continued from Part 2…
Habitation of the Workers
In the decade of 1970, an industrial area was established in Wajirpur, Mayapuri and Mangolpuri areas of Delhi to setup small factories where Lath machine works, wear and tear, packing etc started. In those times, the primary ability that the workers, working in the factories situated in the outskirts of Delhi had, was their physical power. The slums and shanties erected side by side of the factories were home for the workers. In the fear of eviction and demolition the workers used to make the homes in the slums with cheapest materials. The instability of work and housing kept the migration of labours in a seasonal tenures. In the 1980, Okhla and New Okhla Development Authority and Faridabad Industrial Development Authority were established. Export centric and usage of high technology oriented such industrial organizations were bringing a new model of development.
The industrial system that came into being by taking Delhi’s Ridge areas into consideration did not have any place for the local population. Only the lands were taken in the villages situated in these areas, to develop industrial organization and modern housing by compensating the villagers but their villages were left undeveloped. The peoples of these areas were primarily got involved in jobs such as transportation, business, contractor etc. and also started extracting rent from workers by renting their homes after repairing or rebuilding. No place was left for workers’ habitation. Outside the high walls of the factories, chain of houses were built for the middle and lower class workers. In Okhla, such housings were developed on the outskirts of the town. Real Estate business started to infiltrate in all three places. This later became the biggest business.
Conditions of the industrial areas situated in and around Delhi started changing after 1990s. The new monetary policies, capital investment and banking policies, industrial and urban and rural development polices etc destroyed small sized industries functioning in the cities. According to the master plan, 15 – 20 Lakh people were evicted between 1990 – 2005 in the name of removing illegal occupants. In the name of beautification and cleaning the cities, Lakhs of families lost their livelihood due to the eviction drive which was conducted by the private companies in collaboration with the government agencies to grab the precious land in the cities. The Delhi government, which spent 4000 crore rupees to make a sewage of the Yamuna, evicted the inhabited workers in the Yamuna Pusta area to build highways, metros and temples.
Numbers of factories in the Wajirpur area decreased and restaurants, marriage halls, multi-storied buildings were built in that place. One of the areas got engaged in the computer related businesses. Industries primarily focused on real estate, high technologies and services were brought forward. New industrial models such as Integrated Industrial Model Town, SEZ and Monopoly Export areas emerged.
Technological dependency and export centric production system brought India into such a imperialist global market where cut throat competition and sentiments of acquiring foreign markets were already in place. Especially, the desire to capture the oil fields by America and the European countries to keep the control over the automobile market changed the Middle East Asia into a war zone. The big companies in the real estate market around the world are making all the efforts to grab the lands in the third world countries. Nexus between the real estate and the Industries in India can be seen from 1980s itself. After 1990, factories started to grab more than necessary land. Projects such as Metro Rail are an expensive burden on poor countries such as India. Such projects also grab big chunks of land which is not used for railways activity. These lands are purely used for real estate business.
Contract Workers Act (Appointment & Termination) came into place in 1970 itself. Although the Act was enacted to provide basic minimum facilities to the contract workers in Garment industries, mines and small factories from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata to Surat but it couldn’t be implemented even in part in Delhi itself. In Tughlaqabad and its surrounding areas the plight of contract workers working in stone mining industries in 2005 was that of the bonded labour. The biggest buyer of these stone mining was the government itself. Every year hundreds of workers died of Silicosis until these mines were closed.
A big problem of destroying the factories in 1990 and 2002-05 was to relocate the workers and re-establish the factories itself. A lot of such industries were not registered. Also workers in the factories employing 5 to 50 workers were all contractual. They did not have any union. That is why they did not get any basic minimum rights. And after the government changed the rules pertaining to unions in the 1990s and prohibited formation of unions in areas such as SEZ, any regulation of the contract workers was lost. Foreign companies did not take the risk of hiring workers so they outsourced it to the local contractors. The sheer number of the ‘no logo’ subsidiaries of these big companies solved the problem of registration and hiring of workers.
