Possibilities beyond the Maruti Struggle: Nationalisation and Workers Control – Alok, KYS

Alok Kumar, leader of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan addressing a gathering at the Maruti Suzuki Headquarters on August 27, 2012.

Sep 2 – Relatives and families of Maruti Suzuki workers demonstrate in Rohtak

On 2nd September 2012, over 400 relatives and families of workers of Maruti Suzuki protested against the arrests, torture and termination of workers, and demanded immediate release and work for all workers. The families and relatives who came from all across Harayana- Hisar, Rohtak, Jind, Kaithal, Narwana, Gurgaon, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, as well as from U.P., Punjab, Himachal, Rajasthan wanted to meet Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, but were dissapointed when the Police Commissioner and a huge contingent of Haryana Police blocked and disallowed us our right to do so. It became clear to all that the government and police is continuing to act against the interests of common people and workers and their families, and acting in complete favour of the Suzuki management. The families gave a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the D.C. Rohtak after demonstrating in front of his office.


In the meeting, workers relatives put across their view. Suresh’s brother said that police torture was meted out to the workers on direction of the management, and asked why the government is acting in the management’s favour. Ramvilas’s uncle Ramesh said even the family members were not spared. Sushma said proper investigation should be done about the management’s role in the incident. Jagbir said how his son was awarded ‘best worker’ twice by the company itself, and now has put him in jail and all workers are being called criminals even when investigation has not taken place. That the government is not giving any respect to workers or their families came out of all the protestors.

In the demonstration, banners of ‘Maruti Suzuki workers Union’s families and solidarity committee were there. Posters and slogans like ‘All workers are innocent, immediately release all workers’, ‘Company-Government-police stop harassment of workers’, ‘Hooda government answer us, respect workers families’, ‘punish the guilty managament of maruti suzuki’ were made.

The demands put forward are-
1. Immediately release all workers arrested from the night of 18th July on.
2. Register cases of conspiracy and death on the management of Maruti Suzuki.
3. Take back to work all 546 terminated workers.
4. Punish the police officials who are harassing and torturing workers and their families.
5. Take action against factory management who are fluting labour laws.

Signed/- Avtar Singh, Kurukshetra and Pramod kr, Sonepat, Haryana

August 9: In solidarity with Maruti Suzuki Workers

A joint demonstration was organized at the Labour Ministry headquarters of the Indian government in Delhi by over 20 organizations on August 9, 2012 to protest the repression and arrest of Maruti Suzuki workers of Manesar plant (Haryana), and against the violent work regime that exists in the industrial sector in the country which do not even grant minimum labour rights allowed under the existing labour laws. Around 60 activists were forcibly detained at the Parliament Street Police Station, where they organised a meeting (see the videos below):

Com Alok (Krantikari Yuva Sangathan)

Com Sanjay (Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra)

Cultural Activists

On the significance of the Maruti Suzuki struggle – Pothik Ghosh


Pothik Ghosh, Editor, Radical Notes speaking at the July 21st Demonstration

On the Struggle at Maruti Suzuki and the 18th July event – A Conversation with Shyambir


Bhumika Chauhan talks to Shyambir, an activist with Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Gurgaon

Press Statement: Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) is anguished at the recent developments in Maruti Suzuki plant, IMT Manesar where the management has resorted to anti-worker and anti-Union activities in a pre-planned manner leading to violence and the closure of the factory yesterday.

We have had a long tough struggle with the strong unity of our permanent and contract workers to establish and register our Union last year, and had recently as of April 2012 submitted our Charter of Demands to the management of Maruti Suzuki, and the process of negotiation for wages and other demands was underway. However the management has done its utmost to derail the process since long and is trying to break the back of the spirit of unity of the workers and the legitimacy of the Union.

It is due to this, and continuing with this vindictive attitude and in a pre-planned manner, yesterday, the afternoon of 18th July, a supervisor in the shop floor abused and made casteist comments against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. Instead of taking action against the said supervisor, the management immediately suspended the worker concerned without any investigation as was demanded by the workers. When the workers along with Union representatives went to meet the HR to demand against the supervisor and revoke the unjust suspension of the worker, the HR officials flatly refused to hear our arguments, and it was in no mood to resolve the issue amicably.

When the negotiation was going on with the leaders of the Union inside the office, the management called in the entry of hundreds of bouncers on its payroll from outside the plant to attack the workers, and blocked the exit. This is completely an illegal vindictive action in the spirit of conspiracy to corner us into submission even as our demands and methods are legitimate and peaceful. The exit gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms. They, joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers who have had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. The bouncers, who are anti-social elements on hire, also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory. The gates were later opened to oust the workers and enforce a lockout by the company.

