In September 2008 an industrial dispute at Graziano car parts manufacturer in NOIDA ended in a manager’s death and subsequent victimisation of workers. Two years later, a different location in the wider Delhi industrial belt, a different automobile parts manufacturer, the same victimisation of workers after a violent dispute. Again the media worries about the ‘investment climate’. See link below for report by Bigul.
A report on the Sahibabad Allied Nippon incident
By Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
November 16, 2010
Sahibabad is amongst those industrial areas where there has been a glorious history of labour struggles. The martyrdom of Safdar Hashmi of Jan Natya Manch at this place is also a testimony of the labour struggle here. But, at a time when there has been an ever increasing onslaught on the rights of the workers in the era of liberalisation and privatisation and when the administration and industrialists are taking resort to authoritarian means to prevent the workers from getting organized, it is but natural that the workers’ anger would be vented at some or the other place. It is to be recalled that it was not without reason that the ex-president of India K.R.Narayanan had stated, “The patience of those who are suffering for long has got exhausted which can lead to an explosive situation”. If we look back, the reports of the simmering anger of the workers amidst the exploitation, repression, oppression and suffocation have been surfacing in the last decade (The recent labour struggles in Gurgaon, Ludhiana, Gorakhpur and Graziano are testimony to this fact). But this time the anger was released in Sahibabad Site-4.
On 13th November a bloody struggle took place between the management and the workers on the lawful demands of the workers of the Indo-Japanese Combo Allied Nippon Company situated in Sahibabad Site-4 in which the manager of the company Yogendra Chaudhary lost his life. Immediately after this episode the administration and the institutions of the industrialists were alerted to teach a lesson to the workers. The entire media with its clamouring tone is hell bent on terming the workers as murderers. Let us first learn the history of the conditions and struggles of the workers of the Allied Nippon Company before reaching to any conclusion.
What transpired on 13th November? - The Union had earlier declared a strike and the company management wanted to halt it. On the ill fated day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon the HR Head of the company Mahendra Chaudhary went to the two wheeler clutch wiring department along with Yogendra Chaudhary. Some altercation ensued with the workers there. After that Yogendra Chaudhary opened fire and in 4-5 rounds of fire a bullet hit a worker named Brijesh. Subsequently the angry workers valiantly fought with the officials and in an act of defence by the workers, the manager lost his life. Many people were injured from both the sides.
The real cause of the incident – There was a tension between the management and the union from last three months on the issues of contract, bonus and salary hike. Besides the demands of the permanent workers, there was a demand to make those workers as permanent on the priority basis who were working for last 6-8 years. The company had also kept 7 casual workers out of work and there were demands from the management regarding this and a concerned case was pending with the DLC. On the other hand the owner-management did not want to accept these demands. About six month ago the owner had secretly given lakhs of rupees to the so called management (in reality the white collared goons) – Yogendra Chaudhary and his colleagues Rajkumar, Omvir,Mahendra Singh Chaudhary and Narendra Dabas for breaking the union. Since then this so called management was arbitrarily running the factory. It was quite common for them to roam inside the factory openly carrying the guns in order to terrorise the workers. There was a surge in the incidents of threatening and intimidation to the workers, beating them and expelling them on the frivolous grounds so that the owner does not have to regularize any worker and a ground is prepared for not honouring the contract. Whoever was showing any sign of protest was shown the door at some pretext. All this caused enormous indignation among the workers. The workers were living in a condition of fear. If anyone dared to complain he was sure to lose his job. A worker was always living in a dilemma of his economic needs and fear. He was always fearful that if he would protest he would have to lose his job and face economic hassles. On the other hand he was also thinking of salvaging his dignity and self-esteem. This condition was gradually taking a dangerous turn and on 13th November it took an explosive form.
The reality of the so called management – After talking to the workers of the neighbouring locality we came to know that Yogendra Chaudhary used to utilize his influence and contacts to break the union and for intimidation. The workers told that he had earlier done this act of breaking the unions at Rama Steel, TCL and at other places. Yogendra’s wife Sheela Chaudhary is posted at Ghaziabad police department as sub-inspector and he had links with top shots in police, bureaucracy and politics owing to which he used to succeed in breaking the unions. He was running this kind of enterprise at other places as well. In the management of this company as well he had continued to recruit and retrench the people arbitrarily so that his purpose is served soon. But 4 years ago after the formation of the union, the owner had agreed to accept the demands of the workers. But there was a tussle between the management and the workers on the issue of implementation. There was a plan to organize a three day long strike from 16-17-18 November. But on 12th November the DLC ordered a stay on the strike by imposing rule-4 of the Industrial Dispute Act. The union got this information in the evening itself and gave its response on 13th.
Strength of the workers - There are around 300 permanent workers in the Allied Nippon Company and the same would be the approximate strength of the casual workers. Further around the same number of workers work on contract. The workers formed their union in 2006 against the increasing exploitation of the company.
The empire of the company – The workers tell that owner of the company has 4-5 other factories in Gurgaon and other places. There is a big show room in Delhi. The owner’s son’s name is Rohan Talwar.
The authoritarian behavior of the administration with the workers – Yogendra’s relative and the security officer of the company Omvir Singh has lodged an F.I.R. in the Link Road police station against 377 people and by naming 27 workers this case. Police has arrested 8 persons in this connection. Right from the day of the incident, the SSP Raghuvir Lal has been saying that the clash was initiated from the workers’ side. On the other hand the labour department has already stayed the strike by the union by taking refuge to Industrial Dispute Act. The stand of the administration is very clear. The entire site-4 has been converted into a police cantonment and the police teams are conducting raids at different places in the workers bastis. On the other hand the leadership of CITU which claims to represent the interests of workers is maintaining a conspicuous silence over this issue.
Some questions which remain unanswered by the administration - Clearly the death of the manager cannot be justified but the question arises if the pistol is the way how the management wanted to hold a dialogue with the workers? If a case can be filed against 377 workers then why not against the management which carried out a fatal attack on the workers. Secondly if the management at the time of the formation of the union had promised to implement the demands of the workers and now when they have betrayed the promise and arbitrarily retrenching the workers, the union did not have any other means than to go on strike which is a constitutional right of every citizen.
377 workers guilty of murdering one manager – The incident of the site-4 Allied Nippon Company reminds one of the similar incident at Greater Noida’s Graziano in which 136 workers were sent to jail for the death of the CEO of the company and a case was filed under the National Security Act against 6 workers. The incident at the site-4 has once again shown that in the struggle between the owners of capital and the workers the capitalists and government, police, administration,courts, broker trade unions all are united against the workers. Nobody is punished for the death of the industrial accidents in India which are indirectly an outcome of the actions of the management. The murderers of the workers of Bhipal tragedy, Metro Rail Jamroodpur site or Korba episode are not punished till date. The blatant class prejudice of the so called independent and impartial judiciary is seen in this incident as well. When a person belonging to the propertied class is arrested in connection with a crime such as murder he gets bail immediately. On the other hand a case is filed against the workers without any proof of murder.