Labour rights such as minimum wage, 8 hours of work, refreshment facilities, medical and life insurance facilities etc. was felt by the government itself like a burden. Prime minister Manmohan Singh started arguing for ‘relaxation in labour laws’. But he didn’t get support for his labour laws. So he presented a 10 point charter (AJC Bose, Surendra Pratap). It such context the mentality of industrialists and political parties was visible in the Kingfisher Airline case. The workers and employees of Kingfisher Airlines were working without pay (for last 6 months) but that did not bother the company owner or its shareholders. Drowned in debt of 7650 crore, this company with the help of government purposefully forced Air India into debt. Ministers and high ranking officials made fortunes. To understand the forgery and bankruptcy in Kingfisher, it is necessary to focus on this fact: “Another company of the Kingfisher group, The UB Holding Limited provided a loan guaranty of Rs. 16853 crore to Kingfisher Airlines which already has a total capital saving of Rs. 4713 crore” (Aspects of Indian Economy, Issuer 52, Corporate Efficiency in India’s Economy, Page 78). The employees’ conditions are even more devastating. In one case, on 4th October wife of an employee of Kingfisher Airlines committed suicide due to the economic crisis and hopelessness. In earlier days, tortures on workers were done by the factory owners and its hired goons with the help of police and local politicians. But now a day, the tortures are being perpetrated by the collaboration of labour department, judiciary, police, Khap Panchayat, government and ruling politicians.
In this pattern of development, the foreign businesses contributed to 55% of the total GDP in 2011-12. In that year the total loan given by the banks to 389 companies rose to Rs. 2 Lakh Crore. The government’s own debt rose to Rs. 4 Lakh Crore. Due to such manipulation by the world market, the common people’s savings values are depreciating. Along with these, the removal of pension schemes and ‘welfare schemes’ are pushing the families of the employees and workers into insecure conditions where it is becoming difficult to sustain a livelihood. The spread of micro finance is so rampant that it is becoming impossible for the farmers to come out of it. To stop these atrocities the government invented new methods. A lot of NGO’s are working at the village level to increase the “entrepreneurship” and “savings” by developing the production units. On the other hand 80 crore population are forced to live on just Rs. 20 a day. Usage of technology, hybrid and pesticides have forced Lakhs of farmers to commit suicide in the last 10 years. Small farmers, landless peasants, communities living on traditional ways for livelihood and the Adivasis are the ones being aggressively preyed by the land lords and corporate houses. Tensions amongst the workers working as farm labours are increasing due to the market pressure on the agricultural sector to reduce the production cost. The use of violence by the authorities is increasing in the cities to control the migrated labours. The proposal of ‘reservation for the Dalit communities in the private sector’ would, as per the capitalists affect the ‘productive quality’. The employers use the typical social characteristics of India to keep a section of the society (such as caste, gender, region and other social differences) under very low wages (Jayati Ghosh, Frontline, 5th October 2012, Page 23). The industrialists who otherwise rejects the proposals which ensures to safeguard Adivasis, women, Dalits and groups having nationalistic sentiment from increasing instances of violence, controls Indian society and polity through the self proclaimed representatives of religion, caste, ethnicity, regional etc. And these industrialists use these so called representatives for criminal activities as and when required basis.
The working class emerged from such contradiction. The Indian ruling class is using all its mechanisms to keep the workers as migrant labour only. In such cases a big weapon for the government is the reserved army of landless peasants. And the government is using this weapon against the regular workers. According to the National Sample Survey 2004-05, 92% of the work force in India are working in unorganized and informal sector of which 61% are farmers. A total of 7.70 crore labours were working outside the farm sector as informal workers. As per the Sachhar Committee report, more 60% of the Muslim population are self employed. ‘Dependency of the Dalit farmers over usury increased from 36.6% to 55.2% between 1992-2002 whereas the bank loan per person decreased from Rs. 495 to Rs. 225 between 1993-2004. During this time the interest rates jumped from 27.8% to 45.5%’ (Aspects of India’s Economy, Issue 46, India’s Runway ‘Growth’: Part 3, Page 22).
