Class solidarity is urgently needed NOW!!
In what appeared like a crushing blow to the militant 33 day struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers at Manesar plant in Gurgaon (Haryana), wherein the union leadership came under enormous pressure from the Suzuki bosses, Haryana government and lamentingly can we say the despicable role of the leadership of the Central Trade Unions (TU’s) to sign a so called “truce agreement” that has once again forced the workers to launch strike action due to the inevitable clash with the management. This arm twisted “agreement” far from being a truce was in fact a coercion on the workers, forcing them to sign the hated ‘good conduct bond’, with the management once again refusing to recognize their union and the only thing the management appeared to concede was the taking back some of the suspended workers.
Even before the ink on the agreement had dried, the management began to strike back with a vengeance. First up were the 1200 odd contractual labourers who were refused entry into the plant when they turned up for work because of their role in the strike. Next came the harassment of the permanent workers who were all shifted round from their usual workplaces and accusing them of going slow. And then the bus services was intentionally suspended with consequences of workers turning late for work and losing Rs. 1500 as per the new rules. All the signs and symptoms appeared to indicate that the management was hell bent on crushing the unity forged among all the sections of workers – permanent, contractual and trainee workers, during the course of the strike.
Workers United Can Never Be Defeated
If the management thought that they could simply browbeat the workers to accept their diktats like in the past, they were wrong! In a show of unity with their sacked working class brethren and the likely fate that is in store for them next, more than 2000 workers at the plant struck work and have been staging a sit in protest since 7th October, just days after the 33 day strike had ended, demanding the reinstatement of contract workers and suspended workers, end to harassment and restoration of bus services.
What’s more surprising and welcoming was the workers were not alone this time, they were joined by workers in four other Suzuki plants (totally 8000 in all) and few others in the area who have all shown solidarity with the struggling workers by staging sit in protests, which have in turn affected production in those plants. While reports in the media are abound with the alleged sabotage by workers and fire shots being heard inside the plant, whatever the manufactured truth behind these allegations, it is without a shred of doubt that it is the Suzuki management in connivance with the Corrupt government of Haryana that is solely responsible for creating such a disastrous situation.
The Executive, Judiciary & the Police are serving the interests of the Maruti Suzuki bosses
And now armed with a high court order directing all the workers to leave the factory premises, in a blatantly partisan manner, the Haryana government have deployed more than 2500 police force who have virtually occupied the plant and cutting workers access to all basic necessities like canteen and water, besides blocking their access to the toilet. This shows to what abyss can the state machinery: government (both state and central), bureaucracy (labour department), the judiciary and the police (armed bodies of the state) are prepared to stoop to crush the workers collective action at the behest of the company management. While the tense stand off continues, it is merely a question of when the police will begin the final crackdown on the workers.
The strategy of the Central Trade Union leadership is utterly wanting!
With the Maruti Suzuki union leadership once again being forced to consult all the central TU’s across party divide, who unfortunately have no vision except their dry stance on maintaining “good industrial relations”. While all the central Tu’s are once again extending support but ideologically they are with the bosses to see the end of the militancy, lest their accepted role of negotiating “peace” is threatened and their enormous clout and privileges as “leaders” of the working class is done away with .
It is time for both the workers and union leadership to take stock of the situation by learning from the mistakes from the past. One, however long the workers are willing to stick their heads out whether for 1 day or 100 days, given the company’s financial strength, the management is basically looking to tire the workers’ out.
We have a rich history of the Indian working class waging heroic battles, but yet failing to clinch victories; the 18 month strike of 250,000 Bombay Textile workers in the 1980’s is replete with precious lessons for the working class of the present generation.