We have the workers and the company’s welfare in mind and have worked towards it after the resolution of the dispute last year, and to blame the current violence on us is unjust, which should be properly investigated. We are still keen to dialogue with the company and want to sit with the company management and the government labour department to amicably resolve the matter and restore industrial peace in the factory.

Ram Meher
President, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU)

Faridabad Update: Striking nurses block roads as negotiations fail

AS NEGOTIATIONS FAIL, STRIKING NURSES TAKE OUT MASSIVE PROTEST RALLY IN FARIDABAD & BLOCK B.K. CHOWK
HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT INSTALLS PHONE JAMMERS INSIDE THE HOSTEL TO INTIMIDATE STRIKING NURSES
PATIENTS HEALTH IN PERIL AS UNTRAINED NURING STAFF & NURSING STUDENTS ARE BROUGHT IN AS REPLACEMENTS

The nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Faridabad and QRG Central Hospital continue to sit on strike for the NINTH consecutive day. Since the management of AIMS hospital is determined not to increase the pay of the nurses, and not to reduce their work load by removing compulsory double duty, negotiations held with the AIMS management on 14.05.2012 failed. While the next round of negotiations is still pending in the case of QRG Central hospital, the chances of the QRG management conceding some of the main demands of the nurses’ is doubtful.

In order to build larger public pressure on the hospitals’ management as well as the district administration of Faridabad, the striking nurses of both hospitals took out a big rally from BT Chowk. There they blocked the roads surrounding the Chowk for nearly two hours till they were given the assurance that the District Commissioner will meet them in person on the 16th. The nurses’ rally was supported by trade unions in Faridabad, women’s organizations, welfare associations, several civil rights groups, and democratic and progressive individuals. Meanwhile, the two hospitals concerned kept up the façade of “normal” functioning by replacing the striking nurses with untrained nursing staff and nursing students—a measure which is putting patients at serious risk.

The striking nurses have continuously complained about the uncooperative approach of the district and labour administration. They argue that the district administration and labour office was intervening in a manner which reflects their connivance with the hospitals’ management. In the case of QRG Central, the civil court ordered that the peaceful demonstration of the striking nurses be shifted to a distance of 200 meters to an inconspicuous and distant location. Interestingly, the law allows for only 100 meters distance. In the case of both hospitals, the local officials are preventing the nurses from putting up a tent structure to protect themselves from the heat.

As expected, with each day the harassment by the hospitals’ management escalates. On the night of 14.05.2012 when AIMS nurses returned to their hostel after their ninth day of strike, they found jammers installed inside their hostel. Because of the device the nurses could not make or receive calls for several hours. Suspecting foul play they called the police and pushed for an inspection of a vacant, locked room where the felt the jammer was installed. Initially, the police was reluctant to remove the device due to pressure from the management, but then finally because all the nurses pressed for action, the jammer was finally removed at 10pm,” said an agitated nurse of AIMS hospital. Today (15.05.2012), the security staff of the hospital removed the water cooler installed in the hostel, hence, depriving the nurses of drinking water. Security personnel/bouncers hired by the hospitals are continuously entering the women’s hostels, and coercing individual nurses to join back. “A nurse who was recuperating from an attack of serious illness was continuously mentally pressurized by the hospital’s nursing supervisor who kept calling her on the phone—something which worsened her condition,” said another agitated nurse.

Considering the hostile atmosphere, the nurses of both AIMS and QRG Central hospitals have decided to form a Joint Action Committee (JAC) so as to unite nurses of all the different hospitals in Faridabad. Considering that conditions continue to be grave, the nurses resorted to a larger public campaign. During their rally they distributed pamphlets explaining to the general public how their strike was in favour of better patient care.

Thankamma Ravindran
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Alok Kumar
Workers Unity Centre

Maya John
Centre For Struggling Women
Ph: 9350272637

Faridabad Update: Impact of nurses’ strike spreads despite intimidation and threats

DESPITE SEVERE HARASSMENT AND BEING MANHANDLED BY BOUNCERS, NURSES CONTINUE TO SIT ON STRIKE
WATER & ELECTRICITY SUPPLY CUT OFF IN THE NURSES’ HOSTEL ACCOMMODATION
IMPACT OF STRIKE SPREADS TO OTHER HOSPITALS

The nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Faridabad and QRG Central Hospital continue to sit on strike for the eighth consecutive day. With each day the harassment by the hospitals’ management escalates. Nevertheless, the nurses continue to sit on strike. Today, bouncers hired by the AIMS management manhandled nurses who were passing by the hospital on the way to their hostel accommodation. When activists from the women’s organization, Centre for Struggling Women (CSW) and Workers’ Unity Centre of India (WUCI) intervened, the bouncers tried to manhandle them too and used filthy, abusive language in order to intimidate the nurses. The local police initially intervened in favour of the bouncers but when accosted with the fact that the road outside the hospital is public property and cannot be regulated by the bouncers, the police accepted the bouncers were harassing the nurses.

