Further Material

* Links, Videos and Documents –

* Links for the Debate

http://www.radicalnotes.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/WithMarutiWorkers/?ref=ts
http://kafila.org/2011/09/06/speed-and-control-at-manesar-why-is-the-mar...

* Videos

http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/truth-vs-hype-maruti-trouble-at-th...

http://www.radicalnotes.com/journal/2011/10/21/working-conditions-maruti...

http://www.radicalnotes.com/journal/2011/10/20/video-maruti-suzukis-atte...

http://www.radicalnotes.com/journal/2011/10/18/october-17-gurgaon-rally-...

* Documents

17th of June Agreement
The 11 terminated workers will be taken back, but enquiry proceedings will be initiated against them and “appropriate disciplinary action” will be taken. Regular employees will be considered to have resumed work on June 17th, but actual shifts will resume from midnight on June 18th. An extra day of work on June 19th will be required to compensate for not working on June 17th.
In accordance with the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and the standing orders of the company, workers participating in the strike are liable to a fine of three days wages for every day of work lost. However, it was agreed that, for the moment, only ten days’ wages will be deducted (ie one day’s wage for each day of the strike). The remaining amount of the fine will be waived if, and only if, the workers maintain good behaviour and discipline, and abide by the rules of the company.
In accordance with the principle of “no work, no pay”, the workers will not be paid for the days they were on strike.
The workers agreed to maintain discipline, ensure expected levels of production and not indulge in any individual or collective activities that would hamper the normal functioning of the factory. The management also agreed not to behave badly or hold a grudge against the workers.
The agreement will be taken as a final resolution of all disputes between the workers and the management.

30th of October Agreement
The details of the settlement are as below:
1. 15 workmen who have been dismissed shall be reinstated and placed under suspension and impartial inquiry will be initiated against them.
2. 18 trainees who have been terminated will be reinstated.
3. 29 workmen placed under suspension will remain under suspension and face impartial inquiry.
4. On the principle of “no work, no pay”, no workman shall be eligible for wages from August 29 until the day of reporting for duties. In addition, a penalty of “deduction of wage for one day” shall be imposed upon them.
5. All workmen shall sign the revised good conduct bond and join duties with effect from October 3.

Good Conduct Bond*
In Terms of Clause 25(3) of the Certified Standing Orders

I,………………………. S/o…………………………. Staff
no…………. do hereby execute and sign this good conduct bond
voluntarily in my own volition in accordance with Clause 25(3) of the
Certified Standing Orders. I undertake that upon joining my duties I shall give normal production in disciplined manner and that I shall not resort to go slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in strike, work to rule, sabotage or otherwise indulge in any activity, which would hamper the normal production in the factory. I am aware that resorting to go slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in strike, or indulging in any other activity having adverse effect on the normal production constitutes a major misconduct under the Certified Standing Orders and the punishment provided for committing such acts of misconducts includes dismissal from service without notice, under clause 30 of the Certified Standing Orders. I, therefore, do hereby agree that if, upon joining my duties, I am found
indulging in any activity such as go slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in strike, work to rule, sabotage or any other activity having the effect of hampering normal production, I shall be liable to be dismissed from service as provided under the Certified Standing Orders.

Date:……………………
Signature of the workman.

“I agree that if on joining duty I am found indulging in go-slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in strike, work to rule, sabotage or otherwise indulge in any activity which would hamper the normal production in the factory, I will be liable to be dismissed from service without notice, as provided under the certified standing orders.”
(i) Apply or obtain leave on a false pretext.
(ii) Lack of proper personal appearance, sanitation and cleanliness including proper grooming.
(iii) Conduct in private life prejudicial to the reputation of the company.
(iv) Remaining in a toilet for a substantially long period of time.
(v) Habitual neglect of cleanliness.

* Contribution for the Debate: A Critique of the ‘Balance-Sheet of the Maruti Suzuki Struggle’ in GurgaonWorkersNews no.41 –

We thank the comrades who took the time to write down a contribution to the debate. We did not yet find the time for a proper reply, but hope that a reply can partly be found in the political thesis of this newsletter and the Faridabad Majdoor Samachar article, following their contribution below.

