workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in August 2012. The team stated in their preliminary report that the alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva , as If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms. Maruti Suzuki is planning to set up a plant in South Africa, ICLR informed that the labour organisations there will oppose it , recognising human rights violations of the company in India .

The Preliminary Report can be read here

Although, Times of India is covering the protest I am amazed that you did not realise that your own public relation campaign could backlash, if you have maruti suzuki as a co sponsor ? It didn’t strike you , that there were workers striking and protesting against the oppression of maruti suzuki management ? Or wait a minute, Is it that Maruti Suzuki Management wanted to improve their image by involving in I lead india campaign and they are shit scared , because the movement by the Manser factory workers and the immense support it got from the entire country makes them in piss in their pants and also the fact that their sales figures had dropped immediately following the Manesar fiasco.

The Times of India, National newspaper claims to be India’s s most widely read English newspaper with readership over 7.6 million .It has some accountability towards its readers.

I demand Times of India to withdraw Maruti Suzuki’s ‘s sponsorship from I lead India Campaign and stop selling activism through this facade a campaign of corporate social responsibility of Maruti Suzuki.

Its like ‘ Nau sau chuhe kha ke billi ko haj ko chali ”
I lead campaign ka TIME KHATAM
Sincerely
An Ashamed , Times of India Reader

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Mumbai
P.S- And if the I lead India campaign team, is still confused and unaware , what I have stated above, do check out http://marutisuzukiworkersunion.wordpress.com/

 

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ILO, UNHRC to take up labour issues at Maruti Suzuki

By Harpreet Bajwa – CHANDIGARH

New Indian Express online, 31st May 2013 

The alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva next week by the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR).

The special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association,  an independent expert appointed by the [UN] Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country a specific human rights theme, will also look into the matter.

A seven-member ICLR team met the Haryana DGP and other state government officials on Thursday. However, it could not meet Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Maruti-Suzuki management with the latter refusing to meet them.

International human rights lawyer and team member Suzanne Adely said: “We will take this issue of repressing rights of Maruti workers and the state police booking them in different cases with the special rapporteur next week. We will also take up this case with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).” “This company is also planning to set up a plant in South Africa. The labour organisations there will oppose it as our team there was a member from the labour organisations of that country. If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms,”  said Ashwini Sukthankar, an international labour lawyer and ICLR member.

Another team member Kato, a retired International Secretary of the National Confederation of Trade Union of Japan, said: “ We shall build awareness on this incident at the Manesar plant among Japanese workers so we can build solidarity for the Indian workers in Japan and develop a sustained campaign for protection of dignity and labour rights of Indian workers.”

“We will take up the issue of Maruti workers with senators in the US and also advise the industry there not to invest in Haryana,” said Immanuel Ness, professor of political science at City University, New York.

New Trade Union Initiative national secretary N Vasudevan said that the basic issue in the dispute is not allowing the formation of an independent workers’ union.

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Press Release- ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited

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People’s Union for Democratic Rights
23 May 2013
Press Release
Release of PUDR report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’(May 2013) at Press Conference in Chandigarh
On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana police have been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale of police action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
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area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
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wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
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management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.
D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
Secretaries, PUDR

 

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Haryana Governor- intervene to prevent violence and repression in Kaithal

To

The Governer

Haryana

Dear Sir,

We are deeply disturbed at the news that around 120-50 Maruti Suzuki workers present in the dharna site in Kaithal on 18. 05.2013 night, have been picked up by the Haryana Police around 11.30 pm. It is a matter of extreme anguish in the way the present government of Haryana is allowing the repression of workers struggles and to punish those who are sympathetic to them.

We would like to bring to your notice that Maruti Workers’ Union had announced a Gherao in Kaithal tomorrow at the residence of Industries Minister – the government has responded by clamping down section 144 and has deployed policemen all over the town. This is likely to result in violence as the workers and their supporters are travelling long distances to show their solidarity and unnecessary repression of their planned programme is not going to generate positive feelings.

