1) Proletarian Experiences – Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective

1) Proletarian Experiences –
Daily life stories and reports from a workers’ perspective

*** Workers’ Reports from Gurgaon/Faridabad Factories –

Shahi Export Worker
(15/1 Mathura Road, Faridabad)
The main problem in this factory is production, production, production. The production targets are way too high. At the feeder each worker has to give his production results to the foremen once every hour. If the production target is not met every hour the supervisor shouts at the workers and threatens them with dismissal. In the sewing departments, in the finishing department… at any place the targets are fixed. There is a lot of pressure, no one wants to sworn at. On 16th and 17th March, when the thread cutting workers did not meet their target before the meal break the supervisor did not allow them take the break. In the second finishing department, which is under the corrugated iron roof, a woman worker fell unconscious on 18th of March, because it was too hot and she was over-worked. How will things look like in the summer months? Last year in summer on one day 50 workers fell unconscious. On 5th of March a supervisor swore at a pressman for not having met the target – other press men surrounded the supervisor and threw him on the floor. On 12th of March the production manager slapped a supervisor for not having achieved the production target. Currently there is less work in the sewing department, but male workers in the finishing department start shift at 9 am and work till 1 am. In February the company ordered overtime on three Sundays. There is a canteen in the factory, by they offer neither meals nor tea. Most of the 2,000 workers employed here are female. If you arrive a minute late or punch out a minute too early they cut 50 Rs to 80 Rs from your wages.

Eastern Medikit Worker
Eastern Medikit has several factories in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon. The wages of the casual workers are always paid delayed. In the factory on Plot 205 in Phase I the casual workers refused to start working on 17th of March 2011, because they had not been paid their February wages. After two hours of ‘work stoppage’ the manager said that wages will be paid the next day. The company plan was to pay an advance of 500 to 1,000 Rs before Holi and the rest of the February wages after Holi, but they had to pay the whole wage on 18th of March.

Gaurav International Worker (Garments)
(Plot 236, Udyog Vihar)
Every month between 400 Rs to 500 Rs get embezzled from workers’ wages. When eight to ten workers went together to the personnel department they were told: why do you come together, come one after the other. When you go on your own they swear at you and ask you: why do you come and make a fuzz about 100 Rs or 200 Rs? Two or four of the old workers were paid the outstanding money, but the rest of us were not paid. Working times are from 9 am to 10:30 pm every day – they hold you back in order to make you work longer. Only the first two hours overtime are paid double, the rest single. We manufacture garments for GAP, Asmara and Dealers. The bosses say that when the representatives of the clients come to visit the factory we should say that there is no overtime, only one or two hours here and there and that we eat our meals at home in the evening. Apart from the 2,000 to 3,000 workers hired directly by the company there are 400 to 500 workers hired through contractor in the finishing department. They don’t get ESI or PF.

Kalamkari Worker (Garments)
(Plot 280, Udyog Vihar Phase II)
Here 400 permanent workers and 1,600 workers hired through contractors are employed. The company does not hand out a pay-slip. We work 125 hours overtime per month, the permanents are paid one and a half, the rest of the workers are paid single rate. The workers stay the same, but after six months they are put on a different pay-roll and the cards are changed in order to avoid having to make them permanent or pay them seniority bonus. The toilets are dirty.

Modelama Worker (Garments)
(Plot 417, Udyog Vihar Phase III)
Daily working time is from 9:30 am till 10:30 pm and at least 12 days per months we are held back and we work till 1 am. For the tailors and the checkers the first two hours of overtime are paid double, the rest at single rate. The other categories of workers are paid only single rate. If you take leave at 6 pm and go home, the next day you have to face verbal abuse. They only start ESI and PF once you have worked for the company for three months. If you leave the job, in order to get the PF form filled in by the company it takes a lot of running around. The helpers received 4,350 Rs in February 2011, meaning that the 155 Rs DA from January was not paid.

