Maruti Suzuki: Workers’ Side of the Story

Workers of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar plant speak up about the events of 18th July 2012, and the repression that they have been facing since then. These workers were amongst the 500 permanent workers who were terminated in the aftermath of the fire.

The workers addressed a convention on 7th September organised by AICCTU and AISA.

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.

Blind workers demonstrate for their rights

BLIND WORKERS GHERAO MINISTRY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE & EMPOWERMENT
WORKERS PRESS MINISTRY TO HONOUR ITS APRIL 2012 ASSURANCE OF PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE EMPLOYMENT

Today, a large number of blind workers collected outside the residence of the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Mukul Wasnik. These workers have been meeting the concerned Minister, as well as officials in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on several occasions since November 2011. On April 24, 2012, the troubled workers were given an assurance by the Minister that all the blind workers retrenched by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) in 2011 will be provided alternative employment at the government sponsored NGO, Arunim. However, more than four months down the line, the Minister and Social Justice Ministry are still to honour their assurances. Due to the absence of the minister the blind workers were unable to meet the Minister and took out a march to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment here at Shastri Bhawan.

It is to be noted that since November of 2011, the blind workers have been protesting the retrenchment of several blind workers by the NFB. This NGO retrenched the workers because they were speaking out against denial of minimum wages and other basic labour rights in the Training and Rehabilitation Centres (TRCs) run by the NGO. However, the struggle of the workers is not just against the NFB, but also against the overall exploitation of blind workers across the country by private companies and NGOs. Blind workers have been arguing that in the interest of availing of certain benefits like tax exemption the private sector employs persons with disability, but goes on to exploit them brutally. Arbitrary hiring and firing practices, unregulated working hours, payment of wages which are often below the minimum wage rate, etc. are some of the exploitative practices which prevail in the private sector. All these amount to a serious breach of social justice, which is why the bind workers have been continuously approaching the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

More importantly, the workers realize that the failure of successive governments to provide adequate employment to the blind community is the main reason why blind workers are dependent on the highly exploitative private sector. For disabled working class persons who are either unemployed or stuck in highly exploitative private sector jobs, the Government’s decision to sub-let its responsibilities of providing tangible livelihood to NGOs, private companies, etc. is an extremely skewed policy approach. Thus, the blind workers’ struggle is based on the fundamental right to a livelihood—a right the Government is to protect and uphold.

During their Dharna at Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment a delegation met Mr. Pankaj Joshi, Joint Secretary, Disability Department and apprised him of their concerns. A memorandum was submitted to him for his consideration. The three specific demands that the workers are raised with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment include:

(i) That since the Ministry has failed to curb the blatant violation of labour rights by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), it should ensure that all the disabled workers employed by NFB be provided alternative employment by the Government with immediate effect.
(ii) Inclusion of a special section in the long pending Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011), which would safeguard the economic rights of blind workers employed in the private sector. For example, the Bill should include provisions to the effect that bodies violating basic labour rights will be penalized to the effect that NGOs indulging in such violation will face the cancellation of their registration.
(iii) That the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment tables a concrete plan of greater job creation for blind persons in the public sector. It is only with the provision of more government jobs that the dependence of blind workers on exploitative private companies and corrupt NGOs can be overcome.

After listening to their demands Mr. Pankaj Joshi assured that they will be given employment through some government agency or the Ministry will help in establishment of a cooperative society. Another major victory for the movement is that the Ministry has also conceded inclusion of a provision in the Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011) where NGOs employing disabled persons will be penalized if they violate the labour laws and the grants to such NGOs from Ministry will also be stopped.

Not taking it as their final victory the blind workers resolved to fight till the government does not take its responsibility of providing employment to all disabled persons so that they do not remain exploited and harassed by “welfare” NGOs and private sector.

Alok Kumar
Ramnath

Blind Workers Union
(A Unit of All India Federation of Blind Workers)
T-44, Panjabi Basti, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008
Contact: 9313730069 Email: blindworkersunion@gmail.com

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

An interview with workers at FIAT, 1970

Three Workers from FIAT Mirafiori describe the experiences of the Southern immigrant coming to work in the industrial cities of the North. The conversation was recorded in Turin during December 1970.

