Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1


Ratings: (0)|Views: 6|Likes:
Published by darrell1989

More info:

Published by: darrell1989 on Jul 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





 august 4, 2012 vol xlviI no 31
Economic & Political
‘Maruti Workers Are the Villains’: Truth or Prejudice?
Rakhi Sehgal
The events of 18 July in theManesar plant of Maruti Suzuki which ended with the murder of a company manager were not asudden conflagration. Anger atthe plant had been building up formonths over the management’srefusal to recognise an electedunion; workers were increasingly frustrated over their inability toexercise their constitutional rightsand the demand of equal pay forequal work was falling on deaf ears. Rather than portray the workers as villains, managementsin this industrial belt of Haryanahave to ask themselves why they have not been able to develop ademocratic industrial relationsframework that can address theconcerns of workers.
n Tuesday, 24 July, a Maruti Su-zuki worker,
from Sonepatsaid that though he had donenothing on 18 July – the day the Manesarplant witnessed large-scale violenceending in the death of an executive of the company – he was coming to surren-der to the Gurgaon police because thepolice were threatening his family witharrest of his father if they could not find
. He said he was working in the
-shift in the Manesar plant in the paintshop when violence broke out on 18 July but his first name matched the name of one of the 51 workers listed in the firstinformation report (
) filed by Deepak  Anand, general manager at MarutiSuzuki. Some of us tried to meet
andtalk to him before he presented himself to the police, but he was picked up by the Gurgaon police and his family wastold he would be taken to the Manesarpolice station where the
was regis-tered. However, until the time of writing(24 July),
could not be traced eitherat the Gurgaon police station of Sector17-
which picked him up or at theManesar police station where he was tobe presented since the
was lodged atthis station. According to an unconfirmed report,the Haryana police has detained the uncleof 
, an executive committee memberof the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union(
), because they are unable to locate
himself. Another worker is afraid toseek medical help for fear of arrest andtorture by the police. He is a
-shift worker who injured himself while flee-ing the factory premises on the eveningof 18 July and is afraid to meet anyone orseek medical help.Workers’ colonies near the Manesarplant are deserted. Police swept throughthe area and went up to Jhajjar andRohtak on the night of 18 July to pick upany worker wearing a Maruti Suzukiuniform or carrying a company identity card.
The Haryana police, administra-tion and the Maruti Suzuki managementhave managed to terrorise Maruti workersinto silence and forced them under-ground. This strategy has worked wellfor Maruti Suzuki management as it hashad all the freedom to present only its version of what is purported to havetranspired on the evening of 18 July. A handful of workers we managed tospeak to were unanimous in the viewthat the death of the Maruti Suzukiexecutive Awanish Kumar Dev “shouldnot have happened”. According to a worker, Awanish Dev had agreed to takeback Jiya Lal, the suspended worker, who had protested caste abuse by a su-pervisor during the
-shift on 18 July,but then Awanish Dev got a call froma senior, instructing him otherwise.Naresh Narwal, additional labour com-missioner, and Gurgaon district admin-istration officials told a joint trade uniondelegation that they too had received word that Maruti Suzuki managementhad agreed to take back the suspended worker the next day on 19 July and thatthe matter was almost resolved. Some
-shift workers we spoke to report hear-ing the same.What happened in the matter of a cou-ple of minutes that changed the courseof events that evening? Was it the phonecall from a senior manager, reversingthe understanding and agreement withthe union? Were the union leaders whoprotested the alleged reversal of thedecision threatened inside that negoti-ating room? Did union members rushinto the negotiating room to protecttheir leaders who they feared werebeing threatened or attacked? Or was itthe case that some people dressed in workers’ uniforms carrying “weapons”entered the room and started thrashingmanagers, exhorting workers who weremilling outside the room to follow theirlead, and these instigators refused tolisten to union leaders who pleaded withthem to stop and drop their weapons?Was the fire deliberately started or was it an accident, a short-circuit? Was
Rakhi Sehgal (
) is vice-president of the Hero Honda ThekaMazdoor Sangathan which is affiliated to theNew Trade Union Initiative.
Economic & Political
august 4, 2012 vol xlviI no 31
 Awanish Kumar Dev’s death an accidentor a brutal murder?Perhaps we will never knowPerhaps by the time workers and un-ion leaders who were present in that ne-gotiating room are able to present theirstory (if at all they are able to do so), noone would be willing to listen, becauseMaruti Suzuki management would havedrowned out all reasonable voices andthe relentless baying for the blood of  workers would have reached such a cre-scendo that the guilt of 
