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India: Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers - Facing Repression and illegal lockout - statements by unions

19 July 2012

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NTUI

PRESS RELEASE

19 July, 2012, New Delhi

Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers: Resisting Caste Violence – Facing Brutal Repression

The present spate of violence at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki as a fallout of a protest by workers against a casteist comment made by a supervisor at a dalit worker reflects the continuing use of ‘caste’ as a method of subordination and oppression reflecting the persistence of deeply rooted primordial structures of society that complement capitalist exploitation. When co-workers protested, the management suspended the abused worker and refused to re-instate him and instead resorted to brutal violence, orchestrated by goons, against the workers and targeting the union leaders.

It is important to note that the Maruti Suzuki management is yet to constitute the Grievance Redressal Committee and the Welfare Committee at its Manesar plant which was agreed upon after the last dispute in October 2011. The present dispute is a well planned instigation by the management to systematically derail the ongoing negotiations on the Charter of Demands submitted by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union in April 2012 and to discredit the sustained and united struggle of the workers at the Manesar plant.

The New Trade Union Initiative condemns the use of wanton violence by the Maruti Suzuki management to suppress workers’ protests in defence of their human and democratic rights and disrupt the union. The NTUI also condemns the manner in which the Government of Haryana and the Gurgaon police have consorted with the Maruti Suzuki management by arresting over 100 workers including union leaders and key activists without conducting due investigation and pre-supposing that the workers are solely responsible for the violence. This position of continued support to the Maruti Suzuki of the Government of Haryana demonstrates the lack of political will to protect workers in the state despite its own Labour Department initiating proceedings against Maruti Suzuki for violating the provisions of signed agreement of October 19, 2011 at its Manesar plant.

NTUI demands that the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. –

  • Immediately lift the illegal lockout at the Manesar Plant
  • Immediately and unconditionally reinstate the suspended worker
  • Withdraw all false criminal charges filed against workers with the Haryana Police
  • Respect the Right to Association and negotiate in good faith with the democratically elected Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union.

NTUI demands that the Government of Haryana

  • Immediately Stop the arbitrary and motivated arrests of workers and union leaders by the Gurgaon police without following due investigation and release all workers arrested so far.
  • Immediately declare the lockout at the Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s Manesar Plant to be illegal
  • Initiate Prosecution proceedings against management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. for gross violation of the agreement of 19 October 2011.
  • Ensure that companies operating in the State of Haryana respect the laws of the land including laws that protect the rights of workers.

Gautam Mody

Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative

Press Statement: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU)

PRESS STATEMENT

19TH July 2012

The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) is anguished at the recent
developments in Maruti Suzuki plant, IMT Manesar where the management has resorted to anti-worker and anti-Union activities in a pre-planned manner
leading to violence and the closure of the factory yesterday.

We have had a long tough struggle with the strong unity of our permanent
and contract workers to establish and register our Union last year, and had
recently as of April 2012 submitted our Charter of Demands to the
management of Maruti Suzuki, and the process of negotiation for wages and
other demands was underway. However the management has done its utmost to derail the process since long and is trying to break the back of the spirit of unity of the workers and the legitimacy of the Union.

It is due to this, and continuing with this vindictive attitude and in a
pre-planned manner, yesterday, the afternoon of 18thJuly, a supervisor in
the shop floor abused and made casteist comments against a dalit worker of
the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker.
Instead of taking action against the said supervisor, the management
immediately suspended the worker concerned without any investigation as was demanded by the workers. When the workers along with Union representatives went to meet the HR to demand against the supervisor and revoke the unjust suspension of the worker, the HR officials flatly refused to hear our arguments, and it was in no mood to resolve the issue amicably.

When the negotiation was going on with the leaders of the Union inside the
office, the management called in the entry of hundreds of bouncers on its
payroll from outside the plant to attack the workers, and blocked the exit.
This is completely an illegal vindictive action in the spirit of conspiracy
to corner us into submission even as our demands and methods are legitimate and peaceful. The exit gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms. They, joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers who have had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. The bouncers, who are anti-social elements on hire, also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory. The gates were later opened to oust the workers and enforce a lockout by the company.

We have the workers and the company’s welfare in mind and have worked
towards it after the resolution of the dispute last year, and to blame the
current violence on us is unjust, which should be properly investigated. We
are still keen to dialogue with the company and want to sit with the
company management and the government labour department to amicably resolve the matter and restore industrial peace in the factory.

Ram Meher

President, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU)

Trade Union Solidarity Committee
6, Neelkanth Apartments, Gokuldas Pasta Road,
Dadar (E), Mumbai. Phone No. 022- 24150750

July 20, 2012

Statement on the incident at the Maruti Suzuki Manesar Plant on 18/07/12

Workers and Trade Unions were aghast when once again on July 19, 2012,
reports reached about the turn of events at the Maruti Suzuki plant at Manesar.

The major part of the media reports revolved around the tragic death of
Maruti’s HR Manager owing to the unrest in the plant. Such was also the
pattern of reporting in the past, when Maruti workers resorted to agitation
some months ago, demanding the right to form a union of their own choice.
The industry and media tend to paint such incidents as growing militancy of
workers, instead of labour resistance to rampant exploitation, and for
protection of their legitimate rights, honour and dignity.

Workers who create wealth, add value and bring prosperity to the nation are
seen merely as a cost factor, a necessary nuisance, an easily disposable
and dispensable commodity. What has appeared on the horizon of Maruti, has occurred in quick succession earlier in more or less similar incidents at
Noida and Coimbatore and later in January 2012, at Yanam (Pondichery),
where the union leader of the Regal Ceramics factory, Murali Mohan, was
killed in a brutal lathi charge, resulting in arson in the area and leading
to the tragic death of factory manager, Chandra Sekhar. These incidents
emanating from the most abominable labour policies pursued by the industry, with a double dose of HR arrogance, are fully supported by the state

Growing use of muscle power in the name of security personnel and bouncers at the work place has become the norm, in their attempt to scare workers. Reports reveal that Maruti Suzuki Manesar management brought into action 200 bouncers to discipline workers in the plant on July 18, triggering instant reaction from workers. Bouncers are nothing but goons. Maruti workers retaliated against goons.

Trade Union Solidarity Committee at Mumbai joins the anguish expressed by
the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union. Hundreds of workers are injured,
hospitalized and arrested as a consequence of the anti-labour, anti-union
policies followed by the Maruti management and the Haryana government. The Haryana government has shamelessly supported the Maruti management in all its nefarious actions against the workers.

We express our solidarity with the struggling workers of Maruti Suzuki
Manesar plant, and call upon the Maruti management to cease its WORKER HUNT policies. We also demand that the Haryana State government shed its naked support to the Maruti management.

Such a change, we believe, is essential to make industrial peace in the area a reality, where workers can get back to work, thus ensuring smooth
functioning of the factory.

N. Vasudevan

(Convenor TUSC)