Q. It was only after the summer of 1969 that people in Britain began to hear of the struggles at FIAT. Was there a tradition of struggle before the middle of 1969, or were these clashes the beginning of the revolutionary movement of FIAT?

LUIGI: You mean was it that they broke the lethargy of the last 20 years here? ‘Yes, it was. Of course, there were struggles before this time, but all were dominated by the Unions. And they were struggles that came around at fixed intervals when the unions set them. So every two or three years, when the contracts were about to expire, we would have the classic sort of struggle you know, two or three days of strikes, all kept within union channels, and then the boss’s repression would begin all over again. And the little politicization achieved through those two or three days would be blocked for the next three years of boss’s rule.

But then, in about 1966, the immigrants from the South began to arrive. And the whole social situation in Turin blew up, what with (the shortage of housing, lightning price increases, building speculation and so on, All of a sudden there were l0 to 15 thousand people arriving in the city, and quite apart from the way the Prices rocketed. there were not the facilities to cope with them.

Q. When did the three of you arrive in FIAT?

LUIGI: These two are young. For my part, I’ve been at FIAT for twenty years. This lot is the new generation who’ve broken with everything that we’ve become used to.

TONI: I’ve been here for two years and I joined FIAT right at the time that the struggles started.

Q. When you two arrived in Turin, what was it like for you?

N1NO: I’ve been here for a couple of years now. For most of the time I’ve worked in small places you know, sweatshops, always inside Turin, and then I was taken on at FIAT, in the beginning I didn’t know anything about anything. But the political work there was already well underway, and there were students doing leafleting at the factory, explaining a few things to people, like what the union was all about. Then we had that whole big explosion during 1969. Everything went up. Boom!

TONI: I’d never seen anything like this in all my life. Because, as you know, I come from Calabria and my town’s a pretty small place. It’s ruled by God, you might say: Three or four priests, who were all a bunch of shits, brought us up to be boy scouts and the like, and told us all about what they thought democracy was. Then there were the four or five Communists and the seven or eight fascists, and that’s it. Really Calabria is still a region that’s in the hands of the counts and barons that ran the place in the time of Mussolini, and who did very well out of him, what with their power, their villas, and so on. That’s the way Calabria is.

Anyway, down there, even if I only had 50 lire I could always buy myself a cheese roll or something. But I come up to Turin and fuck it: I find I’m paying out 200! It was all crazy to me. Then I began to pick up on the politics that Lotta Continua were into. At first, you know, I really didn’t understand too much, I used to read their leaflets, but only in a sort of informative way, so as to know what they were saying. One day one of the student comrades from Lotta Continua hunted me out and began talking to me. He really attacked me because I was still in the union. Before I worked at FIAT I’d worked for a few months at other little factories, and all that I’d heard was that the unions were there to defend the workers. Of course, down in Calabria we don’t even know what a union is; people don’t know that they exist! But gradually I began to understand what they really are. There are so many things I’ve learned that I didn’t know before, and I hope to be able to pass them on to all my workmates in the factory, and help them understand for themselves what I’ve learned.

At the beginning, when we were few, we started our struggles going round the factory in huge processions that you would think were never going to end. We used to call them “Snakes”. One time there were three hours of official union strike called. This was about the time that all the big strikes were happening, in autumn 1969. A few of us got together with other militants and asked ourselves what we were going to do. We decided that the best thing would be to have a Snake a big march round the factory, pulling out everyone we could. So there we were, with the three-hour union strike, and the two of us got together with five or six other comrades and contacted a few people from Lotta Continua. Then we set off; just the seven of us. And by the time we got to the head offices where all the staff hung out, there were about seven thousand of us! Bloody beautiful it was. The staff were all looking out of the windows, and saw us down below. They didn’t know what to do. And the few guards on the doors were terrified. It was beautiful .Now when the next lot of contracts comes along, well, this year we started with seven of us and ended up with seven thousand. Next time we’ll start with seven thousand and end up with seventy thousand, and that’ll be the end of FIAT. Goodbye, Agnelli.