Stickpen Worker
(Plot 318, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
In this factory us 150 workers produce writing pens on two 12 hours shifts. On Sundays the day-shift works 9 hours, the night shift 12 hours as usual. Overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers receive 3,200 Rs per month. Only 2 – 4 workers get ESI and PF, these are the permanent workers, the rest are casuals. The drinking water is bad. The toilets are dirty.

S.A.N. International Worker (Garments)
(Plot 203, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
We work from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm every day. Then we might have half and hour or an hour off, then again work till 1:30 am. Often, when we are caught up in work pressure they don’t even grant this break for taking meals. Then we work till 6 am the next day. On Sundays they let us go at 5 pm. The tailors work 125 hours overtime a month, the guys in the finishing department 200 hours, paid single rate. If they make you work till 1:30 am they pay 25 Rs extra for food. If you have to stay till 6 am, they pay 50 Rs. There are about 700 workers in the factory, but there is no canteen. The tailors don’t get ESI or PF. There is a lot of dirt in the drinking water. The doors of the toilets are broken. We are hired through contractor, but we don’t know who it is – it’s possible that the general manager himself is the contractor.

Sherry Clothing Worker
(Plot 400, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
If you take one day off they cut two days from your wage. The management swears at us. The helpers are paid 4,200 Rs, the tailors are on piece-rate. The toilets are dirty.

Aaina Fashion Worker
(Plot 893, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
The helpers are paid 3,500 Rs, the tailors are on piece rate. Of 200 workers only 4 are permanents, the rest are casual workers. The boss tells us that he will close the factory, that he will shut it on the 31st of March, he tells us to look for a different job, that we should leave now and come back on the 7th of April to get our final payment. One of us went and asked: “If we lose the job, why don’t you pay us now?”, but the accountant got angry and hit him. After that the worker went to see the manager of the plant, then the director, but then the big wigs kicked him out from the factory.

Vodafon Worker
(Plot 102, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
For running their company office Vodafon has subcontracted cars and drivers. The drivers have to wait outside of the gate by day and night, during summer, winter and monsoon. Vodafon hasn’t installed a rest room for the drivers.

*** Systemic Collapse or Emancipation? On Accidents –

Two accidents in Gurgaon area earlier this year pushed the ‘constant emergency’ and the ‘fragile temporary absence of accidents’ back into our heads.

On 25th of January in Okhla industrial area a fire broke out on the fourth floor of a arment export factory. Thirty workers in the finishing department died. Most (garment) factories there operate with boilers, solvents or other chemicals. Most factories are crammed with people, most factories only have one entrance/exit, which, in many cases, is locked during working time. After the accident ‘concerned’ journalists reported: “It is surprising that despite occurrence of such a major mishap in the area, no step has been taken so far by the concerned civic agency to stop the illegal and dangerous business in the area, which the owners cannot run without having nexus with the local police. “The business at the factory resumed just a day after the mishap,” said a worker, adding, “there are more than 100 illegal garment manufacturing units in the area which are still operating without any disturbance.” “Instead of standing with us, the police is making their all possible efforts to save the owner of the factory. More than 20 people from our locality have lost their lives, but the police’s count is less than 10,” said Hamid Ali (50), who lost his 18-year-old daughter in the boiler blast.

On the 17th of February an under-construction 6-storey building collapsed on Plot 100 of Udyog Vihar Phase I Gurgaon. It took 24 hours to get the right machinery to search for victims. The road was closed till the 22nd of February and people were obstructed from observing the ‘rescue operations’. Officially two security guards were declared dead. Rumurs spread that several families had slept in the construction site that night. The construction company Millenium Construction Private Limted built a factory for Unitech Infosys. The media: “Though the officials were not certain as to what could have led to the structure’s collapse, use of sub-standard material is being investigated.”

The incidents of ‘accidents’ are neither accidental nor isolated. Regarding the question of accidents we think that systemic problems require a systemic analysis – we therefore encourage to read the following article by Amadeo Bordiga concerning the question of ‘capitalist catastrophes’: