Gurgaon workers newsletter issue 36, with news, reports and analysis from India's special exploitation zone.
Gurgaon Workers News #36 - March 2011
Tunis, Algiers, Cairo, …Shahajanpur? – The Social Significance of an ‘Accident’
There is no lack of triggers, there is no lack of social explosives…
Rising ‘graduate unemployment’, massive hike in food prices, increasing signs of capitalist decadence in the form of rapidly aggravating ‘inequality’ and its symbolisation in a rich new oligarchy with strong links to the political class (corruption)… if these were the basic ingredients of the popular uprisings in North Africa, we find the same social explosives here in India. Both regions also share similar rhythms of debt crisis, (IMF) credit regimes and popular discontent: 1974 (“Bihar Movement”), 1981 (IMF loan and re-structuring), 1991 (external debt crisis). The rhythm becomes global. Desperation and anger of the youth spreads from the ‘illegal’ vegetable markets of Tunis, to the Parisian banlieus, to the textile industrial suburbs of Mahalla… across this world of widening contradictions between what is and what could be. The Shahajanpur accident – see below – could have been a sad trigger, there are hundreds of triggers every day. If we had to name the two main social aspects distinguishing the current social situation in India from the conditions in Egypt or Tunisia we would come up with:
a) a still more dynamic tri-angle relation between temporary village fall-back, rural industry / seasonal labour and scattered attracting/ejecting industrial boom regions; the rural-urban-rural migration, the back-and-forth between short stays in the village and another round of job hunts still expresses and diffuses the vast amount of social unrest – see report of village visit in this issue of GurgaonWorkersNews; the fact that labour migration from North Africa to the Euro-zone has become more difficult, crisis and all, has contributed to the explosion;
b) a still more dynamic economic and political middlemen culture; this culture reaches from modern ‘democratic’ and legal mediation of industrial disputes, to frequent usage of paid thugs to quell workers’ discontent; the local state in form of the modern ‘village council’ combined with ‘old’ forms of caste dominance and micro-credit liquidity; the state in form of middlemen in each slum and ‘state run ration shops’ (subsidised food shops); a vast ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘empowering’ NGO sector and liberal ‘civil society’ sphere in combination with mass bases of paramilitary forces and ‘fake encounter culture’; a multi-layered ‘contract system’ which enables many permanent factory workers to become ‘small contractors’ themselves, or turns ‘local peasantry’ into landlords for migrant workers; a state-defined ‘reservation/promotion’ for middle(wo)men of all castes and gender; in summary: the ‘individualisation’ of misery here in India, e.g. in the form of mass suicides of small peasants, has little to do with the ‘cultural heritage of fate-obeying Hinduism’, but a lot to do with the brutal internalisation of ‘liberal democratic individual freedom’ in an ‘upwardly/downwardly mobile’ modern market society, which leaves us isolated when facing the systemic crisis;
In the following we summarise the news on the Shahajanpur ‘accident’:
“On 1st of February 2011 – while riots rocked the Kasbah and downtown Cairo – around 150,000 young people arrived in Bareilly, near Shahajanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India. They came in order to apply for 416 vacancies at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Facing the enormous mass of applicants the local administration called off the hiring procedure. The angry youth started smashing the place up, burnt cars, government and media buildings. Around six state-owned buses and several other vehicles were set on fire and several shops were damaged and looted by them. The agitating youths also pelted stones at AIR and Doordarshan offices (public media). They then tried to return home. “The Railway staff were taken by surprise when they found the station swarmed by thousands of young men, who looked very agitated,” a senior Railway official said on condition of anonymity from Bareilly. “We promptly got the Railway police into action, but the station was jam-packed with these young men who went about damaging Railway property while raising anti-ITBP slogans,” he said. “No sooner did the Himgiri Express roll into the station than a large group climbed over it, clutching on to all sides of the train, including the rooftop and the engine. There was no way the youth could have been prevented from crowding the train and no one realised that barely 60 km ahead they would fatally encounter a low overbridge,” the official added. Many young people died when the train hit the bridge. The accident triggered violent protests as angry youths torched the train and attacked the station.”
Facing the Uprising, Facing the Daily Accident – What to be done?