Secondly, as of now this is no isolated issue confined to a single factory in Gurgoan and applies not only to factories in Gurgaon but extends throughout India. Whether it is Comstar workers in Chennai (54 day strike) or the Volvo workers in Bangalore (72 days strike) or power-loom workers of Punjab (more than 20 days now), it is the same old story of exploitation from auto-mobiles to garments, textiles and others, under the garb of (capitalist) globalization that is hell bent on transferring the effects of the deep economic crisis faced by the developed world which is beginning to make inroads into the fragile success story of India, the bosses here are panicking to maintain and make their profits at any cost.
The police crackdown on the workers of Suzuki need not be inevitable, it can be stopped. But this will happen only when the workers as a class stand up and fight. It can be stopped by a call and mobilising for an industry wide mass action, not just confined to Gurgoan or the Haryana state and Delhi but a nationwide industrial action combined with solidarity and support from all major auto-mobile workers unions from across the world, especially from the advanced capitalist world.
In the event of a likely crackdown on the workers by the police and company hired goons at the behest of the management vis a vis government and also given the violent history of trying to suppress workers’ struggle as in the Honda workers struggle in 2005, it is time for the workers and the union leadership to prepare themselves for such an eventuality by setting up democratically organized workers’ defence committees to safeguard the workers’ rights and protect themselves, their health and safety.
Only then will the company management and their sycophants in the government be brought to the negotiating table. Given the strength and the resources of the Central TU’s, this is possible. But unfortunately for the workers, the central TU’s seem to be caught in a time warp with their own rustic mode of functioning and an old leadership that hardly matches with the energy and militancy of this newer generations of workers that are coming out now to fight for their basic rights as workers and class.
The New Socialist Alternative (CWI – India) unequivocally supports all the main demands of the workers i.e., to immediately take back all the suspended workers as well as the contractual workers, stop the harassment workers, restoration of Transport services, recognition of their union both by the government and the management, better working conditions, making all the contractual workers permanent, stricter implementation of labour laws and so forth.
The New Socialist Alternative along with its International, Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) recognises that the strike of the Maruti Suzuki Workers is a significant development for the working class as a whole in India, we envision this strike as the beginnings of a new churning that is bound to develop further at an all India level. We the New Socialist Alternative and the CWI will be campaigning for solidarity and support among Trade Unions, fighting organisations and peoples’ movements for the Maruti Suzuki workers struggle through our forces internationally.
We need to build powerful, democratic Trade Unions !
But this in itself is not enough. All this must be accompanied by democratization of the unions and a newer leadership, extending all the way to the top, particularly to the Central TU’s. Trade Union federations must unionise the workers through a mass mobilization campaign based on grass roots democracy and independent and collective decision making powers of the workers at the factory, city/ town, state and national level and prepare the workers for the coming period against capitalism which is crisis ridden Internationally, which is seeking to off load it burdens on the workers of the neo – colonial countries.
Above all the working class in struggle is bound to learn and come to the conclusion and see the need for a New Mass party of the Working Class people with a clear programme of alternative to the present profit driven, coercive and oppressive system of capitalism. Such a mass party needs to be built immediately which can take along with it all the oppressed people; the rural peasantry, urban poor, the oppressed castes and genders which can unite the numerous scattered peoples struggles that are manifesting in various and peculiar ways against the system of private profit, the enemy of our all oppressed classes i.e., CAPITALISM.
New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India)
Solidarity action needed urgently and now
We call upon the youth,workers and Trade Unions nationally and internationally to send solidarity messages and protest letters to the addresses and mail Id’s given below. Please also click on the appeal directly made by the striking workers of Maruti Suzuki and other plants: http://radicalnotes.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/appeal-from-the-maruti-suzuki-employees-union/
Please send protest letters and petitions to :
1)Bhoopinder Singh Hooda, (Cheif Minister of Haryana)
2)R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India Limited.
3)Osamu Suzuki, CEO, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan. Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
And Solidarity messages to : email@example.com
Please phone the union activists and leaders of this historic strike, Comrade Sonu Kumar- +919540741900 , Comrade Shiv Kumar- +919911403042 for further contact and solidarity actions.