Challenges of Struggle
‘The working class is the best source of political knowledge. This is the first and foremost class which needs all kinds of political knowledge. It is the one who can convert the gained knowledge into militant struggle. Sometimes they do it even when they do not have any ‘clear conclusion’ within their sight’(What is to be done, Lenin, Edition: On Trade Unions, Page 119).
‘Union is an important tool to spread social consciousness. It makes it possible to convert the power of industrial workers from an economic force to a political force. It helps the society to gain civil and political freedom. It is evident from historical facts that through unions only the workers infiltrated into the industrial market system and achieved civil and political rights through democratic organizations (Dignity at Work: A V Jose, EPW, 2nd October 2004, Page 4447).
The formation of union and proletarian parties in India happened in such a colonial system where undertaking a true mass line was not simple and straight. The unions had to fight the colonial system, feudal socio-economic system and the assault of imperialist capital to pursue the goal of mass line. During the time of formation of communist party and trade unions, the Congress Party in Gandhi’s leadership had already moved away from peoples sentiments. Gandhi used to see the solution of the internal contradiction between labour and capital in ‘patriarchal feudal system’ where owners of capital should behave as ‘father’ who will take care of his ‘sons’. The Indian capitalists themselves emerged from usury, sell of foreign products and through establishing small factories with the help of colonial capital. Both the colonial and domestic capitalists used to exploit the workers on the lines of caste division. For that they used to hire agents from selected castes. This was the Jobber system the migration of labours from the villages to the cities and the settlement in the cities were happening on the lines of caste division which was existing in India society. Neither this migration to the cities changed the caste division existed in the villages nor did the quality of labour brought any dignity or consciousness. As per the Jobber system, an agent was paid a sum of money, one time. Then he used to bring workers from a single caste or communities or sometimes from a single family for contract jobs. These contracts were for a limited time period after which these contract workers used to return to their villages and then again search for jobs. These agents had an important role in the formation of trade unions. Sometime these agents used to join any one trade union along with all of his hired workers or sometimes they used form their own union to negotiate with the factory owners.
While forming and working in labour unions and organizations, one the founder member of Communist Party of India (CPI), Amritpad Dange opined that “Shudras”, the fourth and last category of people in Brahmanism are historically deprived of everything. We can see him adopting this historical thought in his political work by observing his straight forward acceptance of the labour unions emerging out of Jobber system. That time, Ambedkar divided the trade union movements lead by CPI to a great extent by pointing out the division of labour and division of labourer. The division of labour in Mumbai was not only based on caste but also on religion, language, geography etc. Unlike the Dalit workers who increasingly inhabited in Mumbai, the Muslim workers had already inhabited in that place. This division increased in 1910 – 1920 during the labour movements for wage revision. The Congress party was the main convenor of these movements. The labour unions started forming in Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, Ahmadabad.
During the great depression of 1930, workers staged protests in the Bombay, Kanpur, Surat. To break the class consciousness of the striking workers, not only labours were brought from villages but the protesting labours were being divided on caste lines. The Congress party took an active participation in dividing the workers on caste lines. The CPI leadership was put behind bars. The ‘reserved army’ of labours was mainly landless Dalit peasants from villages. They had desperate need for jobs. The layers of agents and middlemen between the capital and historically deprived labours were such an obstacle which today’s socialist forces are still finding difficult to remove.
The situations from which these agents benefited in those days still exist today also. The Jobber system deals with the workers who struggle with the uncertainty of the labour market. From attracting good workers to maintaining a steady need of labour and keeping a constant flow of job seeking workers, the Jobber system provide preferences to new workers and seek to stop those workers who breaks the above continuity of workers. This way they keep a reserve army of informal workers. Thus Jobber system maintains availability of work without providing any guarantee for regular works and withholds them from joining alternate jobs (Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, The Structure and Labour Market: Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India, Page 108). In the name of providing civil rights, the British tried to complicate the Indian politics to control the growing deep disappointment and unemployment during the great depression of 1930’s.
