Workers at Daikin, an air conditioner manufacturing company, have now been waging an ongoing struggle in Rajasthan’s Alwar region for over 170 days. On 8th August, in yet another protest march, the workers marched to the collector’s office to demand the release of over 18 workers arrested in the course of strike actions in January and withdrawal of illegal cases against the employees of the company.
On 8th-9th January 2019, over 2000 workers of the Daikin factory in Alwar had joined lakhs of other workers across India and taken to the streets to protest against the oppressive policies of the factory owners as part of a nationwide general strike. The workers were taking out the rally from outside the front gate of the company, where they were thrashed brutally by the police leaving many injured. Gas bombs were also thrown to disperse the crowds. Following this, cases were registered against 18 workers, with over 70 named in an FIR on extremely serious charges of attempt to murder under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, which denies bail to the accused. Cases were also filed by the Rajasthan police against 600 unknown persons. Besides the arrest, ten other workers were transferred to different cities in India without citing any reason.
A representative of the workers’ union said, “There is a brazen attempt by the state government to victimise the workers. We had appealed to the state government to conduct a fair enquiry in the case, but our appeal yielded no results. We have given a list of demands but the state continues to remain unmoved by our problems.”
The workers have been staging protests January onwards. They had staged protest rallies in March as well, demanding an end to the intimidation tactics by the police. The workers have been leading the struggle under the banner of Neemrana Mazdoor Manch and the Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti. Previously, the workers of the company had to wage a long struggle to be recognised as a union. The process had been ongoing from 2012; however, they were formally recognised only in August 2018 after consistent struggle. The workers have been raising their voices against the inhuman treatment meted out to them inside the premises of the company. Workers are barely provided time to go to the bathroom. There is no provision of food or water on site which is the bare minimum to function. They are being forced to function under enormous pressure.
Currently, negotiations with the local collector have been initiated. However, the workers stated that they will continue to intensify their struggle.