Already the stand off in Maruti has continued too long because of the unrelenting ways of the police and administration who are keeping hundreds of workers in jail and are ready to make fresh arrests in the murder case by keeping the charge sheet open.

Now the government has spread its tentacles to exclude 93 Gram Sabhas from Government aid because the Sarpanchs expressed solidarity with the union. This impinges directly on the democratic rights of the villagers. They are free to associate as per Indian Constitution.

Such pro-management measures on part of a democratically elected government are not acceptable. It is meant to safeguard the interests of Indian citizens particularly the economically weaker sections and not override all constitutional guarantees in the interest of foreign capital.

Please take urgent measures and ask the Chief Minister to exercise restraint and not crush the Dharna of the union. The need of the hour is for confidence building not further destruction of faith in lawful processes which have suffered a setback in all these months of joblessness and victimization of workers.

We demand immediate stop to any repressive actions on the part of the present government.

Release of all the workers detained and ask the government to set up a non-partisan mechanism to address workers’ grievances

 

issued by feminist group, women against sexual violence, human rights activists, orgtanistaions and individuals

 

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Maruti Suzuki :Ignition Trouble And After

Outlook Magazine  | May 13, 2013

 

Panini Anand
Court time Maruti hands being brought for a hearing
labour: maruti
Ignition Trouble And After
Jail, families thrown into trauma, grim future: the sacked Maruti labourers still harried
Cruel figures
  • 1 death in Maruti’s Manesar plant, of its HR manager Awanish Kumar Dev in July 2012, which led to a one-month lockout.
  • 66 workers on the run; in all, numerous cases have been filed against more than 200 workers at the Manesar plant
  • 147 workers lodged in Bhondsi jail, Gurgaon, for the past 9 months, named in up to 12 charges of murder
  • 550 permanent workers “suspended” by Maruti; 400 of them are agitating for jobs and an impartial probe.
  • 2100 sacked contract workers, many unemployed, have been forced to hide their connection to Maruti

***

The Hammer Strikes

  • Hearings have just begun on the framing of charges in the Gurgaon session court
  • Statement of officers recorded in charge sheet, but no versions of workers
  • Two counter complaints from workers have named 17 officials of Maruti
  • Maruti seeking to dismiss 550 suspended workers from the Labour tribunal
  • New committee of disgruntled former workers in initial talks with Maruti

***

“Are you from Maruti, or the state police department?” asks a visibly frightened lady when we knock at the door of her house in Dhakal village, Jind district, Haryana. She’s Omi Devi, mother of Jiyalal, a 27-year-old ITI dipl­oma-holder and employee at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant till the horrific incidents of July 18, 2012. That day, an argument Jiyalal had (over a caste slur) with his supervisor is said to have been the trigger for the cataclysmic events that followed—worker protests turned violent, leading to the death of an HR manager Awanish Kumar Dev, sending 100 workers and officials to hospital and enforcing a month-long lockout.

For nine months now, Jiyalal—and 146 former Maruti workers—have been lodged in Bhondsi Jail of Gurgaon. “The only mistake my son made was to speak out against the abusive language and casteist remarks. Tell me, is it wrong to stand up against such humiliation?” asks Ram Pal, his 50-year-old father. Jiyalal was supporting a family of eight—which is still in a state of shock. Aman, his 15-month-old son, has no memories of his father; his wife Sonia still looks scared, and Omi Devi keeps on crying. “Once my son is out from the jail, I will never ever let him go to work in such inhuman companies.”

That might take a while—the human cost of this labour incident has been staggering and disproportionate to the one death. After all, 12 charges of murder and more (rioting with weapons, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, and so on) have been imposed on 147 workers. FIRs have been lodged against another 66, who are on the run. Some 400 terminated workers are protesting in Haryana, seeking their rights and entitlements from Maruti Suzuki. And over 2,000 former contract and apprentice workers at the plant are trying to rebuild their lives in fear and anonymity.