In these circumstances, the role of farmers and workers came to be identified in the radical national movements and the use of violence as a medium was openly being discussed. Bhagat Singh became a symbol for this. This was a time when the Indian national movement was divided. Along with this the trade unions were divided on ideological grounds. A lot of workers took to the streets for wage revision fixed working hours. The workers’ struggle went for months. The growing influence of the communist party over the trade unions during 1928 – 1929 posed a challenge for the British and the Indian Bourgeois. In March 1929, 33 leaders of the Communist party were punished severely after finding guilty of conspiracy against the state and promoting Bolshevism. New workers were recruited through the leaders of divided trade unions and the Jobber system and a large number of labour returned back to their villages. Later times are observed as the extension of these division and return of workers.
In the colonial times, the British administration system was central to the habitation of the cities. Businesses persons, employees, lower-middle class etc. were all outside of this circle. And the worker and labour class who used to live in slums were in the outermost perimeter. This was not only division of works but as well the division of labourers and habitations on the basis of caste. By the 1940s, the workers’ movements had started to understand and acknowledge the necessity of national consciousness, values of populism and class unity. From 1940 to 1945, workers carried out glorious struggles. In the days that followed national consciousness was surrender to nation’s development. During this entire period of transition of farmers’ struggle, the worker class could not participate. The primary reason behind this was the colonial system and the controlled transition of workers by the Indian bourgeois. And through this, the questions of caste, land and populism was subdued under the Congress-led national consciousness.
The Indian capitalists skillfully continued the experiences gained from the colonial rule. They also retained the balance of migration from villages to the cities. In this huge development projects and in the big newly built big industries, there was no involvement of the workers whose lives were ruined. Such industrial development in one hand generated a huge middle class population and in another hand created an integrated proletariat. In this system the working class could not move beyond solving the problems persisted in the huge public sector units. It was the workers of Railways which crossed the line. The colonial labour system was remained in more or less all the small and medium textile industries and the jute mills. The division of labour on the lines of caste, religions, language and region was clearly visible in the inhabitation of workers in the cities. This division was even more visible in the agro-based industries. A big reason behind the transition of workers was not due to the inferiority of means but because unavailability of livelihood throughout the year. After the colonial loot and then being ruined by the post independence model of ‘development’, the working class neither had any means of yearlong livelihood in villages nor any promises of jobs in the cities. Workers used to come to the cities to search for jobs leaving their families in the villages and used to return after earning. They could not get out of this cycle.
Whenever the Indian economy faced any crisis, pressures were felt both in the cities and villages. This crisis brought starvation in the villages and unemployment in the cities. In the pattern of habitation that were present in the cities, these crisis were (and still are) doomed for taking the path of riots and expulsions. These new crisis brings itself with an army of reserved labours which the capitalist classes use as a tool to break the workers’ struggle and increase exploitation. This poses a big challenge for formation of workers’ union and the capitalists along with the ruling elite uses these challenges for their own benefit.
Foreign techniques in the agricultural sector were used in a very controlled manner in 1970s. This was brought to control the explosive situations fostering in the Indian political and social environment arising out of the industrial crisis and increased pressure of the feudal structures in the villages, which could have altered the socio-political characteristics of India. The “Green Revolution” was a mechanism to push poor landless peasants, small farmers and farm workers into a systematic migration. Usage of foreign techniques in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh sped up the process of strengthening national agricultural organizations and organizations based upon linguistic and regional aspirations. With the speed with which industrial sector was gripping in the global economic crisis, it was through to be difficult for the public sector and the big industries to come out of the crisis.
Railway was the combination of these two types of production where this pressure was felt the most. Working at the all Indian level to provide facilities of mass transportation, this government department brought out the best organized movements of workers. It shook the contemporary Indian politics. Increasing tensions on the agriculture and the industrial crisis took the entire economy in its fold. The Emergency or the liberty use ‘new techniques’ in industries neither stopped the migration of labours not did it stop the redevelopment of the farmer’s organizations which used to ‘control’ landless farmers and peasant workers. Also the division along the lines of caste and migration could not be controlled. In this period, expansion of cities were happening by way of increasing the number of slums to accommodate migrant workers and settlement of lower-middle classes who used to do clerical jobs in small and medium sized factories.