The insurrection is permanent – from Argentina to Egypt we see that it does not take much to chase away the police or management, to take the things we need (homes, food, items), to break out of prisons or to fraternise with soldiers, in short, it does not take much to overthrow a government, but what comes next? The uprising asks the question whether we will we continue to live and work in a way, which leaves us having to buy the products we produce, which separates us from bread and roses by price; in a way, which puts a price tag on our time and energy itself and forces us to sell it on the market, competing with others; in a way, which leaves it to the development of prices whether a ‘we are pushed into a job’ or whether a factory is closed; in a way, which – in the end – will force us to call for the ‘good politicians’ to do something about the ‘bad market’: the very same politicians we have just chased away because they are useless – confronted with the global crisis of a system…
It is ironic to see how the regime – be it in Greece, the UK or in Egypt – uses the ‘democratic appeal’ in order to contain social discontent. While in Egypt the uprising is publicly reduced to ‘strife for democracy’ and rulers and twitter rulers to be call for a ‘return to work and return to the ballot box’… in Greece, in the UK or in other ‘democratic’ states the anti-government protests against the austerity measures are told that they will have to let the ‘elected parliament do their work, in the spirit of the democratic process’ – hinting at the fact that otherwise there are other forms of rule waiting in the back rooms…
The uprising, the strike waves have to become the process of discovery of our social cooperation; a cooperation, which so far has been organised as the fragmented ensemble of the ‘capitalist social production process’. The discovery will be both, appropriation for immediate needs and material transformation of production itself. Each struggle will meet the limits of imposed capitalist division of labour: in form of company walls, sector boundaries, ‘institutionalised’ knowledge separation, ‘political’ division between rural and urban. Each struggle will cause its unexpected chain-reactions, will cause shortages and ruptures of social life beyond their ‘capitalist’ boundaries, as proof of its previously hidden social dimension. The struggles will raise the question of direct, instead of mediated cooperation in order to overcome shortages and to make plans for the new day – the economic and political social separation dissolves. The extension of struggles along these lines of social cooperation might take violent forms, but given the historic degree of socialisation of labour (intertwinement of ‘science’ and industry, of ‘administration’ and production’, of agriculture and the industrial complex/market), ‘separate power’ has turned into a mere obstacle which has to be pushed aside; it has lost its productive function and is not worth fighting over.
The managers of capital can only succeed in ‘legitimating their power’ as long as they are able to make ‘capital’ appear as the pre-condition of social cooperation, as long as they are able to separate the social experience of over-productive labour from the poverty of un-/underemployment. Obviously this separation does not take a pure form of working-class on one side, proletariat on the other. This separation appears in its various shades of development and underdevelopment, of high-tech and labour intensity, of regional deprivation and boom centres, of respectable workmen and lumpen, of hire and fire. This separation will appear in all imaginable ethnic colours. With the disappearance of the old buffer-classes, with the social death of peasantry and artisans in the global South, the demise of the self-employed educated middle-classes and petty bourgeoisie, capital has to face up to it’s living self. While being in it’s essence the violent coordinator of social labour – globalisation, international supply-chains etc. – in this crisis more than ever capital has to hide and segment the global character of social cooperation from the emerging global working class. In the attempt to segment and re-combinate capital becomes a burden to social cooperation. It gets in its own way.
Therefore the challenge for working-class communists is to discover and point-out this ‘general global character’ of labour in the concrete local disputes, to discover and point-out the ‘political separation’ of development and underdevelopment, the potential of abundance in the face of stark misery. That means to argue not from the abstract level of ‘class consciousness’, but from the perspective of the collective worker. The challenge for ‘communists’ is not separate from what workers’ themselves are forced to do: As we can see in front of our eyes, most current workers’ struggles have to find answers to their own global dimensions – not to proclaim their communist demands – but to simply avoid being defeated.
Falling Back or Falling Apart? – Impressions from a Visit in Babripur Village
Impressions from a visit to Babripur Village, connected to the Delhi industrial belt by two generations of labour migration.
There are lot of ‘village case studies’ being published, contributing to the debate on ‘class stratification’ and general changes of the old village structure. There is less debate – and less empirical work – on the question of how urban wage work impacts on village conditions and vice versa. Based on his research in Gujarat, Breman states that ‘the landless lack resources in order to make the jump into urban wage work’, but this might not be the general case.
A classical position states that the ‘landed’ worker, who comes to the urban industrial landscape and shares the same experience of work with his landless co-worker, will mentally and materially relate to the wage as ‘future capital’. He acts in the hope that the urban wages will help him to secure his social position back in the village – as a peasant or petty bourgeois engaging in trade or other business. He will be less inclined to ‘act as a worker’, he has more to lose, he doesn’t depend solely on ‘better wages’ in order to survive.
This position – although sound from a materialistic point of view – seems to lack the ‘historic dynamic element’. It reduces the experience of factory work to the relation of the worker towards his monthly payment and it does not take into account the changes within the village and the changing aspirations of ‘peasant-workers’ after the urban experience.
