The struggle of the workers in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, IMT Manesar refuses to die. Just when it was quietening under settlement truce, it stood up again, gathering political edge and crucial concrete support among workers in the area. In a significant development today, the 7th of October 2011, the workers in seven nearby factories along with workers of MARUTI SUZUKI INDIA LTD, IMT MANESAR have gone on strike. These are workers in the nearby plants of SUZUKI POWERTRAIN INDIA LTD. and SUZUKI CASTINGS (Plot 1, Phase 3A), and SUZUKI MOTORCYCLE INDIA PVT. LTD (in the Gurgaon-Manesar road), along with the workers of LUMAX AUTO TECHNOLOGIES LTD (165, Sector-5), SATYAM AUTO COMPONENTS LIMITED (26 C, Sector – 3), ENDURANCE TECHNOLOGIES LTD ( Plot no. 400, Sector 8), HI-LEX INDIA PVT LTD, (Plot No.55 Sector-3) completely halting production.
More than 10000 workers in these factories have stood in solidarity with the struggling comrades in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), cautioning the management against its refusal to refrain from unfair labour practices and vindictive attitude, even after the recent settlement on September 30. They ask the management to stop targeting contract workers in MSIL.
Suzuki Powertrain India Ltd., which manufactures diesel engines and transmissions for MSIL and has an annual production capacity of 3 lakh units, has around 1250 trainee and permanent workers, along with over 600 contract workers; Suzuki Castings, a part of Powertrain, has around 375-400 trainee and permanent workers, with over 500 contract workers, while Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd., has around 1200-1400 workers who relentlessly produce around 1,200 motorcycles and scooters a day. These around 4500 workers along with over 5000 workers in the nearby plants of Lumax Auto Tech Ltd, Satyam Auto Components Ltd, Endurance Technologies Ltd and Hi-Lex India (P) Ltd., have joined forces with around 1000 permanent workers sitting in and 1200-1300 workers demonstrating outside the gate of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
The build-up to this strike has of course been the long struggle of MSIL workers, organised under Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) on the right to organize and unionise. They have resisted the vindictive attack by the management and its relentless efforts to divide them. Throughout the conflict, the state administration, police and even the media have shown their anti-worker character. The struggle which began this time on August 29th after the attack by the management – terminating and suspending 62 workers, came to a settlement on 30th September 2011. A crucial aspect of the settlement was that the permanent workers union fought for and secured the rights of the 18 terminated trainees who otherwise had insecure nature of jobs. This only confirms the solid unity among permanent, contract and casual workers that has been the hallmark of MSIL workers’ struggles.
Under the settlement, the management was to refrain from acting against the workers in ‘bad faith or with vengeance’, but this unity of the workers during the struggle and after the settlement was not acceptable to it. The management is hell bent on breaking the spirit of solidarity and struggle among the workforce. After partial production resumed this Monday, October 3, the management was more interested in furthering its agenda of attack on workers’ unity through various means rather than resuming production. A reshuffling on the assembly line was done to this effect, with workers who have worked for four years on a line, were shifted to some other area on the shop floor. More importantly, around 1000-1200 contract workers were not allowed to enter the factory premises and were turned back from the gate when they reported for duty on Monday. This was done, as is the management’s ploy in the area, to pit the contract workers against the permanent workforce and to break their spirit of unity and struggle.
When the leadership of Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) met the DC, Labour Commissioner and other state authorities against this unfair labour practice of the management of MSIL, and against the spirit of the settlement of 30th September this week, they got empty assurances, and dismissive attitude. The management is however adamant that its project of teaching workers a lesson is not over and refuses to budge from its position. It in fact, used a contractor, Rakesh, who brought in 10-15 ‘bouncers’ to threaten and physically assault the workers when they gathered outside the gate today, to provoke the workers so that the police could be brought in again.
These conditions of a completely anti-worker attitude of the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, its relentless vengeful attack on the solidarity of workers, its refusal of work to contract workers even after the settlement, its use of legal and illegal measures to crush the spirit of struggle of workers must stop immediately, and we appeal to all concerned to stand in solidarity with this continuing struggle of workers.