As expected, workers have once again struck work at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) located in Gurgaon (Haryana) on 29th August. This flows directly from the farcical deal that was negotiated by the central trade union leaders like the AITUC with the management, which had rejected the primary demand of the workers to set up their own union as opposed to the management run union. Instead of fighting to the finish, undue pressure was then brought upon the workers by the central unions, who wanted to press a deal with the management, for the fear of the protest spreading throughout the region with over 2 million workers employed in various industries including automotive.
The immediate cause for the strike this time around was the totally illegal “good conduct bond” that every worker at the plant was required to sign, which basically debarred the workers to take part in union activities! This was a well thought of strategy of the management all along to break the leadership of the workers. Ever since the strike ended in June, the management has followed a thoroughly vindictive attitude towards the workers (so much for leniency in disciplining the workers which was part of the package deal!) with over 84 workers losing their jobs or suspended since June.
As if that was not enough, 11 more workers have been terminated and 10 more suspended since 29th August on charges of indiscipline and all the workers were ordered to sign the “good conduct bond”. Refusing to be cowed down, all the workers (estimated to be more than 2500) have been staging the dharna outside while police and company goons have occupied the factory enforcing a lock-out. On 30th August, 28 more workers were sacked or suspended taking the toll to 49 for now.
In a clearly partisan manner, the Haryana Congress government led by Bhupinder Hudda (or Gunda?) has openly sided with the mangement from the start, posting a large contingent of police in the area and the factory, and company hired goons in the guise of security men have been intimidating the workers. The government has left no stone unturned and has prevented all efforts by the workers to register their own union.
Compromise or Sell out!
While the strike has been supported by the central trade unions such as AITUC and CITU and also support has come from smaller unions and groups, it remains to be seen what kind of a compromise (sell out) they (central unions) would work out with the management this time around. Management, however, is in no mood to negotiate and is out hiring contract workers to restart production at the plant. Workers from other factories in the area, who face similar work conditions, have expressed solidarity and all indications are that they could get involved if the management refuses to relent.
New Socialist Alternative demands supportive strike action
The current struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers must not be seen in isolation but should be looked from the overall perspective of an unstable global economy and the changed political scenario in India especially after the anti-corruption movement that have brought millions of people onto the streets for the first time in decades. More struggles will be the order of the day, but unless backed by a decisive political leadership based on a struggle for Socialism, the reformist unions will once again channel these struggles along the lines of reformism and thus killing any desire for a fundamental change among the workers.
New Socialist Alternative fully backs the struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers.
To reinstate all the sacked or suspended workers without conditions
Right of Workers to form their union under democratic principles without interference from the company management
All culprits including the management to be brought to books
The central trade unions AITUC and CITU must mobilise and call for General strike action in support of Maruti Suzuki workers
An immediate mass meeting to mobilise support among all sections of the working class
It is imperative on the leadership of the Unions to have an industry/trade wide unions on a town, City, state and national basis strictly run on grass roots democracy, which will be enormously effective in fighting for better wages and conditions from the current fractured unions under the control of political parties, NGO’s etc.