With similar questions we went to visit our friends village in the North-East of Uttar Pradesh, Babripur near Kadipur, about 80km from Sultanpur. The following is a rather impressionistic account between ganna harvest and buffalo grazing, less of an empirical study.
There are about 5,000 people living in Babripur. Around half of the village population own around 0.5 hectar, there are few ‘landless’. Electricity and tube wells arrived around 20 years ago, there are only three to four tractors in Babripur. Most peasants engage in multiple agricultural production: sugar cane, pulses, wheat, potatoes, mustard, vegetables. Although Delhi is quite far away – around 800 km or 14 hours by train – labour migration from Babripur area towards Delhi and Faridabad started in the mid-1960s and has been passed on to the next generation. We met two old workers who both left Babripur area in order to work in Faridabad factories in the 1970s. One worker belongs to the Brahmin caste, the other to the ‘Scheduled Caste’ (Dalit).
“My grandfather – besides working as an artisan – had an additional income as an exorcist. This had been a family tradition for some 150 years or so. As a kid I would gather people around him, sometimes up to 100, and he would perform his miracles. On his deathbed he told us that we should not continue this family tradition, that it was useless work. My father had too little land to work on, he got engaged in leather contract work. I myself managed to get a government job, I would go around and collect certain kinds of taxes. I then worked as a bus conductor. There were problems – a lot of wheeling and dealing connected to this types of jobs – so I decided to go to Faridabad to work. Initially I was rather na•ve, I thought that I would not have to stick to one job too long, because there seemed to be many jobs on offer. I had a dozen different jobs during the first years. Then Emergency came, they erased the slum settlement where I used to live. We built a new place a bit further out. At that time it was not too expensive to ‘but some unauthorised land’ and to build a small house. I got a permanent job and stuck with it till the company closed in the 1990s. I am retired now, I still live in Faridabad, we have two small houses here. My children had a good education, they now all work, one is an engineer, the other runs a shop”.
“My grandfather performed religious ceremonies, he was also the head of the village council of Babripur after 1947. He implemented the land reform, some land was redistributed. Before the land reform hardly any of the Scheduled Caste members had land, after the reform around 60 per cent had at least some land. My father did farming. He built the house we now live in. He had three sons, there were about eight hectares of land. I decided to leave the village and work in Faridabad. I started working in a plastic factory. In the late 1980s I returned. My daughter got married, both sons live in Delhi. What is our situation now? We have four buffalos to take care of, they give us milk and we can sell some. We have four hectares of land, some potato, some rice, some sugar cane and so on. Most of our food comes from the fields – what we don’t consume, we sell. The money income from agriculture is unstable. Take the example of a 0.5 hectare potato field. A good harvest will provide you with 10 to 12 tons of potatoes. You might manage two harvests a year, depending on weather. Production costs are around 20,000 Rs, this includes the labour we hire, the seeds, the fertilizer, the petrol for the tube well and so on. You can imagine the market rate for a kilo of potato? It will hardly be more than 3 Rs. So this is our basic situation: there is little surplus, my wife and me still work either around the house or taking care of the machinery and organise the field-work. The actual field-work is done by wage workers. We pay them 100 Rs a day. We used to pay them 50 Rs, but when NREGA came in, they demanded 100 Rs and we paid them. They obviously live in worse conditions here in the village, in smaller huts – and they depend on wage work, having little land themselves. Our situation as small peasants depends on previous wage work: some of the machinery has been bought be wage savings. If prices change – either of produce or of wages of the rural labourers – we might be forced to either reduce hired labour or to compensate the loss by our own wage work. Our condition is the suicidal condition of millions”.
The routes of labour migration have been inherited by the next generation. By chance, during a stroll through the fields, we met several ‘(ex-)workers’ from Gurgaon and Delhi.
“I am from the same (Brahmin) family. I worked seven-eight years as a metal polisher in an export company based in Okhla. I came back to the village two years ago, I think I came back for good. I am 28 years old now and I run this mobile phone shop.”
“I belong to the same caste. I left Babripur in 2000 and started working as a supervisor at FCI. I came back last year, I bought some extra-land. I don’t think I will go back to Gurgaon.”
“I normally work at Orient Craft in Gurgaon. I am here for a short visit, my family has little land in Babripur, I help with the harvest, although it does not amount to much. I also do some extra-work repairing machines for other people in the village.”