The in-formalization of workers increased after 1980s. Unemployment and inflation kept on rising but the expenditure on subsistence kept on decreasing. Participation of Workers in the economic and social spheres was on decline. It was becoming difficult to get jobs in the cities or villages. In an environment of decreasing social security and usage of brute forces by the powerful elite, formation of workers’ union became a challenge. Very small production units increased rapidly. In these units, members of same family of 5-10 workers used to work. Large factories were getting their works done by hiring chain of contractors. Old factories were rapidly closing. The closure of once such factory in Delhi changed the habitation and professions of the entire neighborhood. The expansion of cottage industry was such an opportunity for formation of unions on which the Indian workers’ movement could not capitalize.
Competition between the ‘export dependent industries’ and the birth of new industries which captured the Indian market brought about new phenomenon. A new kind of workers’ organization emerged under the leadership of Datta Samanta. The supporters of Datta Samanta formed unions and followed his line. Thousands of workers who supported Datta Samanta led strikes were sent to their villages. On the leadership of Baal Thackeray, workers were pitted against each other on the basis of language, region and religion. The workers’ movements in the textile mills from Surat to Kanpur were not only destroyed by the state sponsored religious riots and arsons but the production system emerged in 1970 was also destroyed. During the historical strike of the Mumbai textile mill workers in 1982, thousands of migrant workers lived in rumour, fear and panic for years. And the face of Mumbai went on changing. A senior leader of AITUC, Mumbai Gangadhar Chitnis wrote:
“Workers who came late from the villages were dismissed from jobs. And the number of such workers was in thousands. According to the official records one lakh six thousand workers lost their jobs. Work pressure had increased. The behavior of the authorities had changed. The authorities who had subdued voice during the strike had now gained loud voice. The workers had lost their self esteem. The circumstances were such that workers feared to go to the unions. Coercion by the recognized workers federation (INTUC) had increased. None had the courage to oppose them” (The destination is still away, Page 134).
Big strikes and radical struggles of workers can be seen in the coal mines and public sector of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar in the decade of 1980. In this decade, the World Bank stared interfering directly into the Indian economy policies. In 1982, the Singrauli coal mine management tried to break the unity of workers by forming Singrauli Coalfield Workers Union. With the participation of around 1.5 lakh workers and numerous intellectuals and student made this a historical struggle. In view of this struggle, the World Bank in 4th August 1997 wrote in its draft policy:
“To achieve a definite result, the huge entities such as Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation and Singrauli coal mines should be privatized… Singrauli has some political issues so the privatization, reforms and laying off workers of Singrauli coal mines should be deferred for the next round. Before enforcing these, we must take stock of the situations”.
To do this and to create a conductive atmosphere for privatization, the World Bank appointed a special advisor. The direct intervention of imperialist institutions took the entire Indian economy on the path of privatization. In these times, the workers carried out militant struggle. Under the leadership of Shankar Guha Niyogi, the workers’ struggle in Dalli Rajhara was able to attract student and intellectuals towards the struggle.
From 1980s, the labour structure in the formal production units had started changing under the supervision of the World Bank. Division of labour in regular, contractual and apprentice jobs started showing its footprints in the formal sector as well. By 1990, it emerged according to the Indian social and economical structure. This division of labour remained a big constraint for the workers. This ethnic division was expressed through biasness and behavior. Since 2005, this division progressed to unity in some of the struggles. The workers of different categories and sections began to stand for the rights of others. Graziano is the earliest example where the regular workers demanded to regulate the temporary and apprentice workers who were working since a long time.
Difficult conditions in the workplace creates a conductive atmosphere for creating a new union in one hand and in another hand, the powerful elites tries to create hurdles for the workers to stop them by formally justifying the difficulties by arguing that these are necessary conditions. After 1990, as the use of technologies and advent of capital increased so the number of farmer suicides and desolation of workers. The urban lower-middle and middle class born in 1970-80 and the newly rich groups in villages took the same path to solve the problems of unemployment, market crisis and increased pressure over agriculture which the Indian government introduced on the suggestion and for the benefit of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Imperialist countries and the Indian bourgeois. State sponsored ethnic and religious riots wreck havoc on the local businesses, burnt the slums and resulted in termination of workers. The sentiments of ‘Nationalism’ began to be used against the workers’, farmers’ and tribal people’s struggles. They were charged with treason. Policies were adopted to openly attack them.
