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Pakistan unions support the struggle of Maruti automobile workers in India | press reports

26 July 2013

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The News International (Pakistan)

Pakistani workers express solidarity with Indian counterparts

our correspondent

Friday, July 26, 2013

Karachi

The Pakistan Chapter of the South Asian Labour Forum (SALF) on Thursday demanded immediate release of Maruti Suzuki workers in India, who were arrested by the police last year as well as withdrawal of all cases lodged against them by the administration.

Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the trade union leaders and human rights activists expressed solidarity with the Indian workers. They demanded unconditional reinstatement of the workers who were illegally terminated from the jobs during this movement. They also called for the restoration of the ceased bank accounts of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (India).

The press conference was addressed by Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, Mohammad Jaffar of Muttahida Labour Federation, Manzoor Razi and Rehana Yasmeen. They said that the labour unions reserve the right to formulate their strategy for future struggle, protest and demonstration if the Indian government did not consider their appeal.

They pointed out that PILER had organised a meeting of South Asian Labour Forum (Pakistan Chapter) on the issue of Maruti Suzuki workers on July 19 in Karachi to express solidarity for this movement from Pakistan. The meeting was attended by the leading trade union leaders who extended unconditional support to the struggle of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union.

The meeting underlined the need of forging unity between all the labour movements across South Asian region. It was also decided that SALF (Pakistan Chapter) would organise a large-scale consultation meeting and a press conference as a part of the solidarity campaign. SALF (Pakistan Chapter) had also constituted a seven-member committee to develop a strategy to extend support to the labour movement across the region. The committee agreed to raise funds to provide the token financial assistance to the movement in which all labour unions, labour rights organisations and like-minded individuals would contribute according to their capacity. For this purpose SALF committee announced to print the receipt vouchers for the contributors.

The Maruti Udyog Ltd was established in Gurgaon, India, in 1983. After its launch in India, the company soon became a symbol of automobile revolution.

Since its founding in 1983, Maruti Udyog Ltd experienced few problems with its labour force. The Indian labour it hired readily accepted Japanese work culture and the modern manufacturing process. In 1997, there was a change in ownership, and Maruti became predominantly government controlled.

In the year 2000, a major industrial relations issue began and employees of Maruti went on an indefinite strike, demanding among other things, major revisions to their wages, incentives and pensions.

On 18 July, 2012, Maruti’s Manesar plant was hit by violence as workers at one of its auto factories attacked supervisors and started a fire that killed a company official and injured 100 managers, including two Japanese expatriates.

On July 18 last year, 147 Maruti Suzuki workers were arrested in the wake of industrial violence at Manesar facility, besides 546 permanent and some 1,800 contract workers were summarily dismissed. Non-bailable warrants are still pending against 66 workers. In July this year, the workers went on hunger strike to protest the continuing jailing of their colleagues and launched an online campaign to support their demands.

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