ARE THE MARUTI WORKERS REALLY DEFEATED?
A DISCUSSION ON “BALANCE SHEET OF MARUTI SUZUKI WORKERS STRIKE”
Published in GurgaonWorkerNews No 41 July 9, 2011

1. We think that this is very unfortunate that the comrades who have drawn up the “balance sheet” have termed this struggle as a defeat. We have been told that “Despite the young workers’ courage and the fact that the company was hit at times of full-capacity the strike ended in a defeat for the mass of workers.” Why? They continued in that line, “They did not enforce any betterment of conditions and wages, which was their main concern.” Is it really a fact that the Maruti workers started this strike for “betterment of conditions and wages” as has been told by the comrades. No, the comrades have completely overlooked the fact that the workers did not start the strike with any such demands. The strike started spontaneously because the management started to coerce the workers to join the management controlled union. It is also a fact that the workers, either a section or whole of them, were trying to organise themselves in a separate, fighting union. Even if it is true that only a section of workers were active in organizing this new union, the fact that the new union had the backing of overwhelming majority of workmen had become evident from later facts. So, actually the strike was not at all for any demands, like wage revision or improvement of their service conditions as has been assumed by the GurgaonWorkerNews. The workers went for a strike to foil the conspiracy of the management to force them into joining the management-controlled union; the workers went for the strike to preserve their right to form their own union, they fought for their control over their own struggle. Had they achieved their demand? Definitely not completely. But, definitely they have foiled the plan of the management and they have done it by fighting alone against such a mighty management like Suzuki management and who had the complete backing of the Government of Haryana, and definitely we can well assume, the overt and covert backing of the Central Government also, which is very likely in this era of Globalisation. Yes, it is fact that the workers could not force the management to recognize the new union. Actually they did not wage their strike to do that. They did not heighten the movement for recognition of their union by management. They kept themselves within the limit to foil the conspiracy of management. They have done it and the workers are not only still organised, they have consolidated their strength and basically they have formed their union through the strike, whether they have got the formal registration or not is immaterial to us. We have seen in the meeting held just after the withdrawal of the strike, the workers themselves could recognize and appreciate this fact that not the registration, but this unity shown and achieved during this 11 day is the real union. But, unfortunately our comrades could not appreciate it. It is obvious that the struggle between the workmen and the management will continue regarding the organisation of the workers, the result of which will decide the fate of their next struggle, struggle for their economic demands. However, for the present the workers have foiled the conspiracy of the mighty Maruti management, they are still united and organised, consolidated their strength and trying to launch their next battle. These achievements are no mean achievement, considering the disintegrated, unorganized state of the working class movement through which we are passing now. The representatives of big bourgeoisie will definitely try to belittle the achievement. Should we also do likewise?

2. Another important achievement of the workers is that they have forced the management to take back the dismissed workmen. It is important because it will help to retain their strength. Had the management been able to dismiss the leadership it would have helped them to advance in their conspiracy to break the unity of the workmen, conversely by forcing the management to take back the dismissed workmen, the workers have been able to advance in the direction of organisation and also future struggle.

3. Even if the workers had not achieved anything palpable (“material gain”), even if they had to go down fighting, would their struggle lose all significance? Should the real representatives of working class think in that way? For one moment remember how many struggles of historic significance had been actually defeated in terms of achievements. No, do not think at all that we are comparing this struggle with any such struggle of historic significance. What we are trying to impress is simply the fact that for anybody who is fighting not for any improvement of the condition of working class keeping the system of exploitation intact but for the abolition of the system of exploitation as a whole, it is not important at all what gains in wages or service conditions the workers are now achieving, the only important thing to them should be whether the workers are uniting and organizing themselves more and more, whether their struggling unity and organisation is preparing them to fight the capitalists, helping them to discover their real strength, helping them to stand on their feet, build their own, independent organisation which will lead them in their struggle for the complete emancipation from the exploitation of the capitalist class. Definitely, these spontaneous, economic struggles of the workmen, especially in the narrow factory plane will not itself advance to the struggle of working class for complete emancipation. But, definitely, through these struggles the workers are awakening and from among these fighting workmen, will awaken the advance, class conscious workers of future working class struggle. Those, who are fighting for the complete emancipation of working class, should not evaluate any struggle of workers from what material gains in terms of improvements in the condition of the workers the struggle could achieve or not, but whether the struggle will help the workers to advance in the long path of struggle for complete emancipation.