With the new development policies came the forceful possession of big chunks of lands, real estate business, control of workers with the help of feudal forces by making decentralized productions and contractual jobs. From TATA to Vedanta and from Maruti Suzuki to coal mafia, Reddy brothers and the internationally known Regency Ceramic company in Yanam, all are engaged in similar type of activities. These are not personal decisions adopted by the capitalists but an old policy of the state to control working class. In the case of the workers’ movement in Regency company, Yanam, the leadership of Telegu Desham party, Congress, the local business community and Tamil speaking population abused each other by caste, language and region and blamed each other for the incident.
Challenges in Maruti Suzuki movement
The present challenges came forward in condensed form for the Indian workers in the ongoing struggle in Maruti Suzuki. There are about 50 villages between Gurgaon and Dharuheda which have their own Khap Panchayat system. News reports of bloody politics over the Panchayat and District council elections are printed alongside with the news of corporate activities in the local news papers. The area between Gurgaon and Dharuheda is dominated by theYaduvanshi Ahir community. They are the primary occupiers of lands here. The government sold the lands bought for industrial purpose at 20% higher rate for the purpose of housing projects. This was a part of government’s industrial policy. The workers and employees did not get any land in the entire industrial town area. But the international real estate companies were able to buy lands and they changed the face of the industrial town. Only the islands of villages were left in this buying and selling.
This industrialization also had the unwritten policy of not giving job opportunities to the local villagers. In an Indian village structure system, all the people of the village don’t own land. Usually the Dalit communities are the one forced to go out of village in search of works. Small land owners opened street side tea and snacks shop in the nearby areas of the factories or started ferrying passengers. The Haryana government has intentionally left the huge number of workers to such transport systems because these serve as the livelihood for the local villagers. People in the villages have repaired their own houses and built small rooms to rent out to the workers. The local real estate agents are also eyeing for the village lands.
The factories have distributed the responsibilities of ‘development’ of these villages among themselves. The Maruti Suzuki has taken the responsibility of Banshgaon, Aliyar and Basiyar villages. There is a maternity house in Aliyar. This is the only hospital in this area. A primary school is also in same condition as that of the ‘hospital’. This area doesn’t have any hospital. On the other hand the area was populated with big multinational companies and export oriented business entities. Traffic problem is common in the Delhi Jaipur highway and it is difficult to travel to and from Gurgaon through that road. But the people of the villages or the workers dont have any option but to travel through this road.
The Maruti Suzuki Company deducts an amount of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 5600 for illness, late entry or slow work. In some case the company even dismisses such workers. The seasonal temperature varies from 42 – 44 degree Celsius in the summer to 5 – 7 degree Celsius in the winter. The workers have to work for almost 9 hours to produce one car in every 54 seconds. During this, they get two 7 minutes refreshment break and one 30 minutes lunch break. There is not only division of labour among the workers but the workers are also divided in a number of different categories as well. Regular, contractual, apprentice and trainee workers who work in shop floor are not counted among the other workers who work in other jobs. These ‘other’ workers are also appointed and maintained through different management wings.
There is a huge number of and chains of contractors in Gurgaon. It provides and controls a variety of potential workers. During exercising such kind of control by the contractors on the Maruti Suzuki struggle when the workers responded. Due to such controls by the contractors that the workers’ anger erupted in the Orient Craft’s plant. In the 18th July Maruti Suzuki incident, these three villages were in the forefront, to give statements against the workers, call Panchayats and demand for crackdown on the workers.
In industrial sectors such as this one, i.e. the Auto Sector, the workers does not have any time for toilets let alone for canteen or community center. But surely liquor is available for them. There are no trees alongside of the wide roads. The hundred meter space which was provided to the workers on the orders of the court as a protest site was also vanished. The village heads of the near and surrounding areas of Delhi must have given their consent while provisioning the unwritten policies to not hire workers from the local community. This is same as like kicking on a poor farmer’s fate. But the security guards, drivers and bouncers were hired from these villages.