“I worked as a temporary worker at Honda HMSI in Manesar. The company interrupted my employment two months ago – they enforced a break of one, two months in order not to have to grant permanent employment. I will stay here for another month or so and then go back to my uncle in Manesar. I might try to get a job at Honda again.”
While the old ‘peasant’ comrade says that the ‘progressive’ industrial workers’ consciousness is wiped out as soon as workers get back to their village and re-enter the old village hierarchies, we think it is quite astonishing how direct the exchange between the village and the industrial zones have become. We can also see that ‘the land question’ clutches the new generation of workers from two sides and defines the more precarious status compared to their fore-mothers-and-fathers: it is not only more difficult to survive as a small scale peasant, it is also near to impossible to buy land in Delhi-Faridabad-Gurgaon area in order to ‘settle down’ in a family home. Wages are relatively lower and land prices have gone up.
A week after the return from Babripur we distributed Faridabad Majdoor Samachar in Manesar and asked workers whether they have heard of the 24 hours wildcat strike at Honda HMSI in December. Most workers haven’t heard of the incident, even those workers who work in the main supplier just across the road from Honda factory. It seems that proletarian organisation will not only have to be based – and can be based! – on the urban and rural exchange, but that it sometimes will have to help crossing the street…
The Medical Industrial Complex: Short Notes on Medical Tourism and Report by Medanta Hospital Worker, Gurgaon
We incarnate the global division of labour: private clinics in India cooperate with NHS hospitals in the UK in order to reduce ‘waiting-lists’, labs in Gurgaon process material for the medical complex in the US, patients fly in for final operation in Gurgaon due to lower local costs, organ trade is the scandalised warehouse of this boom sector. While the public focuses on price comparison for services of expert doctors, they often neglect the low-wage service regime, which provides the material foundation for the hospital complex. A general overview and two reports by workers from the Medical Industrial Complex.
Medical tourism and global outsourcing of medical services (laboratory services, telemedicine etc.) is one of the few remaining boom sectors. On the bases of new technologies, oversupply of skilled labour in the global south, relatively cheap transport costs and dismantling of ‘public health services’ in the global north, we can see the establishment of a ‘global body’, which is worked upon in an international division of labour. According to mainstream statistics medical tourism to India has witnessed an annual growth rate of 20 to 30 per cent during the last years. Treatment costs for, e.g. hip replacement or heart surgery are said to be 20 per cent of the costs compared to US standards. The medical tourism business in Asia has grown to 4 billion US Dollar. Not only patients from ‘the north’ but upper-class patience from the Gulf countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. come to India for treatment. Gurgaon has become one of the centres for medical tourism in India. Direct international flights to the nearby Delhi airport, special medical visa service, a sophisticated local service sector are the necessary infrastructural back-bone for an assembly-line type of industry: in Apollo hospital in Delhi doctors performed 4,200 heart operations in 2010. Critical voices point out that a lot of the ‘experts’ have been trained by public sector institutions, but now provide treatment for upper-class patients in private hospitals. While the working class – particularly in rural areas – face a lack of medical support, the material and labour forces are concentrated in the profitable ‘upper-class’ medical complex.
One of the centres of local medical industrial complex is Medanta Medicity, according to company website “one of India’s largest multi-super specialty institutes located in Gurgaon”. Spread across 43 acres, the institute includes a research center, medical and nursing school, 45 operation theatres catering to over 20 specialties. We met a housekeeping worker employed at The Medicity.
Medanta / The Medicity Worker
(Jharsa Road, Rajiv Chowk)
The building has four underground floors, it is 16 floors high and has 1250 beds. The housekeeping workers, general duty assistants, security guards, drivers, barbers, washing workers are all hired through contractor. They say that housekeeping is done in three 8 hours shifts, but most housekeeping workers work 16 hours shifts, they receive 4,348 Rs per month, their overtime is paid at single rate. The general duty assistants and the security guards work two 12 hours shifts. There are about 500 general duty assistants – they are paid 7,500 Rs for 30 days of 12 hours shifts. There are two canteens – the workers hired through contractor have a hard time there. For 20 Rs you get hardly enough to fill your stomach. Even if you work 12 hours shifts you won’t get a free cup of tea. The doctors, technicians and nurses are hired directly by the company. The nurses are paid 14,000 Rs, the technicians 22,000 Rs and the junior doctors get 50,000 Rs. They work on two 6-hours day shifts and one 12 hour night-shift. One nurse cares for three patients during a shift. The patient fees for a single-room is 5,000 Rs a day, for a double-room 3,000 Rs.
