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

*** Story by Proletarian Tenant on Landlordism in Tekhand, Okhla Industrial Area –

A proletarian tenant in Tekhand, near Okhla Industrial Area
(Distributed in Hindi in FMS 275/276 May/June 2011)

In order to get drinking water in Tekhand (a ‘village’ near Okhla industrial area) you have to run a motor pump. On two floor there are about 22 rooms occupied by tenants. Since six months the landlord runs the motor pump only every second day for each floor. This could mean that you won’t have water to wash your clothes on Sunday. You are also not allowed to keep too many canisters or other kind of water containers. In this way the landlord can save one or two units for his electricity bill, may be 10 Rs here and there. It does not matter that this causes a lot of problems for the tenants. When the motor pump got stolen the landlord asked for 150 Rs extra from each room. If you refused to pay, he would have kicked you out, he says that there are a lot of tenants queuing up for rooms.

When a tenant wants to give up his or her room in Tekhand, some landlords, under this or that pretext, demand the payment of 2,000 Rs, 3,000 Rs extra. When a tenant wanted to leave his room on 10th of April 2011, the landlord said that for one and a half months of electricity and cleaning charges he should first pay 2,050 Rs. The whole thing was a complete con and the landlord went so far as to use open threats and finally he called the cops. After the word about this conflict spread amongst the tenants of the 70 rooms of the landlord and the neighbouring rooms and people started discussing, the thuggish behaviour of the landlord stopped. The tenant cleared his room in front of the landlord’s eyes… without paying him the 2,050 Rs.

*** Workers’ Reports from (Garment) Factories in Gurgaon –

NIIT Technologies Worker
(Plot 223, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
This IT company employs around six to seven thousand workers. We 33 housekeeping workers on plot 223 are not even paid the minimum wage. In March we were paid 3,850 Rs for 31 days of work, 8 hours a day. Now, since 13th of April we are supposed to work on two 12-hours shifts and they say that for 31 days of 12-hours shifts we will be paid 5,800 Rs. None of us gets ESI or PF.

Modelama Worker
(Plot 105, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
We work from 9:30 am till 8 pm, often 2 am or even 6 am the next day. There are 4,000 workers employed, manufacturing for GAP, Old Navy, AMC, DKNY etc.. The 600 to 700 female workers in the finishing department are paid 3,600 Rs to 4,000 Rs, they often have to work till 10:30 pm at night. The male workers are paid 4,200 Rs to 4,300 Rs. In the production department there are 3,000 tailors (200 female), out of which 1,000 are on piece rates and the rest on monthly wages of 4,400 Rs to 4,500 Rs. The 250 workers in the sampling department are paid 4,893 Rs. We work 100 to 150 hours overtime per month. Only the permanent workers are paid double rate, but only the first two hours of daily overtime. Even after five years of employment some workers to get the PF form. A lot of swearing from the bosses, bad drinking water, dirty toilets.

Eastern Medikit
(Plot 195 and 205, Udyog Vihar Phase I and Plot 292, Phase II)
Wages were delayed. The casual workers of the company started to go on strike on 20th of April, the company then paid the March wages on 22nd of April. The casual workers work on two 12-hours shifts, they get 18 Rs per hour overtime. The payment for February overtime was delayed, on 10th of April workers at Medikit stopped work in order to move the company to pay, on 12th of April they did.

SLV Security Worker
(Office of the company is near Ghora Farm, Sector 23)
The company employs 27,000 to 28,000 guards, they all work on two 12-hours shifts. There is no weekly day off. They pay 6,000 Rs for 12 hours, 31 days – cash in hand. If they see you dozing off they cut 300 Rs from your wages.

Grand Printers Worker
(134, Udyog Vihar Phase IV)
We work from 9 am till 8 pm on one day, from 9 am till 2 am the other. This is an industrial print-shop for cigarette packs, medical packaging and so on. They pay double rate for overtime… but the helpers are paid only 2,200 to 2,800 Rs per month and the operators 4,000 to 5,000 Rs. Only 50 out of 300 workers get ESI and PF.

Neelam International Worker
(556, Udyog Vihar Phase V)
The female workers (also the 12 to 15 year old girls) have work till late at night, sometimes till 6 am the other day. Overtime is paid single rate. The female workers who work by hand get 4,200 Rs the tailors get 5,500 Rs. None of the 500 workers get ESI or PF. Male and female workers have to share the same toilets. The factory has three floors, but only on the ground floor there are two toilets. There is always a queue. If you leave the job you have to fight hard in order to get your outstanding wages.

Jyoti Apparels Worker
(158, Udyog Vihar Phase I)
In the finishing department around 50 to 60 women workers work from 9:30 am till 9 pm, and 150 male workers work till 1 am. The monthly overtime of 150 to 200 hours is paid single rate. The tailors are sometimes paid piece rate, sometimes daily wages, sometimes monthly. None of the 450 to 500 workers get ESI or PF, may be the 50 staff get it. The general manager swears at workers. There is no canteen. The drinking water is crap. The toilets dirty. The situation in the factory next door is the same.

House of Pearl Worker
(446, Udyog Vihar Phase 5)
Around 3,000 workers produce stuff for JC Penny and Impulse. Daily shifts are from 9 am to 9 pm, often till 1 am. Only half of the workers get ESI and PF. The ‘incharges’ swear at workers a lot. Even during meal breaks you won’t find drinking water in this factory.

IMT Manesar

Kumar Printers Worker
(Plot 24, Sector 5, IMT)
In order to earn some money a worker worked 16 hours a day for 10 days in a row. He went to work even when his appetite went. He fell ill… On the 11th day he had to quit the job. The company paid him single rate for his overtime.

Crewboks Worker
(Plot 153, Sector 4, IMT)
The wages are delayed. The February wages were paid on 15th of April 2011, the March wages have not been paid (30th of April). Workers stopped working on 24th and 25th of April because December 2010 overtime had not been paid yet. The company kicked out three workers who stood in front and talked [talked to the management, talked openly]. The overtime money was then paid on 27th of April. On 25th of March 250 workers who had worked for the company since one and a half to two years were shifted to the plant on plot 12 in sector 5. Their PF numbers were changed.

Adigear Worker
(Plot 150, Sector 4, IMT)
In April the factory was swarming with representatives of the ‘buyers’. PUMA wants 25,000 pieces every week. JAMBUREE wants jeans for Australia. RSS orders uniforms. ADIDAS sent their representatives. The workers had stopped work for two days in March, because wages were delayed. The company reassured that wages will now be paid punctually on the 7th of each month. The problem in April was that because there were so many representatives running about the company did not want to be the last month wages in order to avoid the representatives seeing the large [and formally illegal] amount of overtime we work. They turned the 150 to 180 hours of overtime from March into 30 hours, documented on the pay slip. The bosses said: “Take your wages now, we will pay the remaining overtime later”. The workers said: “No way, pay both now”. They then paid both, March wages and overtime, around 17th to 21st of April. There is a huge work load due to the increased demand. Most of the 300 guys in the finishing department work from Saturday 9:30 am till Sunday 1:00 in the afternoon, that’s a 27.5 hours shift. On 27th of April the company dismissed the ‘incharge’ of the finishing department because he refused to work that long.