Through their relatives, the workers in jail insist that they are not being treated fairly and that the “real conspirators and culprits are blaming the innocents”. The stories from behind the bars are depressing—of pregnant wives, ailing parents, starving families, malnourished children, debts and loans. “All requests of bail plea or the parole custody plea have so far been rejected. The situations at our homes are worsening day by day. We knocked at many doors—from the prime minister’s to those of local politicians—but nobody hears the pain of the poor,”  an accused worker told Outlook.

About a year back, violence broke out at Maruti’s plant in Gurgaon. Workers arrested then still see no hope ahead.

All this matters now because the hearings in the case in the sessions court, Gurgaon, began on May 1 (Labour Day, incidentally). The chargesheet, exceeding 400 pages, has been filed but workers and their counsel have declared it incomplete. “The challans have been given to us, but there’s no list of witnesses. They’ve given the pretext that it’s unsafe to disclose the names. And workers’ acc­o­unts have not been taken into consideration at all. Only statements by Maruti officials have been taken,” says Rohtak-based senior advocate Randeep S. Huda, who is representing these workers. After an argument over the chargesheet, the sessions court ordered  public prosecutor K.T.S. Tulsi to provide all documents to the workers’  counsel.Despite repeated requests, Maruti did not respond to a questionnaire from Outlook. Recently, the company appointed two top Japanese managers to tackle the HR and production facilities at the Manesar plant. Since the incident, the company has also raised wages for contract workers at the Manesar plant—a key demand behind the workers’ initial agitation.


Far away Jiyalal’s wife holds up his photo. (Photograph by Sanjay Rawat)

Also, of the 540 dismissed permanent workers of Maruti’s Manesar plant, 400 come from Haryana itself. Two districts—Jind (150 workers) and Kaithal (120 workers)—make up the maximum numbers. The terminated workers are sitting on an agitation at the district commissioner’s complex in Kaithal. Recently, they had a small victory: talks with the Maruti management in the last week of April, first since the incident in July 2012. Further talks had been sch­eduled for the first week of May.

The terminated workers are dem­anding an independent inquiry into the nine-month-old incident. When Outlook  visited the district collector’s complex in Kaithal, it found a clutch of workers, most of them in their 20s, eating, reading newspapers and discussing strategy (some of them had gone back to the villages for harvesting). “We started our agitation in Kaithal because Randeep Singh Surjewala, the minister of commerce and industries in Haryana, is from this place. Moreover, we have a base and big public support in this area. It has been more than a month and we have no money to go on with the protest. But villagers, people from the city and nearby areas are providing us food and other essential support,” says Katar Singh, member of the Provisional Committee of Sacked Maruti Workers.

It’s not easy: a new seven-member committee was formed in August last year. Two members of this committee are named in another FIR that has been lodged by the Maruti management; one of them has since been arrested, another is underground. Initially, the protest started in March outside the residence of Surjewala, but they were forced to leave. They then went to meet Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who is from Hissar, in  Haryana. But despite their meeting him 13 times, he didn’t speak a word for them. Now they are prepared to fight on their own. Sitting below a photo of Bhagat Singh and a next to a CD player belting out revolutionary songs, Bharat Kumar, one of the agitators, spews bitterness: “We always looked towards Maruti as a home but they (the management) never accepted the workers as family members.”

Yashvir Malik, 26, is one of the workers sitting in protest in Kaithal. He comes from Sudkain Khurd, a border village between Jind and Kaithal districts. His father, Ram Kumar, is a farmer with a landholding of some 1.25 acres and heavily in debt. “Yashvir is our only hope for all that we need at this age. I have no work; one leg is weak after a bad accident. My wife, too, suffers from age-related problems, anxiety. But now my only son is jobless—who will marry him? See what they have done to us,” says Ram Kumar.