Down the supply-chain works a friend, manufacturing medical equipment. We regularly report about conditions and struggles of his co-workers at Eastern Medikit, casual workers occupied their factory some years ago in order to enforce payment of outstanding wages.
Harsurya Healthcare Worker
(110 Udyog Vihar Phase 4)
Around 900 workers manufacture IV syringes. We are paid single rate for overtime. Due to the high production targets there are a lot of accidents with the syringes. We are supposed to quickly tape the wounds and go back to the machines. You can only go to the toilet twice during a 12 hours shift and you have to fill in a register for that. If you need longer than 5 minutes you have to face being told off. In the canteen there is not enough space for sitting down during meal time. It is near to impossible to finish your meal during the 30 minutes, and you are told off if you are 2 minutes late. They have installed cameras everywhere. Wages are paid late. In order to overcome these problems a union has been formed three month ago. Since then management swears less at workers, but the company casual workers have been degraded and are now hired through contractor. Before you sign your new work-contract with the contractor he forces you to sign your notice letter – for the future. The union president has spoken out against this, so on 11th of December he was suspended. Since then production has come down and the company started to kick out workers bit by bit. The company has also put up two guys with rifles at the factory gate.
Expanded Capacities – Squeezed Profits: Reports from Local Automobile Workers
In January 2011 automobile manufacturers in India announced both, record sales and plans to expand future capacities on one hand, and a drop in net profits on the other. We briefly summarise a report on Maruti Suzuki and add two reports by workers employed in the supply-chain.
Maruti Suzuki to raise output
ET, Jan 30 2011
The carmaker plans to raise annual manufacturing output to 1.4 million units starting April 2011. Maruti has been selling whatever it produces this financial year with the car market growing at 27 per cent due to strong economic fundamentals. Between April and December, Maruti Suzuki produced 924,103 units and sold 927,665 units, a growth of 31 per cent, according to Siam (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers). Meanwhile, the company reported an 18 per cent decline in net profit for the third quarter ended December 2010.
Shivam Autotech Worker
(58 Kilometer Stone, NH8, Binoula)
In 2007 workers at Shivam Autotech plant in Gurgaon occupied their factory and demanded ‘same conditions’ like their colleagues in nearby Binola. Following report is from Binola, four years later.
We manufacture parts for Hero Honda, Mico and Bosch. There are 750 workers hired through three different contractors, they work on 12 hours shifts. Their overtime is paid single rate. When the factory opened in September 1999 the majority of workers were permanent, their wages were very low, they were forced to work overtime, they were sworn at and insulted… in 2005 just when the Honda struggle took place management started religious offerings in the factory and increased wages by 900 Rs… the discontent remained and the permanent workers gave 1,100 Rs each in order to form an AITUC union. Workers went on five days strike after a colleague was mistreated, then AITUC and management came to a three-years agreement. Increase of monthly wages by 2,700 Rs in three instalments, an end to enforced overtime, no further verbal abuses, introduction of a group incentive scheme… and increased in the numbers of workers hired through contractor. Initially the permanent workers were satisfied, but this did not last for too long… Now half of the work-force is hired through contractor, their wages are between 4,348 and 5,600 Rs, whereas the permanents get 10,000 to 19,000 Rs. The permanent workers are afraid. Every year a union election, internal faction fights, the seven union leaders don’t work, or only pretend to do so. Every month the permanent workers give 20 Rs union dues. The management does not agree to let the union install an office inside the company and gives the union 2,000 Rs per month instead. The incentive scheme is a lollipop.
(396 Udyog Vihar Phase 3, Gurgaon)
Around 500 workers manufacture light-systems for vehicles on two 12-hours shifts. The day-shift workers are made to work 16 hours every second day, they then receive 30 Rs extra for food. On Sundays we also work 12 hours. We work 150 to 200 hours over-time per month.
Track Auto Components Worker
(Plot 21, Sector 7, IMT Manesar)
Demand for production is very high, therefore safety devices are removed from the power-presses – both of old machines and newly installed machines. There are a lot of accidents because of that. Fingers are cut off.
V.G. Precision Components Worker
(Plot 327, Sector 24, Faridabad)
We manufacture parts for Maruti Suzuki. Even the company casual workers don’t get ESI or PF. Due to a lot of accidents the workers hired through contractors get ESI, but no PF. Out of 70 workers 55 workers get around 3,000 to 4,000 Rs per month. We work 12 hours shifts, but overtime is paid single rate. Even after seven, eight years of employment your are still a casual worker. Due to iron casting and finishing work there is a lot of pollution in the plant.