Similar tactics of intimidation are being used in the hostels where the nurses reside. Water and electricity supply in the hostels are often cut off, and the nurses are threatened every day to vacate their rooms. Despite the fact that the management of both AIMS and QRG Central have called for negotiation today, intimidation and threats continue in order to force the striking nurses to settle fast. These acts are, hence, in complete violation of the spirit of amicable negotiation and the spirit of collective bargaining.

Unfortunately, even the district administration and labour office is intervening in a manner which reflects their connivance with the hospitals’ management. In the case of QRG Central, the civil court ordered that the peaceful demonstration of the striking nurses be shifted to a distance of 200 meters to an inconspicuous and distant location. Interestingly, the law allows for only 100 meters distance. And in the case of both hospitals, the local officials are preventing the nurses from putting up a tent structure to protect themselves from the heat.

Considering the hostile atmosphere, the nurses of both AIMS and QRG Central hospitals have decided to form a Joint Action Committee (JAC) so as to unite nurses of all the different hospitals in Faridabad. Considering that conditions continue to be grave, the nurses are also considering holding a JOINT PROTEST outside the office of the Deputy Labour Commissioner in Faridabad, and the Union Health Minister. “If the negotiations will not go in favour of the striking nurses then the nurses are thinking of taking out a big rally in Faridabad, and uniting nurses across the board. After all, negotiation doesn’t mean settle for less,” said CSW activist, Maya John. Interestingly, the nurses’ strikes in Faridabad are already impacting the functioning of other private hospitals in the NCR. For example, nurses of Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida have also gone on strike with respect to demands for pay hike, regulated work hours, etc.

Thankamma Ravindran
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Alok Kumar
Workers Unity Centre

Maya John
Centre For Struggling Women
Ph: 9350272637

Faridabad Update: Nurses on Hunger Strike on International Nurses’ Day

NURSES OF PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN FARIDABAD ON WAR PATH, & TAKE OUT A RALLY AROUND FARIDABAD
NURSES of ASIAN HOSPITAL SIT ON HUNGER STRIKE ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL NURSES’ DAY

The nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Faridabad and QRG Central Hospital continue to sit on strike for the sixth consecutive day. Since 6 days have passed and no fruitful negotiation seems in sight, the nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) decided to commemorate International Nurses’ Day by sitting on hunger strike, rather than celebrating the most important day of their profession with fanfare. The striking nurses of AIMS also took out a large rally from outside the hospital to Badhkal Chowk and HUDA Market. By going on hunger strike and taking out such a rally, the nurses’ have tried to expose how the nursing profession is treated in the medical community and society at large. On the hand, the management of both hospitals refuse to negotiate on the nurses’ just demands, although patients are vacating the hostel in panic, leading to huge financial loss. Following their meeting on Nurses’ Day, the nurses of both AIMS and QRG Central hospitals have decided to form a Joint Action Committee (JAC) so as to unite nurses of all the different hospitals in Faridabad. Considering that conditions continue to be grave, the nurses have also started to think along the lines of holding a JOINT PROTEST outside the office of the Deputy Labour Commissioner in Faridabad.

As of now the nurses of AIMS are paid a paltry sum of Rs. 11,000 from which the hospital management cuts PF, etc. Due to this the nurses get only some Rs. 9000 in hand—an amount which is way below the Rs. 42,000 earned by government hospital nurses. In the case of QRG Central hospital, many nurses are getting even less than their colleagues in AIMS (Faridabad). In both hospitals the nurses’ salaries are inflated on paper by including a vague category called Company Total Cost/CTC (which includes PF, gratuity, ESI health-card fee, etc.). The actual salary received in hand/basic salary is, of course, much lower than what is officially declared by the management on paper. In fact, the hospitals conveniently fool hapless nurses into work contracts by projecting higher salaries on paper. When asked to explain the exact functioning of the CTC, management of private hospitals across the board deny any proper explanation.