 workers would be a foregone conclusion and noone would want to hear otherwise.
Build-up on 18 July 
What we do know is that on 18 July the workers and their union were protestingthe unilateral decision of Maruti Suzukimanagement to suspend Jiya Lal. Theprevious day, workers of both shifts haddecided to skip their pre-shift meeting with supervisors to protest against man-agement intransigence vis-à-vis theirunion in negotiations on the charter of demands submitted by 
. On 18 July morning, the supervisor, RamkishoreMajhi, stopped some workers, includingJiya Lal, when they were returning fromtheir tea break and instructed them tostop boycotting the pre-shift meeting. Inthe exchange of heated words betweenthe supervisor and a group of workers,Ramkishore Majhi reportedly hurled acaste abuse at Jiya Lal, who protestedalong with others in the group. Thereaf-ter, Majhi reported this incident to hissenior managers and Jiya Lal reported itto his union leaders. Without giving JiyaLal an opportunity to present his versionof the incident, or discussing the matter with the union leaders, or showing any intent to resolve the dispute, the MarutiSuzuki management took the unilateraldecision of suspending Jiya Lal withimmediate effect.Union leaders and workers protestedthis high-handedness and called uponthe Maruti Suzuki management to eitherdiscipline both Ramkishore Majhi andJiya Lal, or revoke Jiya Lal’s suspensionand talk to the union and both partiesbefore taking any action. Disciplinary action against just the worker and notthe supervisor when the supervisor was equally, if not more, at fault wasnot acceptable to the workers. MarutiSuzuki management refused and thesituation escalated with every passinghour. Workers were angry with whatthey perceived to be yet another instanceof a worker being punished in a jiffy  without establishing his guilt and with-out talking to their democratically electedunion, while supervisors and managersare presumed innocent and protectedeven when they are at fault.
-shift workers continued production while
-shift workers decided to stay back inthe plant at the end of their shift untilthe dispute was satisfactorily resolved.Workers had not reacted like that ear-lier in the month when Ram Mehar,president of the union, had been sus-pended and then taken back a day later.Workers already had an enviable history of conducting a long non-violent strug-gle during the summer months of 2011.So what was different on 18 July? Hadthey had enough of management high-handedness and arrogance and decidedthat they must stand up against it? Weretheir actions fuelled by another allegedincident earlier in the week when super- visors and workers seem to have had aheated exchange and a supervisor alleg-edly told the workers that they could do what they wanted, their story was goingto end in the next two to three days (
karlo jo karna hai, agle do-teen din mein tumlogon ka yahan se safaya ho jayega
Fighting for Recognition
What is clear is that workers and theunion leaders had been increasingly frustrated by Maruti Suzuki manage-ment’s disrespect towards their electedunion, to establish which they hadsacrificed much and had also adheredto all preconditions laid down by themanagement so that it would “allow”the Haryana Labour Department to reg-ister the union!Chairman of Maruti Suzuki IndiaR C Bhargava claimed on 20 July in apress conference that it was the Govern-ment of Haryana which had reserva-tions about the registration of a unionand not the management. Does thisclaim have any credence in the light of the fact that last year Maruti Suzuki withstood a five-month long agitation,massive production losses, decliningmarket share and gave a huge payout tothe union leaders to abandon their strug-gle for the registration of their union? If Maruti Suzuki did not have reservationsabout the registration of a union, thenhow do we interpret Managing ExecutiveOfficer (Administration) S Y Siddiqui’sstatement in June 2011 that MarutiSuzuki will neither permit the formationof a union nor “tolerate any externalaffiliation of the union”.It has been repeatedly made clear tothe workers that they were up againstthe collective might of a huge corporatelike Maruti Suzuki with its clout, influ-ence and money power, and a collusivelabour department of the state govern-ment who were determined to thwartthe exercise of the workers’ constitutionalright to freedom of association.Unfortunately, the formation and reg-istration of a union does not automati-cally lead to its recognition by manage-ments, many of which refuse to negoti-ate in good faith, if at all, with registeredunions – a cause of much frustrationamong workers.Workers of Maruti Suzuki were alsoputting pressure on their union not togive in to management demands to forma grievance committee and welfare com-mittee, as agreed to by the previous
Web Exclusives
