Workers’ Strike Resumes at Maruti-Suzuki's Manesar Plant

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 8 Oct 2011  

Rejoicing in the victory, which the employers at Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) had succeeded to corner, by suffocating the workers’ struggle at its Manesar plant, with the aid of opportunist Trade Union combine of HMS-AITUC-CITU, suddenly finds its reversal in less than two weeks.
Yesterday, on Oct.7, workers again went on a flash strike, against betrayal and excesses of management.

After a 33 days struggle and unrest in the Manesar plant of MSI, workers had resumed duties on last Monday, pursuant to a settlement on Oct.1, highly favourable to the management. Settlement stipulated that workers would sign a ‘good conduct bond’, would be deprived of salary for 33 days following ‘no-work, no-pay’ principle, those suspended would face domestic inquiries etc. Only thing workers could get out of the settlement was that the casual workers would be reinstated on duty forthwith.

On Oct.7, the management once again locked out the casual workers on the pretext that they would be permitted later, only after the production takes off fully. This was in apparent violation of the settlement, which stipulated that casual workers would not be locked out.

After violating the agreement by locking out the casual workers, which leans highly in favour of management, and is fallout of the betrayal of workers at the hands of Stalinists and opportunist Trade Unionists, the management started accusing workers of the violation. Management described the actions of the workers as a breach of faith. "This action by the workers clearly violates the agreement that they themselves had signed with the management on October 1, in the presence of Haryana Government. It is a breach of faith." The company said the casual workers would be absorbed once production increased. "That is a non issue. We are gradually ramping up our production at Manesar, including our new 2.5-lakh capacity Manesar II assembly plant”.

As casual workers protested against the arbitrary high-handedness of the management, the management called the labour contractors who in turn called hired bouncers there. As the bouncers started to manhandle the workers, scuffle broke out and other workers also gathered there in support of casual workers.

Against the excess of management in locking out the casual workers and attacking workers through bouncers, workers went on a flash strike immediately, stalling work at Manesar Plant, once again, in the second shift starting at 4 pm.

As the news of this incident spread through the region, the workers at Suzuki Powertrain and Suzuki Casting also went on solidarity strike, which was later joined by Suzuki Motorcycles India. All these three are the subsidiaries of Suzuki Motor Corporation, which owns a majority stake of 54.2% in Manesar plant also. Workers in these factories have carried out two days strike action in solidarity with the MSI workers on 14 Sept also. The HMS-AITUC leaders played a treachery on behest of the management in persuading the workers in these subsidiaries to end the strike action earlier, on the assurance that MSI management was ready to concede to demands of workers. A new and salutory development, this time is that the workers from other factories- Lumax Auto Technologies Ltd, Satyam Auto Components Ltd, Endurance Technologies Ltd, and Hi-Lex India Pvt Ltd. which make components accessories for automobiles, have also gone on strike in solidarity with the struggle of Maruti Suzuki workers.

Before this, workers at Manesar plant have also gone on a 13 days long strike, from 4th to 17th June, demanding registration of their Trade Union- ‘Maruti Suzuki Employees Union’ (MSEU). Haryana Government in derogation of law has assured the management of MSI that it would not permit the Union to get registration at any cost. This 13 day strike resulted in loss of production of 12,600 cars, coming to Rs. 500 crore overall loss to the management. Similarly, the recent 33 days strike has put the MSI to net losses crossing in rough estimates over 1400 crores, with its sales plunging to 21% down.

Gurgaon-Manesar Industrial belt is home to more than half of the total production of automobiles- cars and bikes, in India. Manesar plant alone produces around 1500 cars a day.
Learning from their experience, workers are distancing themselves from the opportunist Stalinist and Trade Unionists. They have resumed the present strike on Oct 7, even without deliberating with these leaders or caring for their advice, who really betrayed them and led them into the shameful settlement on Oct.1.

Fact is that workers have realised that the settlement of Oct.1 is a pro-management instrument to oppress the workers, imposed upon them against their will through the intrigue played upon them by the opportunist trade unionists. Workers are thus not ready to accept and execute this shameful settlement, and rightly so. Workers at Manesar plant are in a mood to settle the issues through struggle and demonstration of their real strength through it. It is obvious that settlement of Oct.1, does not commensurate to the fighting spirit of the workers, rather to the treachery of the opportunist Trade Union leaders, educated and trained in schools of Stalinism and social-democracy.

Solidarity among the workers aimed at spreading the struggle further, not only against the MSI management, but for a struggle of whole working class against the neo-liberal regime of capitalists, supervised by their governments, is the task which must be addressed by the striking workers. To do this, working class has to first detach itself from opportunist Trade Unionists and Stalinists, come out of their poisonous influence and arm itself with a revolutionary program- the program of the fourth international, the program of permanent revolution.

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