4. Undoubtedly there is a tendency among the workers in general to rely on the formal recognition or registration from the Government. Definitely, it is a sign of their backwardness, which we have seen amongst the fighting workmen of different factories, that too, of different areas of the country, who think that the formal registration will help them to maintain their union, will help them to resist the attacks of the management to break their union. We know very well that the real strength of the workers lies in their struggling unity, not in any formal registration or recognition and so the workers should not have depended so much on the registration of the union. However, is it not natural that the workers will display such examples of backwardness, considering the state of the working class movement in which they are in. Is there any real Working Class party to help? To educate these fighting workers? Are there any working class organisations which have the real organic link with the masses of workers, upon whom the workers can depend and also depend in reality? No. There is no force to educate, to guide the fighting workers in their struggle, no force to develop the workers struggle into a real struggle for the complete emancipation from exploitation. The workers are struggling and also learning from the experience of their struggle and life on their own. So, in this process it is very likely that they will make mistakes, but we must keep faith on them and help them. Can we help them by belittling their achievements and inflating their weaknesses, backwardness etc?

5. The workers are learning through their experiences of struggle. Summing up their experiences of the betrayal of established parties, especially the left parties, the workmen are trying to establish their control on their organisation and struggle. The Maruti workers are also showing such signs in their struggle. They have depended somewhat on some establish parties to get the registration, but in essence maintained their independence over their struggle. This is the most significant feature in this struggle. However, the Gurgaon Workers News has rightly pointed out that “is naïve to repeat the phrase of ‘betrayal’ of the main unions.”, the workers should free themselves from any dependence on the established parties and more and more depend on their own strength. We do not know what they meant by ” ‘political’ experience of self-organisation”, but it is undoubtedly true that political consciousness of workers would have helped the workers not only to free them from the influences of the old established parties but also to free themselves from the influences of the reformist politics of these parties. In fact, the dependence of the workers on the legal structures is an apt example of such pernicious influences of reformist politics practiced by the established parties, especially the so-called ‘left’ parties. The political consciousness, more correctly, class consciousness of the workers will help them to free themselves of the pernicious influences of the politics of the establish parties. Not only will it help them to build their struggle for complete emancipation, but also help them to develop the present economic struggles. Once the workers will become conscious about the real class character of the present legal structures, the class character of the established parties, especially the so-called left parties, It will help them to free themselves from dependence on the legal structures ( like dependence on the formal recognition of the union as shown by the Maruti workmen ), to understand the conspiracy of the established parties, and also help them to form and develop their independent organisation, free from the control and influence of the established parties. But how this political consciousness will grow among the workers? Here, we face a paradox. To make the workers really politically conscious we need a real working class party. But, how can a real working class party develop without a substantial segment of class conscious workers, especially in the present situation of defeat of working class movement? So, it is very natural that the workers will fight on their own strength, with the instruments of struggle which they are building up from their past experience and they will also learn from their present experience, from the weaknesses, defeats of the present struggle. Definitely it is tortuous path, but probably inevitable also. Maruti workers are part of this struggle, part of the process of new awakening of working class, who are awakening not only in our country, but in different countries throughout the world. We must help them in this process and to do that definitely we should criticize their weaknesses, but we shall have to do that from a class point of view and obviously upholding advancements they are making. We shall have to understand the real condition of present working class movement, analyse the strength and weaknesses of their movement against this backdrop and understand the achievements and weaknesses of the workers. Otherwise, we will not be able to really help the workers in their struggle.

———

* Article in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar with Workers’ Reports after the first Factory Occupation in June –

FROM HONDA TO MARUTI SUZUKI: A WIDE ANGLE VIEW OF CORPORATE STRATEGIES

(New Series No. 277, July 2011)

WHAT THE MARUTI BALANCE SHEET SHOWS

The 300-acre Maruti Suzuki factory in Gurgaon houses three plants and produces 7 lakh cars a year. The engine plant alone has a manufacturing capacity of 7.5 lakh engines a year.