G.L. Auto Worker
(14-b, Industrial Area, Faridabad)
The 25 female workers get 2,700 to 3,000 Rs per month, the 500 to 600 male workers get 3,000 to 3,500 Rs. No ESI, no PF. There are few permanent workers, and six or seven of them have become company-internal contractors. There are three external contractor4s. We work two 12.5 hours shifts, sometimes they force us to work longer. Overtime is paid single rate, Sundays they pay double. Wage are paid late. There are only three toilets for the male workers.
Marshal Group Worker
(Plot 390, Sector 24, Faridabad)
There is not even one permanent worker employed. There are 11 CNC operators, 20 dispatch and packing workers and 120 helpers hired through contractor. We manufacture parts for Escorts, Honda, TVS and for export. The helpers get 3,200 to 3,500 Rs. The dispatch guys get 3,500 Rs and the operators get 4,000 to 4,500 Rs. A lot of pollution, and the bosses swear a lot.
Nova Pack / Hella Worker
(Northern Complex, Mathura Road, Faridabad)
The helpers get 3,500 Rs, the operators get 4,300 to 4,400 Rs. We work on two 12 hours shifts. On Sundays we work 9 hours. We work for Hella Light.
Lakhani Rubber Worker
(Plot 262, Sector 24, Faridabad)
We produce hose pipes etc. for Maruti Suzuki. It’s rubber work, it’s dirty. When the Maruti representatives come, workers are given gloves and masks. Maruti stops production after 24th of December for the annual revision. Therefore there is little production, but normally we work on two 12 hours shifts. Since two months the company hires workers through contractors. These workers get single rate overtime payment, while the older workers get one and a half.
(Plot 46, Sector 6, Faridabad)
There are 500 workers hired through three different contractors, manufacturing metal parts for the automobile industry. Overtime is paid at single rate. If they force you to work longer than 12 hours they give only 20 Rs extra for food. Wages are 2,700 – 3,200 – 3,700 Rs. The contractors who pay 3,700 Rs also cut money for ESI and PF from wages. Wages get embezzled, one or two day-wages from the overtime money. Production targets are very high. They won’t grant you a 5 min tea break during the 12 hours shift. Drinking water is bad, toilets are dirty.
Step Across the Border: Struggles of Lakhani Workers in Uttaranchal and International Electro Devices Ltd. Workers in NOIDA
We translated workers’ reports from two Marxist-Leninist journals Nagrik and Mazdoor Bigul, both reports dealing with current ‘company struggles’ in electronics and footwear manufacturing.
International Electro Devices Ltd. Worker (NOIDA): The Mutilating Factory and the Betrayal by CITU
From: Mazdoor Bigul, December 2010
The companies Samtel and International Electro Devices (IED) Ltd. – owned by Sudheer Kora and family – are situated in the Lalkuan area of NOIDA. Samtel manufactures computer monitors and other devices, IED Ltd. supplies Samtel with parts. In the name of these two companies, a large area of both government and non-government land has been obtained by the owners – after having delivered little favour to the people in the public administration. Samtel and IED sell parts, monitors and other electronic devices to leading international companies, but at the assembly lines the workers exist in situation of dreadful darkness. In the last eight years near about 300 workers have lost fingers to the machines in the IED Ltd. factory. Management removed obligatory safety sensors from machines in order to increase work speed. The production target given by management so high, that they cannot be achieved if safety measures are applied. They told workers that if they don’t meet the target, they can look for a different job. This forced machine operators to disregard safety measures themselves. During the last eight years hands of 300 workers have been mutilated in result – despite the fact that there is a union operating in the factory. A CITU union has been registered two years ago. CITU did not organise any resistance, so management is able to degrade mutilated workers from machine men to helpers or to sack them from the job completely. CITU did not even demand compensation for these workers. The opposite is true, the CITU leadership emphasises the fact that management – in some cases -would continue employing mutilated skilled workers as helpers, and portrays it as an act of charity. Around 1,200 workers have to work under these conditions at IED Ltd.. Some workers had started to organise themselves in meetings and raised various demands. During this struggle they established contact with CITU. CITU negotiated with management and ‘achieved’ to enforce some minor demands, whereas the important demands were ignored: same wage and bonus as workers at Samtel, reduction of production targets to speed which allows application of sensors, compensation for injured workers. These demands do not show up in the demand notice issued by CITU. Despite this workers started their struggle and even occupied the factory. In response management raised false accusation against six workers and spread the rumours that a legal case had been filed against them – which was not true. CITU used these rumours in order to convince workers to stop the strike and end the occupation. CITU said that due to the factory having five different gates, an occupation was not sustainable and that workers should stop the struggle until the ‘cases’ against the six workers would be withdrawn, and only then to start the fight again. Apart from those six workers, additional 40 workers had been kicked out by management during the agitation. Workers should regroup around a new demand notice which includes all important demands and continue the struggle and occupation.