EPW has introduced a new section, "Web Exclusives" on its new and improved website (http://www.epw.in).This section will feature articles written exclusively for the web edition and will normally notappear in the print edition. All visitors to the website can read these short articles writtenmainly on current affairs.Readers of the print edition are encouraged to visit the
website and read these webexclusives which will see new articles every week.
  N  E   W
 august 4, 2012 vol xlviI no 31
Economic & Political
 union (the Maruti Suzuki EmployeesUnion) in the October 2011 settlement.Workers feared that the management would use these committees to build aparallel system of governance and sub- vert the functioning of their democrati-cally-elected union and deny it legiti-macy and recognition. Workers did notbelieve that the labour department of the state government could have issuedchallans to managers (for non-compli-ance with terms of the tripartite settle-ment of October 2011) independently, without the implicit “permission” of Maruti Suzuki management and they saw it as a pressure tactic to force the
’s hand.
Mounting Frustration
Managers and labour officers, who regu-larly visited the shop floor in Manesar, were fully aware of the mounting con-cerns, anger and frustration of the work-ers and yet did nothing to address anddefuse the situation. Instead the MarutiSuzuki management escalated tensionsby trying to intimidate the union leadersto agree to its terms – no collective bar-gaining and no serious discussion onthe charter of demands until the unionagreed to form the grievance and wel-fare committees! It refused to yield tothe union’s conciliatory gesture thatthe formation of these committeescould be a part of the negotiations andnot a precondition. Maruti Suzuki man-agement went so far as to lodge falsecases against key union leaders at theManesar police station last month whentalks broke down on this issue. Unionleaders were repeatedly harassed by the
of Manesar police station butthey refused to yield to the threatsand intimidation. And yet R C Bhargava claims in thepress conference that there were noissues between the management and workers and “no one saw this coming”!If that is the case then the entire man-agement team of Maruti Suzuki shouldbe sacked and more competent manag-ers should be hired.The workers and the union leaders were also united in their demand – thatthe long-term settlement that was undernegotiation should be implemented forall casual and contract workers em-ployed at the Manesar plant, who worked alongside them on the shopfloor. The management was adamantthat it would not agree to do so. It usedthe same argument proffered time andagain in this industrial belt by manage-ments and labour department – that per-manent workers do not have the legalright to espouse the cause of casual andcontract workers! And that casual andcontract workers do not have the legalright to raise an industrial dispute withthe principal employer! That theseso-called casual and contract workersare working in core production process-es in violation of the Contract Labour(Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970 isknown to all and yet no company hasbeen prosecuted for this violation inHaryana. And the Haryana governmentdoes not deem it necessary to comply  with its statutory duty of constituting aState Contract Labour Advisory Boardbefore which complaints can be raised,investigated and redressed. Maruti Su-zuki management’s recent announce-ment, that by 2013 it will ensure no con-tract worker is employed in its core pro-duction processes, is an admission thatthis is the existing practice. Will the
  N  E   W
Essays from the Economic and Political Weekly 
Village Society
Edited By 
The idea of the village has occupied an important place in the history of post-Independence India. This volume presentsa set of readings which primarily focus on the social, political and cultural aspects of village life.A comprehensive introduction provides a detailed historical analysis of the study of rural India, the changes in ruralsocial life, and the forces shaping life in villages today.The articles, drawn from writings in
over four decades, cover various features of village society: caste and community,land and labour, migration, discrimination and use of common property resources. They include writings by some of the pioneers of the study of the Indian village as well as by contemporary experts. This volume caters to a renewedinterest in village society born partly by the need to understand caste discrimination in post-liberalised India andpartly by the concern about contemporary agricultural stagnation and environmental degradation.
M N Srinivas • Andre Beteille • Surinder S Jodhka • G K Lieten • K L Sharma • Mukul Sharma • G K Karanth • Partap C Aggarwal • Jishnu Das • RogerJeffery, Patricia Jeffery and Andrew Lyon • Leela Gulati • Sudha Pai and Jagpal Singh • Anil Kumar Vaddiraju • Dipankar Gupta • John Harriss,J Jeyaranjan and K Nagaraj • N S Jodha
Pp x + 252 ISBN 978-81-250-4603-5 2012 Rs 325
Orient Blackswan Pvt Ltd
New Delhi
Contact: info@orientblackswan.com

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->