After Betrayed by the Trade Union Bureaucracy dominated by the Stalinists: Honda Workers Once Again take to the Path of Struggle!

-Our Correspondent/ Gurgaon/ 20.10.2009

The workers of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) are once again on the path of struggle demanding wage revision and the right to organise the Labour Union.

After the violent repression of the strike at HMSI, at the hands of the police, acting upon behest of employers, rocked Gurgaon in 2005, the workers movement seems to have rejuvenated in this plant.

In 2005, after brutal police repression, in which dozens of workers, including women workers, were badly injured, workers were forced to retreat. The Trade Union bureaucracy dominated by Stalinist CPI-CPM then openly betrayed the workers. It continued to support the Government of the Congress at centre while its government in Haryana had ordered the police violence. The workers were then forced to sign a long-term agreement with the employers in 2006, with concurrence of the Stalinist CPI and its Trade Union Front, AITUC.

The agreement has expired this July. The workers demanded re-negotiating the terms and conditions of work, which employers had been evading on different pretexts. The workers have thus started their agitation against the employers.

HMSI has so far invested Rs 1,000 crore in this plant, with an annual capacity to produce 10 lakh units, which it has planned to increase to 15 lakh units in the next three years. Due to the strike by the workers, the production has come down to half of its daily capacity of 4,200 units, within two months of workers’ agitation.

The employers had been threatening the workers to shut down the plant or shift the same to some other place, in case agitation continues.

"Our production has come down to 50% in the last two months due to the go-slow strike by workers. No company can go on like this forever. We have requested the state authorities for help. In case things don't improve, we will have no option but to shut the operations (at Manesar) and look for a more conducive place to do business," HMSI vice president (general affairs) Mohan Deepak said, adding that “Honda won't shy away from moving out in case things don't improve”.

It seems, however, that failing to deceive the workers in the name of inviability of the enterprise, the employers may once again resort to force, coercion and violence, through legal as well as illegal means.

"With the situation that we face now, we have to rethink; but we expect the government to intervene and bring a solution," Mohan Deepak said.

Boasting of its backing by the Government, Courts and Law, Deepak said, “the company has also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking to direct the workers' union not to disrupt normal production, and prosecute those who have violated law. The matter will come up for hearing next week”.

The workers however maintained that the management itself wants to shut down the plant for some time as it is finding it hard to get the components supply due to strike in supplier companies. “Production at our factory is low but it is not that we are on strike or we are going slow. The on-going labour strike in Rico, Sunbeam and other ancillary companies have led to drop in component supplies," one of the workers told.

HMSI Employees Union president Ashok Yadav, denied that the workers were on strike, and said the decline in production was due to non-availability of components as workers in some of the supplying factories were on strike.

It is noteworthy, that earlier this year, its sister concern ‘Honda Siel Power Products Ltd.’ had shifted its plant from Rudrapur in Uttarakhand to Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, adjacent to Delhi, after exhausting all subsidies, concessions, rebates etc. in Rudrapur, and seeking immense profits in Noida SEZ.

HMSI currently has 1,872 regular workers and another 2,500 on contract. All these workers are fighting for wage revision and better working conditions inside the plant, above all the recognition of their right to organise in Trade Union. The struggle seems to be ensuing once again in the plant. Honda workers are one among the major plants which have lent support to the strike action of the Rico Auto workers on 20 October 2009.

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