Ongoing unrest in Sidkul
From : Nagrik, 1 – 15 January 2011
Contact: [email protected]
The Markson factory is situated on Plot 11 and 11e in Sector 6a in Haridvar Sidkul. On 21st of December 2010 around 200 workers – at Markson around 100 to 120 female workers are employed – went on strike and started slogans against the contractor and management at the factory gate. The main reason for the strike was the fact that November wages had not been paid. The Deepvali bonus had also not been paid and the PF contribution of the company was not correct.
There are three contractors operating in the factory. Only 15 to 20 workers are hired directly by the company. Company management told workers to complain to their respective contractors about wage delays, but workers put pressure on both, contractor and company management: “We work for the company and it is the supervisor and company management who drive us to work harder – so who should we ask to pay us if not those who constantly demand more work”?
The factory manufactures electronic devices: TV’s, DVD and LCD players. This type of manufacturing has to be seen as ‘permanent production’, in contrast to seasonal work, and according to law the company would not be allowed to use contractors for employment in the production department. On 23rd of December the strike was lifted and workers resumed work. Wages were not paid to all of them, but small groups of two to four workers received their wages. Management tries to break the unity of workers by, for example, threatening workers with withdrawing the company bus service.
Wages are usually paid delayed at Lakhani Vardan Group. Apart from that the company does not provide appropriate means – masks, gloves, clothes – which would protect workers from the chemicals used at work. Like other companies Lakhani gave workers a bonus and sweets for Dipvali, but only 1,000 Rs bonus and 100 Rs worth of sweets, and the rest of the wages were paid delayed. When November 2010 wages were not paid by 13th of December, workers stopped working after the tea break at 3 pm and started asking the supervisor about the outstanding payment. The supervisor first tried to explain and re-conciliate , but when workers did not accept this he called the plant manager. As soon as the manager arrived he started shouting at workers: “Do your work or go and leave the factory”! During previous occasions only a few workers resisted the threatening behaviour and refused to go back to work, this time about half of the work-force refused to go back. The manager started to call workers singly, he threatened them and he expressed his sadness about the pitiful state of the company:
“We have to work, so do your work, otherwise the situation will remain like this.” “We did not call you to come to work here, you did come on your own accords”. “In other factories the contractors take their share of your wages, here you get your full wages, only a little late” “We can find a lot of other workers and you can find a different job, so there is no shortage neither on our nor on your side”.
The following day the manager continued to preach to the workers:
“If any of you has a problem he can meet us alone and we will find a solution for his problems. If you gather like this in a crowd and stop working, then you will find no worse person than me. If anyone dares to do so, we will have him beaten up, kick him out and make sure that he won’t find any other job in Sidkul. Go back to work, we don’t appreciate these agitations”. The following day, on 15th of December at 4:30 pm wages were paid, but the outstanding overtime money was not paid.
The Re-Making of a Local Ruling Class
During the last months several ‘land scandals’ have entered the public stage in Gurgaon. The state industrial development agency HSIIDC is accused of having sold land dedicated for ‘public purposes’ to private firms, which then used the land for commercial purposes. The immediate reaction is to complain about the obvious rampant ‘corruption’ connected to the land deals. A deeper analysis would be necessary which would have to locate the ‘corruption’ within the formation and re-formation process of a ‘local ruling class’.
Obviously there are the local landed classes involved, who are supposed to sell their land to the state or private companies. The price of land determines whether they will make the jump from peasantry into ‘petty bourgeoisie’ and how high or low this jump will be. Given the vast amount of migrant labour exploited in Gurgaon industries, the local landed class is a necessary social back-bone of the ruling class. They have to be compensated for their loss of land and obtain middlemen functions either as labour contractors, landlords, local politicians, union leaders or other trading positions.
The price of land is of immediate importance for commercial traders of land and private developers like DLF. These companies have been not only important developers of (industrial) infrastructure, they also have been one main entry door of global financial streams into Gurgaon, which then re-diverted from real estate into other sectors. The multinational industrial managing class has similar interest in ‘cheap land’, but depends on ‘good relations’ with the local landed classes to a higher degree than the ‘real estate capital’. Recently the ‘industrial class’ started to complain about a ‘burocratisation’ within the Haryana state apparatus, in the form of increasing power monopoly of the HSIIDC and cases of double taxation.
