Strike at Suzuki’s Plants: the Struggle Rages on

14th September 2011

The struggle of the workers of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL, Plot 1, Phase 3A), IMT Manesar united as MARUTI SUZUKI EMPLOYEES UNION (MSEU) is spreading like a prairie fire in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal industries belt, finding crucial support among the workers in the area.

In a significant development, today evening, 14th September, around 3-3.30 pm, when the shift-change happened, workers in three more factories of Suzuki in India, with production chain linkage with Maruti Suzuki, have gone on strike. These are workers in the nearby plants of SUZUKI POWERTRAIN INDIA LTD. and SUZUKI CASTINGS (Plot 1, Phase 3A), where the recently formed SUZUKI EMPLOYEES UNION operates, and workers in SUZUKI MOTORCYCLE INDIA PVT. LTD (Kherki Dhaula, Badshahpur, N.H. 8, Gurgaon-Manesar road).

The workers are on a sit-in strike inside these three factories, completely stopping production. Suzuki Powertrain India Ltd., which manufactures diesel engines and transmissions for supplies to MSIL and has an annual production capacity of 3 lakh units, has around 1250 trainee and permanent and over 600 contract workers; Suzuki Castings, a part of Powertrain, has around 375-400 trainee and permanent and over 500 contract workers, while Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd., has around 1200-1400 workers who relentlessly produce around 1,200 motorcycles and scooters a day. All of these around 4500 workers, have gone on strike in solidarity with the struggling workers of Maruti Suzuki in IMT Manesar, and have said that they are determined to continue till the demands of the workers of Maruti Suzuki, organised as MSEU are met.

The workers of Maruti Suzuki, IMT Manesar have been struggling against the conditions of unending days-and-nights of exploitation and repression in the factory, which resulted in the charge-sheet, termination and suspension of 57 workers since Aug 29th. The MSEU is demanding the withdrawal of the charge-sheet, termination and suspension of the 57 workers, their right to organise and unionise and the just demands of the contract workers.

Along with expressing support for the workers of Maruti Suzuki, the workers in the three factories are also vocal about the oppressive conditions in their own factories, and also demand regularisation of the contract workers in their respective factories. The issue of Unionisation and permanent status to contract workers is surfacing as the major issue in the region finding a resonance with the workers struggle in the rest of the country. The significant­ thing about this strike in the three factories is also the plant-level workers spontaneity and unity rather than the top-down approach of the big central trade unions, who are now slowly coming in support. Concrete support from independent, even factory-level trade unions in the area and beyond is thus a significant development.

The Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal is afire with workers struggle as in the wake of the MSEU’s spirited fight. In the nearby auto-parts manufacturing plant of MUNJAL SHOWA, IMT Manesar (Plot No. 26 E & F Sector 3) on 12 September, all of its 1200 contract ‘trainee’ young workers went on strike against its horrible working conditions and arbitrary hire-and-fire policy, where workers were paid a meagre around Rs.4000-4800, even lower than the Haryana minimum wage rate. In the settlement inked last night 13th September, at 12 pm, the management was forced to make 125 workers permanent, and to promise that after completion of 3 years of training, all workers will be made permanent. This is a historic victory of workers in the area who struggle against internal segmentation of labour, and prepare to wage a determined and united struggle against capital.

However, MARUTI SUZUKI is continuing with its adamant stance and spreading misinformation that the production has resumed (while it is not so as the MSEU’s release makes it clear) and that it can go on with recruiting new workers and ‘robots’ if the workers do not sign the ‘good conduct bond’. The biggest automobile manufacturer in India, with a passenger car market of 45%, whose spending on ‘employee cost’ has decreased to a mere 1.9% of its total spending in 2010-11 is increasing contractualisation, even as it builds an empires on the exploited and alienated labour of the workers. It is responding by using ‘bouncers’, state police and administration and corporate media on its payroll, and attacking workers with misinformation, legal (with a willing State in tow) and illegal threats and coercion.

The struggle in the Maruti Suzuki plant in IMT Manesar has found strong support from the strike action in the three factories of Suzuki India today. It is a difficult road ahead still for the workers who are facing the might of the company and state. We as part of the larger solidarity effort and forum in coordination with the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union’s effort, appeal to all concerned to stand in solidarity with the workers’ struggle.

Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

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