In Delhi and NCR region where rents are high, such salaries hardly enable the nurses to make ends meet. It is shocking that hospitals which earn huge profits on a yearly basis are unwilling to reward their nursing staff a fair wage and regular salary increments. While addressing the striking nurses, activists from the women’s organization, Centre For Struggling Women (CSW), Workers’ Unity Centre (WUCI), and Nurses Welfare Association encouraged the nurses to stand by their genuine demands like hiking the basic salary released, and paying the nurses salaries which hare in parity with those of government hospital nurses. CSW member also encouraged the nurses to unite the larger nursing community on the demand for a wage-board. The wage board would ensure some regulation of the salaries paid in private hospitals.

The other grave problem highlighted by the striking nurses is the manner in which they are assigned extra duties for which they are not paid adequately. For example, after performing eight hours of duty, the nurses are often forced to perform another 8 hours of duty. Furthermore, the aforementioned private hospitals exercise a skewed nurse-to-patient ratio. In violation of the World Health Organization’s norms, the nurses in Asian Hospital (AIMS) are assigned up to 3 to 4 ICU patients (the WHO recommended ratio being 1 nurse to 1 or 2 ICU patients). And after performing double duties back to back, the nurses do not receive compensation based on given rules on overtime payment. The nurses of QRG Central hospital explained how, in violation with laws pertaining to overtime payment, the management pays them even less than the normal duty’s rate for the additional 6-8 hours shift performed by them.

What is most disturbing is the way in which the issue of the striking nurses are being skirted continuously. For example, despite being intimated of the nurses’ issues, the Deputy Labour Commissioner and Labour Office have failed to intervene. Even after communicating their demands to the Chief Minister, no intervention or probe by the CM’s office has followed, thereby once again exposing the pro-management stance of the Haryana Government. As expected, the local thana has been actively involved in harassing the young nurses, and has forcefully pushed the strikers to from putting up a tent even at a distance of the stipulated 100 meters issued via a court order. Of course, seeing the nurses’ determination to continue their struggle, the Deputy Labour Commissioner’s (DL) office has suddenly swung into force. However, the nurses have complained that the DL has only been verbally threatening them than amicably trying to arbitrate between the two parties. The connivance between the Deputy Labour Commissioner and the management of QRG Central hospital has, in fact, ensured that the striking nurses are forced to sit far away (200 meters distance) from the hospital whereas the rule is generally 100 meters only. This reflects both the state administration and hospital management’s desire to conceal the genuine issues of the nurses from the patients and larger public.

Furthermore, the management of AIMS and QRG Hospital has resorted to several illegal practices like replacing the striking nurses with nursing students who are not qualified to practice, and by making ward attendants perform certain nursing duties like applying injections to sick patients. This measure is not only illegal but also detrimental to the interests of the admitted patients. In addition to this the hospital management of AIMS has also indulged in filthy practices like sending bouncers late at night to the nurses’ hostel on 8th May. Today on 11th morning, again certain senior hospital staff in AIMS forcefully dragged three nurses into the hospital. The three nurses, however, refused to stay and left the hospital shortly to join their striking colleagues. In the evening bouncers hired by the hospital kept encircling the striking nurses in their vehicle. Four of the bouncers again entered the nurses’ hostel on 11th evening and took photographs of the nurses inside the hostel. Worried about their safety and unsure of the extent to which the bouncers will go, the nurses submitted a written complaint at the local police station.

Standing up to the various intimidation tactics of the hospitals’ management, the nurses of both hospitals have decided to continue their strike till all the striking nurses are re-employed. With nothing to lose, the nurses are standing together in unity.

Thankamma Ravindran
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Lailamma Peter
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Alok Kumar
Workers Unity Centre

Maya John
Centre For Struggling Women
Ph: 9350272637

Note: This is an updated version of the release that was published earlier.

Nurses of Faridabad on War Path

NURSES OF FARIDABAD ON WAR PATH
RAMPANT EXPOITATION OF MALYALI NURSES
PRIVATE HOSPITALS INDULGE IN A RANGE OF ILLEGAL PRACTICES

Following a 14 day strike notice, 300 nurses of Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Faridabad have been sitting on strike since 7th May. Down the road, 140 nurses of another private hospital, QRG Central Hospital are also on strike. The majority of these nurses are from far flung parts of Kerela, and have joined the super-speciality hospital in the hope of earning salaries which will help them survive in the city, and also assist them in paying back education loans they have taken to pursue their nursing degrees. Unfortunately, like other private hospitals, Asian Hospital and QRG Central are misusing the nurses’ compulsion to pay off student loans to employ them on the basis of extremely low wages.