‘Corruption’ in this sense has a ‘productive function’ – in capitalist terms – beyond the individual forms of embezzlement. It functions as ‘grease’ within the re-shifting of different sections of ruling class and re-distribution process of different incomes in form of land revenue, rent, profit, taxes. The larger picture of extended capitalist cycle shows that despite the initial importance of land prices the main ‘grease’ stems from the exploitation of the industrial working class. The following news snippets can give an idea of the various layers and interests – the true common interest ‘as representatives of capital’ will be revealed during times of social turmoil alone.
Land Scandal – 5th of February 2011
DLF plans to appeal in the Supreme Court against a Punjab & Haryana High Court order to demolish properties on a land owned by the country’s largest realtor in Gurgaon. In September 1995, the state government had sold 30 acres to East India Hotels that runs Oberoi group of hotels to develop a hospital and hotel management institute for the public. The hospitality firm sold the land to DLF. DLF converted the land into special economic zone and took necessary approvals from the central and state governments. The High Court has termed the transfer of land by the Haryana government to the private firms as illegal: “Facts alone are enough to establish the nexus of M/s DLF Ltd with the government to grab the property in question… subsequent facts of granting necessary approvals for setting up a SEZ etc. was an attempt to cover the malafide action of Haryana government.”
Land Grab in Rewari and Manesar
Finance Minister, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, comes out strongly in defence of Rewari’s aggrieved farmers facing a threat of land acquisition. The farmers, in their memorandum, have mentioned that the HSIIDC has issued a notification for acquiring 500 acres in Dharuhera. He is learnt to have added that the industrial town at Bawal and Manesar are a stone’s throw from Dharuhera where plots can be given to boost industrialisation. “Therefore, I feel that acquiring more land around Dharuhera for the industrialists is of no point as, in this way, no agricultural land would be left for farmers and their livelihood. As of now, there is a saturation point of urbanisation and industrialisation in Bawal and Rewari blocks,” the letter says. HSIIDCs expansions plans are the talk of the town this year, on the list are several villages near the Manesar IMT. Development plans might soon be rolling out for the 1800 acres of land earmarked for large scale industrial and commercial setup by the government. The state is also supposed to make sure that the villagers, who own this chunk of land, get handsome compensation, at the going price of more than Rs 50 lakh per acre.
Farmers Protests Concerning Land Grab – 15th of February 2011
The Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana is under attack from various quarters over its land acquisition policy, converting agricultural land into industrial or commercial property. The Opposition is trying to make the most of the situation. The INLD has already announced a state-wide agitation against the ‘pro-builder and anti-farmer’ stance of the government. Farmers of Pachgaon, Kasan, Mokalwas, Baaslambi, Kharkhari, Sehrawan, Kukrola, Pukharpur and Fazilwaas villages have already held two mahaypanchyats and blocked the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8 in protest against the government’s move to acquire their land. The protesters soon blocked the highway, refused to talk to the SDM and demanded that either the Divisional Commissioner or the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) be sent to accept their memorandum. Meanwhile, an anti-riot squad of the police force was deployed at the blockade site as a preventive measure. Ultimately, Gurgaon ADC VS Hooda and SDM Satender Duhan went to the farmers’ leaders and accepted their memorandum.
Industrialists complain about HSDIIC
The industrialists of Gurgaon and Manesar claim that the new industrial policy of Haryana grants unprecedented powers to HSIIDC. According to them, besides getting away with a rather lopsided estate management policy, HSIIDC has also acquired chunky portions of industrial land all over the state. Industrial areas in Gurgaon, previously under HUDA or the department of industry, according to the 2011 policy, are to be duly handed over to the HSIIDC this year. But this transfer of jurisdiction is being contested by the industrialists of these areas unanimously. The Gurgaon Industrial Association announced that they are going to ask the Chief Minister to intervene and stop the transfer forthwith. The general concern of the industrialists is that a transfer to the HSIIDC ambit would entail double taxation.
Haryana sets up ‘Japanese Township’
Japanese investment constitutes more than 33 per cent of the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) received in the state so far: Suzuki, Honda, Canon, Yakult, Denso, Mitsubishi, Toyo, Daikin, Yokohama, Showa, Nippon, Kansai Paints, Asahi and Stanley. There are about 2,000 Japanese nationals working in such these companies. Some of them shuttle between Japan and India. Now, the Haryana government is planning to set up a Japanese township. The Japanese township would be set up near Madina village in Rohtak district, 60 km from New Delhi, along National Highway 10.