Maruti workers who lost their jobs protest outside the district collector’s office in Kaithal, Haryana.

Yashvir’s family—and other villagers—are firm on fighting for the rights of these youth from their area. Yashvir’s family comes from Malik khap—the biggest khap of Haryana. When asked about the Gurgaon khaps supporting Maruti’s management, Ram Kumar says, “Gurgaon is not Haryana. The politics of Haryana is decided more from our and nearby districts. The khaps there are looking to their own interests and they are speaking the same language as our chief minister, but this is not going to help them.” It’s evident that the workers are lobbying with khaps and other social, political forces to ensure pressure is put on the state government and the Maruti Suzuki management.It’s also clear that the agitating workers are feeling let down by the lack of support for their cause. “Mainstream parties from the state and the nation have not even issued any statement on the issue. The chief minister of the state is continuously defending the Maruti management and blaming the workers. It seems that the representatives are sold out. Instead of ensuring fair and accountable governance in the state and implementation of labour rights, they are blaming the victims of the capitalism,” says Huda.

Even those who have managed to find jobs are not finding it easy to adjust to the fear around their past. Another worker Sanjay (name changed)—who was a contract worker in the Manesar plant and has no charges against him in this case—now works for a manufacturing unit in Gurgaon. “It was my first job at Maruti but I can’t tell anyone about it. If I had done so, it would have been impossible to get this job. I don’t want my new company to harass me, managers to distrust me and police to embarrass me without any reason,” says Sanjay, adding that “my present job is my first job now”. Not everyone among the 2,100 contract and apprentice workers is as lucky as Sanjay—many of them are still struggling to find jobs. The ones who have managed to do so are working for less than the minimum wages for unskilled labour.

The workers in jail have filed two counter cases against 17 Maruti Suzuki officials. The complaint by Jiyalal is pending in the court—if cleared, it might send some Maruti officials to jail under laws against inflicting atrocities upon SC/STs. In the first round of talks between workers and the management, Maruti officials insisted that workers should take back their counter complaints. In return, the workers asked the management to take them back, get innocent workers released and enforce a fair enquiry into the case. Both sides say that talks were “productive”—but it is starkly evident who is in control in this battle of unequals.

 

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Maruti Suzuki Workers Union pamphlet on the occasion of May day

April 30, 2013

[Note from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union : We are currently on an indefinite dharna in Kaithal, Haryana since 24 March 2013, which included an 8-day Hunger Strike, and will continue until our demands are met. Please join us, in large numbers on 8th May 2013 in Kaithal (in front of the D.C. Office) for a program and rally to take the struggle forward.]

sitin2

Make Stronger the Unity of the Workers of GurgaonManesarDharuhera-Bawal and the Toiling Masses of Haryana !

On the occasion of May Day, take the pledge to challenge the attack of the Capitalists and the Government which serves their interests !

Friends and Comrades,

Our experiences in struggle since 4th June 2011 provide us with the realization of a renewed importance of May Day and its glorious history. Moulded and tempered in the hearth of the struggle against exploitation and repression, the meaning of this history confronts us with an immediacy and concreteness today.

Exploitation and unceasing exploitation, struggle and repression: what all have we not witnessed during the space of these two years! On the strength of our unity and the solidarity of the workers of the industrial belt of Gurgaon-Manesar, after three phases of strike actions in 2011, we finally formed our Union in March 2012. This expression of our collective strength was unbearable to the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Manesar and the state administration, who, to break this unity, as part of the conspiracy of 18th July 2012, declared us to be mindless criminals and terminated the jobs of 546 permanent and around 1800 contract workers. Along with this, 147 of our innocent fellow workers were thrown into jail, who continue to languish there, while non-bailable arrest warrants were thrust on 66 of us. An atmosphere of terror through continuous police repression and administrative intransigence firmly on side of the company management has been hounding us ever since. When we look at the horrible exploitative conditions of work of our fellow workers inside the factory today, the rationale behind the lies and fabrications of the company’s narrative around 18th July 2012 become clear to us. The workers working inside the factory today are bereft of all the rights that we won during the first phase of our struggle. Fewer workers than earlier toil harder than before. When even as much as an inkling of a renewed attempt to raise our voice, to establish our Union inside the factory came, 13 of the more active workers were promptly transferred to various corners of the country, and the attempt crushed there itself. So much for ‘everything’s under control’ in the Maruti’s ‘way of life’!