The longstanding unity between these villages was a result of the cultural practices of the caste system and Khap system. This was also a method to control the ‘outsiders’ where the culture of highhandedness practiced in Haryana was used. The management is not the only one to pressurize the workers besides there are the Khap Panchayats, contractors, police and administration, political parties, state government and factory owners. After the 18th July incident, the workers were purposefully left off the hook to let them return to their villages so that their families in the cities can be harassed. The Khap Panchayats had already demanded for crackdown on the workers and had given their statements against them. The families of the workers objected such demands and protested against the police and administration in Krusukshetra and Gurgaon. The government’s violent use of the Khap Panchayats is still continuing in Haryana. In an incident where a minor Dalit was raped, when they tried to report it to the police not only the family of the victim but other girls from the community had to pay the price for reporting the incident. The shameful and degraded act of the police and administration, political parties, Khap Panchayats and the government can be easily seen in Mirchpur, Gohana and other places of such incidents.
The workers in the Manesar plant did not achieve any victories but they certainly showed a ray of hope. Even after so much repression the workers of Maruti Suzuki are still continuing their historic struggle. They showed a wonderful commitment towards their cause by organizing a two day hunger strike protest on 7th and 8th November 2012.
The challenges faced by any workers’ movements are not only the one inside the factories but also the powerful class of ruling elites outside the factories who are not only controlling the livelihood of the farmers in villages but also the workers in the cities in order to earn more and more profit. The Indian economy and politics is attached to the global economy and politics. The global economic fallout and recession wreck havoc on the capitalists worldwide by the end of 2007. Different methods of plunder such as Real Estate, Share market and war like exploitation methods back fired on them. Industrial output fell to below one percent. In a tax based economic system, common people were not ready to accept any further ‘austerity measures’. Developed countries are not yet ready to go to the bottom line by showering alms at the cost of the debt of third world countries. But they want to win market competitions by risking workers’ lives. Today people and workers in the European countries and America are taking to the streets. Millions of workers are agitating against their governments.
I do not have any concrete answer on how to organize the working class or what should be the outlook of the trade unions in today’s scenario. I am not in a position to answer this question. However, in terms of the challenges and the movement, we can certainly learn something from the methods used by the struggling workers and the continuity of the ongoing movement can be carried forward.
The way that the Maruti Suzuki workers in Manesar are fighting their battle for the last one year, we can see a new trend in the trade unions and workers organizations. At first the workers created a coordination committee inside the factory and put forward the demand for registering their union in front of the management. Later, when the management was able to coerce few members of the coordination committee then the workers created another secret committee along side of the existing coordination committee. Basically, the second committee is the one which takes the decision and which is elected by the workers.
Even after the 18th July 2012 incident and subsequent arrests of workers and office bearers, decisions taken by this secret committee with the consultation of the jailed workers gained huge support. Along with this, families of the workers also united themselves and protested against the state repression in Rohtak and Gurgaon. Such decisions were very effective to carry forward their struggle in an organized way against the repressions and persecutions inside the factory. From the formation of a union inside a factory to formation of a secret committee, organizing the families, spreading the movement in to the villages, freedom to take initiative and organize big rallies, precautionary measurement for self defense, distribution of responsibilities, addressing the Khap Panchayats etc. we can learn a lot from the organized and practical use of such methods in the movement to tackle the current challenges in workers’ movements and can walk towards creating unions which could organize the working class.
The challenges in the labour movements in India is associated with the goal of liberation Indian society from the shackles of capitalist slavery and which would open the path for creating a just society. The working class people of this country are exploited by not only the domestic big capitalists but also the loot and oppression by imperialist countries. It is not possible break free from the slavery of labour without breaking the feudal class relations. Only through the struggle of land, livelihood and a just society, the working class can intensify their struggle against capitalism and can walk ahead on the path of Socialism.