One Month After the Violence at Maruti Suzuki Plant

Solidarity Support for the Maruti Suzuki workers by the workers of Gurgaon.

It has been over one month since the sudden violence that erupted at the Maruti Suzuki plant at Manesar, Haryana (close to Delhi) that left one HR manager dead and several injured including workers. Still the cause behind who was actually responsible for the unfortunate incident remains a mystery. But as we predicted in our earlier article (See: Violence at Maruti Suzuki Plant), it was the workers who have been blamed for the whole incident and now we have the latest news coming in of the management sacking 1000 workers (500 permanent and 500 contact workers) for causing the violence without even a shred of evidence against them. How the management came to the conclusion at such an exact round figures as being responsible for the violence is anybody’s guess. More workers jobs are also on the line.

Without even looking at the whole history of events from last year plus the extreme kind of exploitation of the workforce that have been pointed by many Trade Union activists time and again, the entire sham investigation by the Haryana state government seems to be driven by the management version of the events. While none from the management have till date been bought to books over labour violations (which is a forgotten chapter now) and human rights abuses, the police managed to arrest over 110 workers and is using all sorts of methods (including torture) in trying to pin the whole blame on the workers. About 3000 workers have been forced to go underground fearing arrest and police continue to harass and intimidate their family members in the hope of trying to arrest them all.

The fact that goons and bouncers masquerading as security personnel or even otherwise have been used against the workers is a common feature everywhere in the industrial belt of Gurgaon. Even the workers version that blamed bouncers for causing the violence, which even gained some coverage in the media, has totally been glossed over by the investigation. The entire area around the Manesar plant is now a no-go area for activists or workers alike and has completely been surrounded by police at the behest of the management and the government. The decision of the management to restart production from 21st August with 300 workers initially after rigorous screening (Read: after forcing them to bow down to Management dictates) and its plans to hire only permanent employees from 2nd September, does not say anything about the fate of the 1500 or so contract employees, whose employment hangs in the balance.

The response by the Indian Inc. was hardly less brutal. Asim Premji (Chairman, WIPRO chairman), for instance, demanded that the government should act “ruthlessly” against such social unrest, in what he in a way correctly assessed as a sign “of the social unrest that is building up in the country”.

Worse still is the assertion both by the government and management that Maoists could have triggered the whole incident. Notwithstanding the fact there is no significant influence of Maoism anywhere in the region, the whole idea behind such comments is to teach the working class a lesson for rising against the brutal exploitation by big multinationals like Suzuki by trying to fabricate the whole thing as a terrorist act and book the workers under draconian acts like UAPA etc. What the ruling class fears most is the spread of such militant strike action that could engulf the entire region.

Even if the workers had a role in the violence (as claimed by the management), the workers have every right to defend themselves when attacked by forming defence committees. Probably because of inexperience and without proper guidance from the Central Trade Unions, building solidarity committees among other auto-mobile and other industries or even unionisation of other factory workers and forming defence committees in the area, could not be given proper and immediate attention that they deserved.

One of the important aspects in the aftermath of the violence on 18th July is the enormous solidarity support the Maruti Suzuki workers have received not only in the Gurgaon region and but from many parts of India as well. Because if there is one class that can actually challenge and stop this repression and intimidation both by the management and corrupt state/ central government, it is the working class of Gurgaon and Delhi region through solidarity strike action in their workplaces that could potentially bring all the multinational corporation to a halt.

The New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) is in complete solidarity and supports all the demands of the Maruti Suzuki workers.

We demand:

– All the workers be released immediately without conditions and all false charges against the workers be withdrawn. Action to be taken against corrupt government and police officials.

– Lockout must be lifted and all the workers be taken back immediately without conditions. No to disbanding of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MUSU).

– An independent probe involving workers representatives from the area, trade unionist and others (with no conflict of interests with any big company) must be constituted immediately and due legal action must be taken against the management if found guilty.

Given the nature of all the state institutions that are accountable to nobody and have played a partisan role favouring the management against the workers all along, it is important that the workers, while using all the democratic channels available to them to fight for their rights, but at the same time the workers or the working class organizations should not have any illusions in the system.

Therefore, NO trust in the Congress led government (both Centre and the state) that is responsible for the neo-liberal policies. No trust in the State administration, police or the judiciary that are all corrupt and repressive and are nothing more than arms of the Indian ruling class.

Given the violent history of trying to suppress workers’ struggles in Gurgaon, we call upon the workers and the Trade Unions to organise themselves by setting up democratically organized workers’ defence committees to safeguard the workers’ rights and protect themselves, their health and safety against any attacks by the management goons or the police forces in the future.

Anand Kumar

Bangalore