In a context where contract workers, increasing in numbers exponentially, are finding it ever harder to get united/organized due to the precarious nature of their work and life conditions, workers at ASTI Electronics and in nearby Munjal Kiriu are keeping the flame of new struggles alive. Though one cannot say how far and till where these struggles will eventually find their ways, this present struggle at both these factories is an important step.
As the attack on labour rights intensifies across the country, workers of ASTI factory, Manesar, in Haryana are fighting back with their courageous struggle. All 310 contract workers of this auto parts factory were illegally terminated and they are on strike since 1st November. These workers are raising important question on contractualization in the organized sector which even Central Trade Unions have constantly avoided. Over 250 of them are women workers whose militancy is redefining the overall struggle and changing the gender relations within the workers movement. On 17th Nov, workers at ASTI were joined by workers from other factories in a spirited rally in the Manesar industrial area.
ASTI Electronics India Ltd is a subsidiary of Asti Corp, Japan which produces wiring harness, switches, controllers, and other automotive and electronics parts. It supplies to auto companies like Suzuki Motorcycles, Maruti Suzuki, Yamaha Motors, Omron Automotive etc. It has branches in Japan, China, Vietnam and India. In harnessing unit production at Manesar, there are two production systems: one is manual and the other, automatic. Production takes place in three shifts. The manual section produces 3000 units per shift with 50 employees, of which only 17 are permanent. The Automatic section produces 12000 units per shift employing 25 workers, of which only 3 are permanent. There are two layers of production process used in this company: sub assembly line where each table is occupied by one worker and later the processed material goes on the conveyor belt assembly line. Most of the workers work as operators. Contract workers earn between 5000 and 7000 per month.
On 1st November 2014, Company officials, without any prior notice, announced that all contract workers are terminated with immediate effect. The decision is not actually as abrupt as it looks and has its root to workers’ demand of forming union, earlier this year. On 18th February 2014, workers demanded to form union which was followed by one day strike in the factory. February strike resulted in registration of the union affiliated with HMS. Contract and permanent workers contributed 1500 to 5000 rupees respectively for this cause. The union successfully negotiated with factory management for wage settlement and permanent job for the contract workers. However the management had other ideas and they sacked contract workers as a ploy to deny them permanent positions.
Since 3rd November, all 310 terminated contract workers including 250 female workers are sitting outside the factory premises against the termination. Two meetings with labour inspectors have already taken place without any effect. Workers held a rally in Manesar on 13th November from Munjal Kiriu to ASTI in solidarity with the workers of protesting against the suspension in Munjal Kiriu. Workers from several factories like Maruti, Baxter, Munjal Kiriu, Auto fit took part. This rally ended in front of ASTI gate.
Terminated ASTI workers, mainly lead by women comrades, are going to hold another gate meeting on 19th November at 2:30 PM. They have given call to all progressive alliances to participate in this meeting. Kindly join in solidarity with their just demand against termination.
Labour Solidarity Forum
[For more details, contact Santosh (8860322089) and Amit (9873057637)]
For a report of the earlier strike see here: http://sanhati.com/articles/