There’s another time that I remember was really fine. We’d been in and out on strikes for a couple of days, and then we were having one of those marches inside the factory. And people started saying: ‘Let’s kick out the supervisors, they’ve been around giving orders for about a hundred years now, and we’ve had enough!” So we went down and started muting them out. People were looking at them, jeering, spitting on them, and they looked back as if they wanted to kill us, but there wasn’t a thing they could do. They just didn’t know what was happening. There’s them who’ve worked their asses off to become supervisors, and there we were treating them like shit.

LUIGI: It was these young people who began the fight, spontaneously and we logically found that this was a sort of alternative to the usual Union struggles, an alternative which went along with the contacts growing at the same time with the students. As you know, from 1967 the university movement joined up with the struggles of the workers.

Q. What has been the relationship between the revolutionary workers and the militants from the student movement?

LUIGI: It’s been a sort of team effort really, them outside and us inside. At the start we would work on all the antagonisms inside the factory, using them as a lever. For example, say FIAT hadn’t provided some work clothes. We would kick up a fuss, and the students would support us from the outside with loud hailers, gate meetings, leaflets, big posters, and so on.

Usually what we do is find out the facts of the situation, write them out in rough form, and give them to the external militants to print because they’re good at that sort of thing and they have more time than we do to work right through the night. We hope that later on we shall begin to do the leaflets ourselves, and already we are starting to do more of the work like typing and so on, as well as some of the distribution outside the gates. Once upon a time it was the ex-students that held the leading role in Lotta Continua, and we were the ones that carried out programs. Now we are beginning to take the leadership. There’s a bit of confusion about this at the present, as to whether we should have the leadership of the organization, because they still control a lot of the apparatus, like the national newspaper, the duplicators, poster printing facilities, and so on. However I’d say that by now there’s really joint leadership.

Q. So you can really say that the new wave of struggle arrived with the immigrants and the students?

LUIGI: Yes. Italian students understood very early on, first with the Movimento Studentesco (Student Movement), and then with the ultra-left groups, that the only way they could expect to have any life at all was by allying themselves with the struggles of the workers. So that was really how it all started. Apart from very early factory leafleting in isolated areas, like Pisa from 1964, it was in 1967 that the really massive work began in front of the factory gates. And this was exactly when all the new workers began to be signed on, all the workers from the South, cut off from their own roots who had burned their bridges behind them and come here to Turin to find themselves without houses fit to live in, with sky-high prices and so on. Add to that the students outside, who were focusing on these problems, pushing them toward eruption, and of course everything exploded. But it exploded in ways that were sometimes very disorganized, very unconnected, sometimes a real mess.

Now the spontaneous struggles are over. I’m convinced of it. Now, when the struggles start again, they’re going to have to be struggles for organization. Last year we were fighting seven or eight at a time, limited to single shops, all of us at Mirafiori linked through Lotta Continua because we’d had enough of the unions. But now we’re moving toward a situation in which we’ll have the factory coordinated shop by shop. When we decide at a certain point to launch a strike, we’ll start with an assembly in one shop, say Shop 55. Then we’ll begin the roundup, setting off in a Snake toward, say, the Varnish Shop, before we used to waste two or three hours getting everyone together. And by that time, as we were going round collecting the comrades, the anger would somehow melt away. To coordinate the struggle inside the factory means that when we decide on a Snake, it no longer takes half an hour to get it moving. Every group, every shop moves together. And when we start, we can come to a certain point where we can decide on what objective we are going to be heading for. We can decide to leave the factory grounds and tie up with other area factories, radicalizing the struggle outside the factory so as to involve other places.