The 600-acre Maruti-Suzuki plant in Manesar started production in February 2007. This factory houses Maruti’s newest assembly plant with a capacity of 3 lakh cars a year.

Another assembly plant in this factory will begin production in March 2012 and will have a capacity of 2.5 lakh cars a year. The Suzuki Powertrain Diesel Engine factory adjoins Maruti’s Manesar factory. This is a joint venture of Suzuki Motors (70%) and Maruti-Suzuki (30%) and has a capacity of 3 lakh engines a year.

12.7 lakh Maruti-Suzuki cars were produced in 2010-11 – 2.7 lakh units more than the installed capacity of its plants – and representing almost half of all cars produced in India.

Around 1.4 lakh Maruti-Suzuki cars were exported to 120 countries in 2010-11.Maruti earned slightly more than Rs.40,419 crores from sale of its cars during 2010-11.

Maruti-Suzuki contributed a total of Rs.4290.81 crores to the national exchequer by way of excise duties, and paid Rs.820.11 crores in taxes to the Haryana Government in 2010-11.
The company declared a total share capital of Rs.144.46 crores. The value of a Rs.5/- share went up to Rs.79.22 during 2010-11.

After deducting payments to employees (Rs.703.62 crores), bank interest payments (Rs.24.41 crores), costs of raw materials and plant maintenance (Rs.27,576.13 crores) and other expenses, the company declared a net profit of Rs.2288.64 crores.

WHAT THE BALANCE SHEET DOESN’T SHOW

Maruti-Suzuki had 8,500 employees as of March 31, 2011. Only 3,200 of the total of 8,500 employees are factory workers – 2,300 at the Gurgaon factory and 950 at the Manesar factory.
Apart from these 3,200 regular workers, every other worker in the Maruti factories is a contract worker, hired through a labour contractor.

Maruti first started hiring contract workers in 1977. In 2001, after a strike at the Gurgaon factory which was probably engineered by the management and was ruthlessly crushed, 1250 regular workers were laid off. Another 1250 workers were laid off in 2003. As of 2007, the Gurgaon factory had 1,800 regular workers and 4000 contract workers. The number of contract workers at the present date is not known.

According to figures from the ILO, regular workers comprise only 15% of the Maruti-Suzuki factory workforce – 85% are contract workers. This is a much lower proportion of regular workers than in companies such as Nokia (50% regular workers) and Ford (25% regular workers).

Regular workers in the Maruti-Suzuki factory are paid an average monthly basic salary of Rs.5,300/- and an “attendance allowance” of Rs.8,900/-. An amount of Rs.2,500/- is deducted from the salary for every day of non-attendance other than earned leave.

Contract workers hired through a labour contractor are paid an average monthly wage of Rs.7,200/- (for those with an ITI diploma) and Rs.6,200/- (for those who do not have an ITI diploma). There is no provision for leave, and an amount of Rs.2,000/- per day is deducted for absence from work.

THE ARITHMETIC OF PROFIT

Assuming that none of the workers took leave, the total amount paid out by Maruti-Suzuki to their regular factory employees during 2010-11 is Rs.54.52 crores. Assuming that the number of contract workers today is 8,000 (twice that in 2007) and calculating at the higher rate (Rs.7,200/- per month) the total amount paid to the contract workers in 2010-11 is Rs.69.12 crores. The total amount paid to factory workers (Rs.123.64 crores) represents 5.4% of the profits of Rs.2,288.64 crore made by Maruti-Suzuki in the same period.

THE MARUTI FORMULA- “LEAN MANUFACTURING”

One year ago, it took a herculean effort for the Manesar plant, working two shifts on the main (automated) production line, to make 1,100 cars a day. Today, the plant rolls out 1,200 cars every day from the main line and another 150 from the manual line. How has the pace of production has been stepped up?

Maruti Production System or MPS draws learnings from its parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation’s concepts on `lean manufacturing’ under Suzuki Production System (SPS).

