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.]
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
- Appeal From Jail: Stand In Solidarity With Us For Justice (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)