Q. What has been the role of the unions during these struggles?

LUIGI: The unions are there to make sure that workers are kept inside the system, and have less possibility of beginning to challenge it. The unions are the political extensions of the sicknesses that exist inside the government; the “long arm inside the factories” of political parties. Every group, every political party has a little hand inside the factory. The Christian Democrats have CISL, the Communists have the CGIL, SIDA are the Fascists, UIL is the Social Democrats, even some Republicans. . . every one of them has a certain presence inside the factory to control the situation. Now a lot of workers understand this. However they don’t as yet have an alternative. Inside FIAT the unions don’t count for anything, and everyone’s well aware of where they stand. But at the moment they are the only organization with a voice, they are the only ones that can say anything when it comes to dealing with management. So what’s really necessary at the moment is that we begin to create inside the factory agitational nuclei, or revolutionary committees, that are so strong and so well-rooted among the workers that they are an alternative to the internal commissions and the delegates that the unions have set up. Thus we can begin to create a point of reference in the factory to which the less politicized workers can look, so that they can escape from the control of the unions, can talk together, and can politicize themselves further. That is exactly what we’re engaged in at the moment: to form nuclei, to come to some agreement among ourselves, to study and understand the situation, and to provide inside the factory a focal point. These agitational nuclei are composed of normal workers inside the factory, but the best of them, the activists. It must be said that these nuclei are being formed not only from members of Lotta Continua, but also from workers who are not members but who have understood this need and who come along with us because of that.

Q. What are your aims with these agitational nuclei inside of the factories?

LUIGI: With the nuclei and with the revolutionary committees if we manage to create them, we are trying, not to be another union, but to provide a political, revolutionary perspective for the workers. We must not fall into economism, into parochialism. We must not say “Look, we must fight for five lire more, or for ten lire more, or to work one or two hours less.” We are fighting and of course we are not going to achieve it tomorrow, for power, because the working class without power isn’t worth a thing. Of course we won’t dissociate ourselves from the economic struggles, because for most workers the economic struggles are the beginning. However, the economic struggles must go hand in hand with a revolutionary development of understanding, of politicization, of awareness on the part of the mass of workers. Only then can we hope for the taking of power, because that’s what we’re aiming at. The point is to take the factory, because it’s the factory that creates value, and it’s us that should have it, and not them.

Courtesy: RADICAL AMERICA, Vol 5 No 5, Sep-Oct 1971

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

FIAT has branded me (An interview with a Fiat Worker, 1979)

Giampaolo Pansa
Translated by Lawrence Venuti

Giampaola Pansa, well-known for his interviews with Italian workers, talks here to a Fiat worker from the Mirafiori plant In Torino who was among the group of 61 workers fired on Tuesday October 9, 1979. This interview appeared in La Republica 3 days later. It was first published in English in Autonomia: Post-Political Politics, New York (1980), edited by Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi. We find this interview relevant for the ongoing discussions on growing working class militancy in India, especially in the context of recent workers struggles in Maruti Suzuki.

You have heard a foreman from Mirafiori vent himself. Now listen to me. I too come from Mirafiori and I am among the sixty-one workers fired by Fiat. Until Tuesday I worked in the painting department. I was a general worker at the third level. According to Fiat, I was also a violent worker, a quasi-terrorist, one who assists the Red Brigades: this is the mark that Agnelli is trying to brand on my forehead.

I must start at the beginning so you can understand the situation. I shall be 29 in November. I am from the province of Catanzaro, from a small village that offers no opportunities. We emigrate from there in droves. Before leaving, I attended secondary school and then took a technical course. But school was not for me. I subsequently decided to go and look for work in the north, at Turin.

I left my village In January of ’69, having just turned 18. I had never been outside it. Turin frightened me – its huge size, its ugliness, the clouds and the snow. I asked myself: where have you come? I found a job in a real hole, a small factory, but I lasted only 10 days there, I couldn’t take it much longer. Then I found another job. Things were going better there, yet I thought only of Fiat. I said to myself: Fiat Is a big company, you’ll be secure there; If you get into Fiat, you’ll never wind up out on your ass.