Setting trends in new products and achieving customer delight starts with Manufacturing Excellence and Maruti’s manufacturing excellence hinges around four important pillars-Cost, Quality, Safety and Productivity.

Every employee working on the line is ‘cost sensitive’ and functions in capacity of a Cost Manager. He is a key contributor in suggesting how to keep costs of production under control.

A product of poor quality requires repeated inspections, entails wastage in terms of repairs and replacements. “Do it right first time,” is the principle followed to avoid wastage. To ensure quality, robots were devices and deployed, especially where they reduced worker fatigue and were critical in delivering consistent quality. With consistent improvements in the plant the company was able to manufacture over 600,000 vehicles in 2006-07 with an installed capacity of just 350,000 vehicles per year.

“Home or work place; Safety takes First Place”. This has been the motto of the company where safety is concerned. Maruti attaches great significance to safety of its people and strongly advocates that safety at work place adds to quality of the products and improves productivity of the plant significantly.

In the Japanese manufacturing system, the central role is accorded, not so much to Quality, Productivity or Cost, but to Safety. When process flow, lay-out and systems are designed for maximum safety, they automatically contribute to better quality and productivity.
– from http://www.marutisuzuki.com/lean-manufacturing.aspx

The deepening economic crisis is justification enough for companies like Maruti to push even harder to cut costs and increase production. Shorn of jargon, Maruti’s much-lauded lean manufacturing system is the tried-and-tested traditional system of squeezing the workers through increasing workloads, cutting wages and benefits, undercutting investments in safety and increased casualisation of the workforce.

Here’s what lean manufacturing looks like on the factory floor.

The paintshop at the Manesar plant is a schizophrenic combination of cutting-edge robotic technology and brute physical labour. One one side are 12 painting robots. On the other, are workers carrying 25 kilo headloads of used screens up two flights of stairs and returning with a 30 kilo load of clean screens. Each worker has to carry 70-80 screens up and down the stairs, working an extra hour without pay if the job is not done by the end of the shift. The lunch-break (30 minutes) and tea break (15 minutes) are not counted as part of the working time on the shift.

The Quality Maintenance Unit employs 95 workers hired through a labour contractor. Their job includes cleaning out the tanks that hold thinners and solvents. They are always on the C-shift – from 12.30 in the night to 8.30 the next morning. Workers on the C-shift work non-stop. There are no breaks for food or tea. The food allowance of Rs.44/- that they used to be given has now been slashed to half. By the end of the shift, they are exhausted, giddy and nauseous from the chemical fumes they inhale. Workers in the Quality Maintenance Unit put in 32 to 192 hours of overtime every month, for which they are paid only Rs.28/- per hour, well short of the legal minimum of 1.5 times the normal wage. For many of these workers, the shift can extend to 17.5 hours of non-stop work without breaks or food.

“The tea break is seven minutes long. In that time, we have to run to the canteen, line up for tea and a snack, use the toilet and get back to the assembly line – and they expect us to be back with a minute to spare.”

“The line moves so fast that there’s no time even to scratch an itch…”

“The company gave us all mobiles as gifts to celebrate reaching the one crore production mark, but what’s the use – we don’t have the time to call anyone.”

WORKERS AT THE MANESAR PLANT, SPEAKING TO FMS

Casual workers hired through a labour contractor are paid an average monthly wage of Rs.7,200/- (for those with an ITI diploma) and Rs.6,200/- (for those who do not have an ITI diploma). Casual workers on the A and B shifts are entitled to free meals at the canteen. There is no provision for leave. Wages for the day, and an extra penalty of Rs.2,000/- are deducted for every absence from work. Any protests or arguments with the contractor are dealt with by immediate dismissal.

Regular workers are not much better off. Their package consists of a basic pay of Rs.5,300/-, an incentive/attendance allowance of Rs.8,900/-, a house rent allowance of Rs.1,600/-, a Dearness Allowance and an allowance for children’s education, adding up to between Rs.17,000 and 18,000/- a month. Although their contracts include provisions for paid leave and casual leaves, each day off work results in a deduction of Rs.2,200/- from the incentive allowance. The entire amount of Rs.8,900/- is forfeited if a worker takes more than four days off in a month.