In this entire chain of events, rather than protect the rights of workers, we’ve found that the Government of Haryana has stood firmly on the side of the labour law-flouting, exploitative and illegal mechanisms of the Maruti company management. These ministers who make thousands of false promises just before the elections, have told us on many occasions that they cannot go against the ‘interest’ of the company. Without any impartial investigation, they declared us to be guilty and convicted. Thousands of policemen were posted to hound and repress our peaceful struggle. In order to ensure that our demands for our democratic rights do not reach the broader working masses of industrial belt in other factories, for the last nine months, the Haryana administration has effectively banned all dharnas and rallies in the Manesar area. They have even arrested some of our comrades for the ‘crime’ of distributing pamphlets with demands of workers! Our legitimate demands are such an eye sore to the Haryana government, that they did not give permission to hold even a dharna in front of the office of the Gurgaon D.C., and even our ongoing dharna in front of residence of Industries Minister, R.S. Surjewala in Kaithal has been sought to be crushed through various mechanisms.

In the light of the challenges that we faced in these last two years, when we remember the legacy of May Day, we feel an iron resolve in our hearts to take the struggle to its logical direction. On 1st May 1886, 80000 workers in Chicago had taken to the streets with the demand of an 8-hour working day, establishing the firm legacy of May Day. After this, the working class movement gained many successes. Even after this long militant history, today we find the larger section of the workers toiling day and night on 12-16 hour shifts under the vise-like grip of the illegal contract worker system. Workers are pitched against each other under the pain of unemployment, and the broad working masses find their lives deteriorating by the day for the profit of a handful of capitalists. To break the vicious cycle of capitalist exploitation, our previous generations have left us a strong legacy of militant struggle. Today when the capitalist regime and the government which is hand-in-glove with it, is making an all-out effort to snatch the gains of this legacy, we have to assume serious responsibility and resolve to protect these gains and take forward the workers movement with its new challenges.

During the space of our struggle, we have witnessed how the owners disregard and actively fight against our legitimate rights, even against the fundamental right to freedom of association and formation of Union to all others. Our movement has had two primary demands – the right to organize and complete abolition of the illegal contract worker system. Both these demands are well within the ambit of our Constitutional rights, but not only the company management, but even the media and the government which stands on the basis of the Constitution has continuously tried to suppress this. After the formation of our Union in March 2012, the Maruti company management flatly refused to even negotiate on our demand of regularizing contract workers in our Charter of Demands. The owners cannot tolerate the unity of permanent and contract workers. While the contract worker system has on the one hand become the principal basis of profit extraction from the cheap, insecure labour for capitalists today, it is at the same time becoming the main reason of the miserable conditions of workers in the country and worldwide. This is the main weapon in the hands of the capitalists to divide the workers movement. We can only face this by generalizing our unity and make our struggle against the segmentation between permanent and contract workers more resolute. We have learnt this lesson from our struggle.