I entered Fiat on 28 May 1969 as an apprentice in the painting department. The apprenticeship was supposed to last 6 months, but it ended much sooner. The trouble in July of ’69 had already erupted; Fiat needed people who could start working at once, in order to fill the gaps left by those who were on strike or who sympathized with them. And so I went right on the assembly line immediately after the vacations.

At the beginning the painting department was horrible. I worked as if in the middle of a cloud, amid strange odors and terrible smells of every kind. It was an infernal scenario. Yet after a little while, even with these noxious fumes, I started to like the job. Painting cars is not a monotonous task. What I was learning could help later on. And then I always tried to work with my head too: I tried to do my job well. But also preserve my health. In short, I was rather satisfied.

It was autumn and still hot outside. I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t know anything about what was happening around me and then there was my mother’s advice: think about work and keep to yourself. Only in 1970 did I start to get a little involved. No, it wasn’t political activity at all, and it didn’t even have anything to do with the union. I concerned myself with the problem of the working conditions in the painting department. The situation was disastrous and I even felt the effects of it. I lost eight teeth. And then there was the nausea, the duodenal ulcer, the impaired hearing.

In a word, I was provoked when I saw that I was paying for my job at Fiat with my skin. But it was not an individual rebellion, nor was I interested in raising hell for its own sake. It was a collective rebellion by nearly the entire shop. We asked Fiat to alter the situation and Fiat answered no.

Anyhow, in that year I joined the union and then I had an important encounter with Lotta Continua. I had been fined since I had not completed the assigned work precisely because of the working conditions. I went out through the gates and showed these conditions to some of the people who were always there with newspapers and flyers. They told me: Come with us and we’ll talk about it.

Now Lotta Continua no longer exists as a group. And I am nostalgic for it, even if I do not feel that I am a former member. For me it was a great experience, political and human. I learned about things, I met exceptional people whom I would have never met otherwise. Lotta Continua had one great merit: it made you intellectually open to other people, it let them speak, it let them discuss…

I am not a popular leader. I’m a quiet man. You know what they call me in the painting department? “The priest,” “the good guy.” But from the first moment of my involvement with that political group, Fiat must have classified me as “a lottacontinua” and that was it. In my opinion, they have put me out because of that label, because of my political activity when the group existed. But this is a chapter to which we shall return later.

Now I want to say that in those first eight to nine months I was a Fiat worker like the others, and I was occasionally better than the others. My absences were few. In short, I have always done my share, as an electrical technician until 1977 and then in preventive overhaul, where the car is prepared for painting. I considered myself good on the job and my foremen have always considered me so.

In the meantime, the working conditions had improved and my duties became less oppressive and repetitive. Nonetheless, I had also grown bored. Lotta Continua was no longer there and Turin haunted me. The huge city never pleased me, but now I was really aching and I wanted to leave it. My dream was to go and work for Fiat abroad. And for two months they did send me away, to a branch office in Germany. When I returned, I renewed my request. In fact, I had recently done so with Varetto, the manager shot by the Red Brigades. And when the foreman brought me to the front office on Tuesday, I believed that they had heard my request. Instead they dealt me the letter of dismissal.

That letter brands me as violent. But I deny it! Of course, my strikes for a change in working conditions made them do it. And I have given some trouble to Fiat, but so have many others. Between ’74 and ’75, I was a union delegate and I did what was within my power. And even if I am not at all an orator, I have never laid back when there was some working method to be discussed with the foremen.

Take note of this: I said working method, not work. I do not refuse work. I am a born worker, and I must work, but not as a slave. And I am also convinced that it is necessary to work well; if you don’t do your job well, you make more work for the people who come after you on the chain. I have never swerved from this position with those of my co-workers who act badly. I say: if you do only a little work, at least do it well. And do a little work so it’ll all get done. This is one of the Fiat workers’ slogans.

What does a little work mean? Today we work for seven and a half hours a day. It’s too much. It must be seven hours a day, five days a week, or thirty-five hours. No more, if the working hours are not changed, the unemployed will stay that way. I have always maintained this point of view. I have always tried to put it into practice. I have even discussed it with my foremen, but without ever being reprimanded or quarrelling or resorting to violence.