Regular workers cannot be threatened by dismissal, but are harassed and humiliated by supervisors who abuse and manhandle them, arbitrarily move them from one assembly line to another, and report them to managers or the HR Unit for concocted offences.

THE STRIKE

The workers at the Manesar factory started a new union in April 2011. The membership included both regular workers and casual workers hired through labour contractors. The management refused to recognize this union. On June 4, 2011, the workers stopped work. The A shift was just ending and the workers on the B shift had all come in. Workers on the C-shift were quickly contacted over the phone and asked to join the strike. Before the management realised what was happening, more than 2,000 men – regular workers, apprentices, trainees and contract workers from all three shifts – had occupied the factory, sending the management into a complete panic.

As the strike went into its second week, the Haryana Government declared it illegal, but was unwilling to intervene as they had done in the Honda strike. Although police were stationed in the factory premises, the management was reluctant to force the workers out of the factory, given the the risk of damage to the equipment. Equally, the workers were determined to hold their ground inside the factory – everyone was aware that being forced or persuaded to vacate the premises would be the beginning of the end, as it had been for striking workers in Rico Auto, Denso, Viva Global, Harsurya Healthcare, Senden Vikas …. crushed protests that left workers far more vulnerable than before.

By the time the strike entered its tenth day, the factory had lost Rs.600 crores and Maruti shares had plummeted in value. It was obvious that the Maruti management and the government were helpless in the face of the workers’ determined refusal to surrender.

The agreement between the workers and the management that ended the strike on June 16th does not reflect this situation. No one reading this extraordinary document would guess that the workers were in a strong bargaining position while the management and the government had their backs to the wall. Instead, those who brokered this “return to normalcy” created a scenario that disempowered the workers and made it seem as if it was their inability to hold out any longer that brought them to the negotiating table.

THE AGREEMENT

The signing of the agreement and the fact that the management agreed to take back the 11 office-bearers of the new union who had been dismissed on 6 June, has been hailed as a victory for the workers by some commentators.

But the terms of the agreement suggest otherwise.

A bitter “victory”

The 11 terminated workers will be taken back, but enquiry proceedings will be initiated against them and “appropriate disciplinary action” will be taken. Regular employees will be considered to have resumed work on June 17th, but actual shifts will resume from midnight on June 18th. An extra day of work on June 19th will be required to compensate for not working on June 17th.

In accordance with the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and the standing orders of the company, workers participating in the strike are liable to a fine of three days wages for every day of work lost. However, it was agreed that, for the moment, only ten days’ wages will be deducted (ie one day’s wage for each day of the strike). The remaining amount of the fine will be waived if, and only if, the workers maintain good behaviour and discipline, and abide by the rules of the company.

In accordance with the principle of “no work, no pay”, the workers will not be paid for the days they were on strike.

The workers agreed to maintain discipline, ensure expected levels of production and not indulge in any individual or collective activities that would hamper the normal functioning of the factory. The management also agreed not to behave badly or hold a grudge against the workers.
The agreement will be taken as a final resolution of all disputes between the workers and the management.

The story of the Maruti Suzuki strike of 2011 is very similar to that of the Honda strike of 2005. The Honda workers were persuaded by the so-called negotiators to come out of the factory. Once they did, they were mercilessly beaten by the police. By brokering this agreement, the self-appointed negotiators in the Maruti case have dealt an even more lethal blow to the workers’ struggle. The Maruti Suzuki management is exhibiting care and concern for workers’ welfare in the immediate aftermath of the strike. If the Honda case is anything to go by, this phase will be short-lived, and will be followed by a further tightening of the screws.

The 1,700 Honda regular employees who launched the strike in 2005 were workers on the factory floor. Of the 1,800 regular workers on the Honda rolls today, a large segment works as supervisors of contract workers hired through labour contractors. For instance, the motorcycle engine assembly plant at the Honda factory in Manesar is run by 4 engineers, 12 regular workers and 110 casual workers hired through a labour contracting company. Each shift in the assembly line in the no.2 motorcycle plant has 8 staff, 3 line leaders, 4 regular workers, 4 casual workers hired directly by the company and 101 contract workers hired through a labour contractor. Workers hired through labour contractors are responsible for the bulk of the production in the Honda plant. There are 6,500 such workers on the production line, and another 1500 in ancillary departments.