As of now the nurses of AIMS are paid a paltry sum of Rs. 11,000 from which the hospital management cuts PF, etc. Due to this the nurses get only some Rs. 9000 in hand—an amount which is way below the Rs. 42,000 earned by government hospital nurses. Ironically, this salary package has been in force since the inception of the hospital, i.e. for two and a half years. The nurses, hence, complained that despite putting in loyal service from the time of the hospital’s inception, their experience and hard work has not led to any pay hike. In the case of QRG Central hospital, many nurses are getting even less than their colleagues in AIMS (Faridabad).

In Delhi and NCR region where rents are high, such salaries hardly enable the nurses to make ends meet. It is shocking that hospitals which earn huge profits on a yearly basis are unwilling to reward their nursing staff a fair wage and regular salary increments. In fact, several private hospitals like AIMS have gone to the extent of deliberately forcing a section of the nurses to join as trainees from the first date of their service. The trainees are then conveniently paid wages as low as Rs 5000, despite the fact that they are fully qualified nurses who do not need to undergo any sort of “apprenticeship/training”. While addressing the striking nurses, activists from the women’s organization, Centre For Struggling Women (CSW), Workers’ Unity Centre (WUCI), and Nurses Welfare Association congratulated the nurses for risking everything and coming out to fight on their demands. The CSW member argued that the nurses’ salaries should be increased regularly on the basis of the hospital’s profit margin, and that a wage-board should be constituted for the nursing occupation. The wage board would ensure some regulation of the salaries paid in private hospitals.

The other grave problem highlighted by the striking nurses is the manner in which they are assigned extra duties for which they are not paid adequately. For example, after performing eight hours of duty, the nurses are often forced to perform another 8 hours of duty. “Imagine what kind of patient-care we can do when we are on our feet for 16 hours straight”, explained one of the striking nurses (who requested anonymity). The management of private hospitals find it easy to arm-twist the nurses for double duties due to the simple fact that nurses are desperate to pay off student loans, and because of the sheer clout private capital exercises in the health sector. With private hospitals outnumbering government ones, the managements of private hospitals find it easy to keep wages low across the board, and to overwork the nurses in the absence of government regulation. With little difference in the wage scales prevalent in private hospitals, most nurses are unable to challenge the adverse conditions of their employment. Furthermore, the aforementioned private hospitals exercise a skewed nurse-to-patient ratio. In violation of the World Health Organization’s norms, the nurses in Asian Hospital (AIMS) are assigned up to 3 to 4 ICU patients (the WHO recommended ratio being 1 nurse to 1 or 2 ICU patients). “And even after performing double duties back to back, we don’t receive adequate compensation,” said another AIMS nurse.

What is most disturbing is the way in which the issue of the striking nurses are being skirted continuously. For example, despite being intimated of the nurses’ issues, the Deputy Labour Commissioner and Labour Office have failed to intervene. Even after communicating their demands to the Chief Minister, no intervention or probe by the CM’s office has followed, thereby once again exposing the pro-management stance of the Haryana Government. As expected, the local thana has been actively involved in harassing the young nurses, and has forcefully pushed the strikers to a distance beyond the stipulated 100 meters issued via a court order. As usual the state machinery is quick to respond to the calls and communiques of the hospitals’ management, and lethargic, if not, aggressively anti the worker when contacted by affected workers.

Furthermore, the management of AIMS has resorted to several illegal practices like replacing the striking nurses with nursing students who are not qualified to practice. This measure is not only illegal but also detrimental to the interests of the admitted patients. In addition to this the hospital management has also indulged in filthy practices like sending bouncers late at night to the nurses’ hostel on 8th May. The authorities have also put up notices with the names of some 70 nurses who are supposed to vacate the hostel with immediate effect. The management has so far suspended 16 nurses and terminated the services of 12. While the management has given a verbal assurance of reinstating the nurses who have been suspended and terminated, it has categorically refused to reemploy 5 nurses on whom they have slapped legal cases. These 5 nurses have been the more active and vocal participants of the struggle. Clearly then, rather than negotiating with the nurses, the Asian Hospital management seems adamant in crushing the legitimate voice of the young Malyali nurses. Meanwhile, the Director of the QRG Central Hospital continues to scoff at the demands for a pay hike by his nursing staff. He has gone on record stating that the nurses behave “like cattle and don’t use their brains” when deciding about whether to sit on strike! As usual he overplayed the role of “outsiders”, whom he claims “misguide the nurses to agitate”.

Standing up to the various intimidation tactics of the hospitals’ management, the nurses of both hospitals have decided to continue their strike till all the striking nurses are re-employed. With nothing to lose, the nurses are standing together in unity.

Thankamma Ravindran
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Lailamma Peter
Delhi Nurses Welfare Association

Alok Kumar
Workers Unity Centre

Maya John
Centre For Struggling Women
Ph: 9350272637