Struggle in Maruti-Suzuki at Manesar and the WSP

-Rajesh Tyagi/ 11.11.2012
Two day protest dharna on 7-8 November, organised by the 546 dismissed workers of Maruti-Suzuki at Manesar, under the banner of now defunct trade union, Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU), failed to make any dent, as the pro-corporate media ignored it and its Centrist-Stalinist leaders isolated the action, consciously. 

Giving no weight to the protest, Maruti-Suzuki India Ltd. announced that it is gearing up to increase production. “Production is normal at Manesar. By December, we plan to roll out 1,950 cars per day, compared to the 1,700 units we produced in July,” said a company executive.
At present 4000 workers are employed in the Manesar plant, which company is planning to increase to more than 6000, recruiting about 500 per month.
Earlier, Maruti Suzuki had cut by a third its regular workforce and dismissed 546 employees in connection with the violent labour unrest at its Manesar facility on July 18, out of which more than 160 are still languishing in jail.
Workers had been conducting struggle against the sweat shop working conditions and total absence of minimum trade union rights, since 2009, inside the Manesar plant. The month long strike in 2011, had resulted in production loss of 77,000 units to the company. Entering into a blind alley in face of determination of the workers to a spontaneous strike action in 2011, the management had smothered the struggle through outright purchase of the trade union leaders in 2011.
After the whole leadership of MSWU, headed by Sonu Gujjar, had betrayed the struggle, receiving hefty bribes from the company, the company had started to virtually pulverise the workers inside the Manesar plant. The result was a clash on 18th July 2012, between workers and the ‘bouncers’ appointed by the management, resulting in arson inside the plant, death of an official and injuries to many.
The trade union bureaucracies under Social-Democrats (HMS), Centrists (NTUI), Stalinists (CITU-AITUC) and Maoists (AICCTU, IFTU etc), took no time in condemning the ‘violence’ terming the same as ‘unfortunate’ or a ‘wrong turn’ to the ‘peaceful’ struggle.

Immediately after the incident, on 20th July, the Deputy Commissioner of the city called a meeting of trade union leaders to pacify the nerves of workers, preventing them from starting a broad solidarity action in support of the Maruti Workers.The trade unions affiliated to Social-Democrats, Centrists, Stalinists and Maoists of many hues, not only obediently came in attendance, but pledged support to all efforts aimed at “industrial peace”. These trade union leaders forthwith intervened to prevent the workers at other plants in Manesar, from starting a strike action. This emboldened the pro-corporate state to unleash a reign of repression against the struggling workers. The police immediately arrested more than 100 workers who had been most active in the struggle and started a blind hunt to rope in others. While the trade union leaders held back the Maruti workers to fight back and other sections of workers from coming to their aid, the police registered false cases against the workers, continued to arrest them and subjected them to most brutal torture, as is described in a later investigation by the PUDR team.  With the implicit collaboration of these trade union leaders, police thus succeeded in imposing savage terror.
To further isolate the dismissed workers, the trade unions have facilitated the signing of a separate wage settlement with the management in September this year, stipulating historic increase in monthly salaries upto Rs. 14,800/-, and regularisation of 1870 contract/ casual workers. What is being done to meet the imperatives of future increase in production, would be used as a tool to isolate the dismissed and arrested workers.

To keep the movement under their grip and hold back the workers under their control, these capitulationists, covert servants of the capital, have forged an alliance among themselves into a 'unity forum' that includes 14 such trade unions affiliated with different stalinist-maoist-centrist parties and groups. The task of this forum is to keep the workers at Maruti within confines of legal action and insulate them from influence of revolutionary idea of initiating a class action against their class enemies.

Arrest of around 160 workers on fake charges of conspiracy, arson and murder had presented itself as a great opportunity for opening a huge political offensive against the Congress government in Haryana and at Centre. Bare fact, that majority of those arrested included the workers having roots in agrarian communities in surrounding villages of Manesar, cutting across the caste divides of dalit-jat-gujjar, the divide upon which rests the critical built-up of bourgeois politics in Haryana, was a ready bastion for united class action of workers and peasants against the corpoarte state and bourgeois parties. But the trade union leaders, those compromisers, pushed the workers into blind alley of 'peaceful and legal demands'. 

Shamelessly opposing the proposal of activists of WSP for giving clarion call to the workers in Manesar and all over Haryana, for a indefinite general strike against the state government, these trade union bureaucrats, misled the workers towards alleged ‘peaceful’ means of sloganeering outside the Haryana Bhawan at New Delhi, representations to state authorities, sending fact-finding teams, legal action in courts etc.
While outrightly rejecting the idea to support the two day protest dharna of Maruti workers, Union leaders at the Gurgaon plant of Maruti-Suzuki, Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU), have indicated they would render limited support to protest rally on Thursday, as expression of ‘solidarity’. “We will not participate in the hunger strike but will support the rally on Thursday”, said Kuldeep Jhangu, general secretary of MUKU.
Trade union leaders have actively assisted the management, since very beginning of the struggle, in failing the workers’ struggle, by inducing divisions among the workers and thereby isolating the struggling workers. Firstly, they isolated the striking workers at Manesar plant preventing other sections of workers from coming to their aid. Then they divided the regular and contract/casual workers inside the plant. Then they isolated the dismissed workers from those who were still working. And lastly they isolated those who are under arrest, by cleverly restricting the demand for reinstatement only for those who are not implicated in criminal cases.  “We want the reinstatement of all colleagues not charged by the special investigation team (SIT) and a proper and unbiased inquiry into the incident,” said Om Prakash, a member of HMS. Demand for a ‘proper and unbiased inquiry’ is yet another tool for reposing the faith in legitimacy of the openly pro-corporate state.
Workers at Maruti-Suzuki, despite all of their sincere wishes and best efforts, cannot win the struggle against the united might of corporates and the state under them, through their efforts alone. The struggling workers must join hands with their class brethren to launch a real and broad offensive against the combined might of corporate and the state.
Our Party- Workers' Socialist Party (WSP) calls upon the workers to first break away from the trade union bureaucracies and their false and opportunist leaders and turn to our Party, the only party of revolutionary marxism. Most militant of them must organise themselves in ‘action committees’ to head the struggle. These committees must be developed gradually into soviets of workers. The struggle at Maruti-Suzuki, and for that matter every serious conflict between workers and corporates, must be made a spearhead of a revolutionary offensive against the capitalist class and its political rule. Every such conflict must be looked upon as a conflagration having potential to lead to a real revolution, through dragging of working class to the whirlpool of political struggle.

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