THE ISSUE IS GLOBAL

Regular workers and irregular workers. Casual workers employed directly by the company and contract workers employed through a labour contractor. Registered contractors and unregistered contractors. Workers who are entitled to PF and ESI, and workers who are not entitled to these benefits….

As many as 75% of the factory workers workers in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad are invisible in government statistics. The vast majority – over 80% – of these workers are paid less than the statutory minimum wage. Shifts of 12 to 18 hours are the norm, and overtime is compensated at the same rate as regular duty and not at twice the regular rate as required by law.

The situation of workers in Maruti Suzuki and Honda is mirrored in thousands of small and medium factories operating within the 300 or so square kilometres of Delhi and the NCR, that are connected to other such operations in other cities thousands of kilometres away. All of them are struggling against similar strategies of exploitation and resisting attempts to undermine solidarity and unity.

Yet, it is this globalisation of oppression that is creating the conditions for solidarity across boundaries of race and nation, across different industries, different sectors, different companies.

————-

* Short Reports by Workers in Automobile Factories in Manesar/Faridabad, Distributed by FMS Shortly before Dispute at Maruti Suzuki Broke Out –

Factory Reports – FMS no. 274, April 2011

Flash Electronics (Automobile Parts Manufacturer)
(Plot 3, 8, 9, Sector 27 B, Faridabad)
Together with the general shift of 12.5 hours there is a day shift and night shift of 12 hours each. Those workers who start at 8 am in the morning are supposed to finish at 8 pm, but often they are made to work till 1 am or 5 am next morning. On Sundays workers have to work 8 to 10 hours. There is a lot of pressure to meet production targets. The foremen, supervisors and manager swear at the helpers amongst the casual workers, the general manager also slaps them. In order to meet production targets the general manager also slapped a permanent worker. There are 60 to 70 power presses from 20 to 1,000 tons. Most of the presses are old and there are no safety devices. Most of the presses are run by helpers. On the presses, too, workers have to stay longer after 12 hours shifts, up to 21 hours. The daily pressure, the little space etc. results in many accidents. Parts break, people accidentally press the pedal while hastily taking out finished parts, pressure from the supervisor… one-two-three fingers, thumbs, fingers of both hands get cut off. Each months two-three-four workers cut their hands. If this happens the company does not bring the worker to the (official) ESI hospital, they don’t fill in the accident form, they send the worker to a private hospital in Sector 16. The tools of the power presses weigh 50 to 80 kilos and have to be removed by hand. Hands and feet get squashed. The supervisor swears at the injured worker that the injuries are his/her own fault of having been careless. The injured workers do not receive wages during time of treatment and when not able to work. The company does not pay compensation for lost fingers. When workers want to go to the ESI hospital after first treatment in the private hospital, they demand the accident report, but neither doctor nor company provide this. They also don’t provide the necessary documents for the ESI smart card. On 28th of April a worker operating a power press cut off three of his fingers. He was sent to a private hospital in sector 16 for treatment… We work 100 to 225 hours of overtime each month, paid single rate. From overtime each month 400 to 500 Rs get embezzled. Last year’s DA (inflation compensation) of July was not paid before October and this year’s January DA has not been added to wages yet (March wages). Casual workers received pay-slips in January 2011, but the overtime was not mentioned, no ESI number or PF number given. Casual workers are dismissed after seven months of employment and are rehired after two months of break. There are workers who work continuously in the factory, but their contributions for PF and ESI are not deducted for these two months (meaning that they are officially not employed). There are 100 permanent workers and 1,000 to 1,200 casual workers employed. We produce parts for two and three wheelers. There are 300 to 350 operators amongst the casual workers, the rest are hired and paid as helpers. The operators get 15 Rs per 12 hours shift for tea, 30 Rs for a 17 hours shift and 50 Rs for a 21 hours shift. The helpers get nothing. In Badarpur there is another Flash Electronics factory manufacturing auto meters and they are about to open another plant in Faridabad DLF Industrial Area.