Yes, there is much talk about violence against the foremen, I would like for the newspapers also to speak of the violence of the assembly line, which moves much too quickly. And isn’t it violence when certain foremen put their hands on the asses of the newly hired boys? Where, at any rate, are these acts of violence against the foremen? Of course, there have been moments of tension during contract negotiations. And many workers see the foreman as their immediate opponent. Sometimes the men are short-tempered: to be in a factory is hard on everyone.

Still, I have never done any violence. I have always been in the same work group. My foreman thinks highly of me. He gave me a pen as a gift. He has even invited me to his home. Do you invite to your home a violent man who threatens you? Tuesday, he was the first one to be struck with amazement. Ever since Lotta Continua dissolved, I have become completely peaceful. Moreover, someone who tries to raise hell for its own sake or who acts as the terrorist’s assistant doesn’t ask to go abroad; he stays here to threaten and to play the violent man.

Why then have they fired me? This is my answer. Fiat knows everything about its workers – their lives, deaths, miracles. I am a politicized worker. I have always tried to involve my co-workers in labor problems, with working conditions and rhythms. I used to go to contract negotiations, to talk, discuss. In a word, I used to make trouble. So they’ve pulled out their old lists: there I was on the list for Lotta Continua and so they’ve thrown me out.

I am evidence that Fiat is a terrorist organization. By eliminating people like me, Fiat wants to eliminate those who can speak on behalf of the others, those who do not bow their heads. And then there must be a grander design: once the “ball breakers” are eliminated, it will be easier to return to the past, to increase production more and more, to make people understand that only Fiat controls Mirafiori and that the workers must give up the idea of getting their rights.

But since the bosses at Fiat cannot say this, they make us pass for para-terrorists. It’s a lie. I do not agree with the Red Brigades, they are not the kind of people who can protect our interests. I have never considered delegating my representation to those who use weapons. And I do not believe that in Italy things can be changed by shooting people.

Yet I am also convinced that there is much too little discussion of terrorism among the workers. There is great indifference at Fiat. When they killed Ghiglieno, there was hardly any reaction in the shops. The other incidents have been received in the same way. The workers consider them material for the newspapers at this point. On the contrary, it is necessary to discuss and ask oneself why the Red Brigades shoot certain people and not others.

Of course, the Red Brigades don’t shoot only foremen. You remind me of Rossa, a worker like myself. What do I think of him? Well, I don’t know… What if I discovered that one of my co-workers was a brigatista? That’s a difficult question! It’s a big problem. No I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t want to play spy on anyone’s account… In any case, the Red Brigades are inside Fiat, but I don’t know them and I’m not one of them…

You say that my answers show it’s a little hard for me to talk about terrorism. It will be so, but there’s a reason for it. I have always been distrustful. Now that I’ve been fired by Fiat, I’m even more so. Your questions about terrorism, about denunciations, and so forth, seem to me a little provocatory….

However, I’m not the only one who talks about terrorism in this way. It’s a thorny problem, too thorny. Everyone has become distrustful. Take a short walk through the streets of Turin, ask people the questions you’ve asked me, and you’ll see disbanded, I no longer want to take part in anything. I’m only concerned about my ass. I hoped to go abroad, to decide whether I would marry or not, and instead this thing happened to me…

I’m disheartened and I feel persecuted. And then there’s one last thing I want to say to you. Just as I am nostalgic for Lotta Continua, so am I nostalgic for Fiat. I’m an emigrant; Fiat was my home for ten years. It seems unjust to me that they should chase me from my home. I have only one hope: that the unions, that all those who call themselves democratic, don’t give in.

I don’t hope this only to save my job. There is also a political reason for it, if the unions weaken, the Red Brigades and Front Line (Prima Linea) will be able to say: Do you see? No one protects the working class any more. The only ones left are we and our guns.

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)