Comrades, May Day is the celebration of the collective power arising from the unity of workers! But this unity is today in a precarious condition and we are faced with many difficulties while confronting this task of rebuilding our unity. The ever-worsening conditions of work and life are being responded to by the eruption of anger and unrest by workers all over the country. Despite the emergence of these mostly spontaneous bursts of anger, we feel that an able and responsible leadership organically linked with these aspirations and with the correct direction, is lacking which can take these agitations to the logical militant direction that they demand. To establish the unity of permanent and contract workers, a lot still requires to be done. While in the last phase we have witnessed the formation of Unions in some factories here and there, there remains a glaring need to form an even stronger unity among workers across various factories. Owing to these problems, even struggles which are militant in their initial phase, face disappointment and are forced to come to a compromise. Today, the Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal industrial area is among the main centers of industrial production in the country. The working masses here have had experiences of many big movements in the area. In this scenario, it is important that we imbibe the knowledge gleaned in these struggles and make an uncompromising attempt to seek out solutions to the challenges we face, and also take it forward to the working masses of the entire country. Any exploitation of workers anywhere is an attack on the entire workers movement. To build up a concrete militant unity against this, is our primary aim. We want to place this task before the working class of the entire country today on the occasion of May Day, and pledge ourselves completely to work towards this aim.

Inquilab Zindabad! Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad!

MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION

Released by the Provisional Working Committee, MSWU, Manesar, Gurgaon

 

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Press Release-Auto Workers convention @9dec #Delhi

MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION

Registration No. 1923

IMT Manesar

 

 

Press Release: 8 December 2012

As you know, we from Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) have called for an Auto Workers CONVENTION on 9th December 2012 in Ambedkar Bhavan, Jhandewalan, New Delhi with common demands of auto workers in NCR industrial belt.

 

This program with our legitimate demands has been declared one week back, for which we have given due information for permission to the PMO and the Paharganj police station and have received copies of the same. But Haryana and Delhi government administration through the use of Police of both the states, along with CID Haryana has come down heavily on us for raising our legal and legitimate demands. They have denied us permission to hold the Convention in the evening today with the imagined reason that this will disrupt peace in the area. And since last two days, Haryana Police and CID has been calling on us and our parents and relatives to strongly threaten against holding this program and any such program in the future, or force will be used against us.

 

We condemn this direct attack on our democratic right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution by the joint forces of Haryana and Delhi government administration through the naked use of force in the service of the Maruti Suzuki management. And with what we have seen in the last four months, this is nothing new to us now, as the police and government administration have nakedly sided with the company management in their attempt to crush our voice of truth.

We appeal to all concerned with democratic rights and our just struggle to stand by us as we will go ahead with the declared program tomorrow and similar programs in the near future. Our fellow workers from across Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal-Noida-Faridabad-Ghaziabad industrial belt will join us and strengthen our struggle.

 

Condemning the police and administrative action against us, we reiterate our demands:

1. In the permanent nature of work in the auto sector in Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal-Faridabad-Noida-Ghaziabad industrial region, completely abolish the illegal contract worker system by the year 2013. Till they are not made permanent, all workers in the auto sector in this region should be given minimum wage of Rs.15,000.

2. All permanent workers in the auto sector must be given minimum wage of Rs.25000.

3. Unions must be formed in the auto belt industrial region. Within 45 days of application for registration of Trade Union, the concerned labour department must ensure the registration of the Trade Union with due process.

4. The High Court order in favour of workers of Eastern Medikit must be immediately implemented and the illegal lockout be ended. Take back all the workers of Eastern Medkit and ensure payment of due wages.

5. Along with all the 546 illegally terminated workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar, all the contract workers must be immediately taken back to work.

6. All the arrested workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar must be immediately released, the false cases withdrawn and stop the repression and torture of workers.

 

Sincere Regards,

Provisional Working Committee
MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS UNION

 

Program details:
Date: 9 December 2012; 11am to 6pm.
Place: Ambedkar Bhavan, Panchkuiyan Road, near Jhandewalan Metro Station, New Delhi

 

Contact: Imaan Khan- 09467704883, Ramnivas- 08901127876, Omprakash-08607154232, Mahavir-09560564754,Yogesh- 08510043143, Katar Singh-09728778870, Rajpal- 09555425175

 

 

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