Omega Auto Worker
(Alley no.2, Krishna Colony, Sector 25, Faridabad)
The female workers in this workshop are paid 3,500 Rs, the male workers 3,800 Rs. There is a drill, a welding machine, a lathe, a power press and three CNC machines. Women workers are also employed at the CNC machines. No ESI, no PF for the workers. We work from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. We manufacture small metal pipes which are used as engine parts for oil and air supply. Our pipes go to Imperial Auto, a different supplier, and from there to Honda, Hero Honda and Maruti Suzuki.

Munjal Showa Worker
(Plot 26, Sector III, IMT Manesar)
There are three 8-hours shifts. After Holi there was a lack of workers. So since 21st of March workers are forced to work double-shifts of 16 hours. They don’t let workers leave, they use physical force to keep people from leaving. We manufacture shockers for Honda, Hero Honda and Yamaha. If you have to stand upright for 16 hours and handle these shockers, this causes great pain. They don’t pay extra for food. The overtime payment is 38 to 43 Rs per hour.

Track Auto Components
(Plot 21, Sector VII, IMT Manesar)
Some power presses are equipped with security devices for health and safety, but some operate with double stroke. Due to the heavy vibrations from the presses a metal part fell from some storage space and hit a worker. The injured worker had to wait, because the van which is usually meant for ambulance transport was used to transport work materials. They had to mend his foot with 12 stitches. On 18th of April a worker cut off four of his finger at a power press. If you have to start working at 7 am you have trouble to prepare your meals. In January they said that they will open a canteen on the third floor, but now they installed a sheet rolling machine there instead. The company hired 30 to 40 staff directly, 600 workers are hired through five different contractors. We manufacture parts for Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Hero Honda. The drinking water is not alright. The filter machines has been faulty for the last 8 months. The workers of the upper floors have to come to the ground floor if they need a toilet – there are always queues. On the upper floor under the roof there are 18 power presses, but not a single fan. On 26th of April Maruti Suzuki sent an audit. Those workers who operate the 160 ton power presses for Maruti parts were given ear plugs and helmets – after the Maruti reps had left the Track Auto managers took the helmets away again. The workers in the press shop often demanded ear protection, but the company does not give out any.

Honda Motorcycles and Scooter (HMSI) Worker
(Plot 1 and 2, Sector 3, IMT)
After increasing production in December last year the company again increased it in April 2011. In the motorcycle plant we had to produce 1,025 instead of 1,000 vehicles, now fixed production target is 1,100. The company swalloed the time to drink water, go to the toilet and get a breath in. Most of the production increase is enforced onto the backs of the 8,000 workers hired through contractors (this includes drivers, canteen staff), and they don’t see a paisa more for it. The illusion that some of the workers hired through contractor employed in the Manesar plant would be hired as permanents in the new Bhivari plant has imploded. The company policy of: “Use the workers and then throw them away” has proven itself clearly. The annual production target of 1.8 million bikes in 2010 has been brought to 2 million bikes in 2011. Neither the union nor the management has an open ear for the problems of the workers hired through contractor. The assembly lines are stopped by workers, sometimes here, sometimes there. On the 16th of April one production line came to a stand-still several times, instead of 1,100 bikes only 950 were produced.

SKH Worker
(Sector 8, IMT)
This factory is situated on the Maruti Suzuki premises, near the fourth gate. Around 300 workers work on two 12-hours shifts. On Sundays, too, 12-hours shifts. The company pays the overtime at single rate. They have Vishal Power Presses (800 ton model) set up in a production line, with separate die casting tools. If the first press does 1,700 piece, then the last one has to do the same amount. The machines are not supposed to stop. The ‘line must be clear’ all the time [no pieces piled up anywhere, the line moving]. There is no time for getting and drinking water or go for a piss. It’s heavy work, you have to lift the 15 kilo sheet metal by hand. If one piece gets rejected [by quality check], hell breaks lose.