The Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) factory at Tapukara (Alwar, Rajasthan), on the Rajasthan-Haryana border has seen intense clashes between the workers of the plant and the management backed by police and hired goons since 16th February this year.
On that date, workers across categories of permanent-casual-trainee-contract came together to stop work and carry out a sit-in strike inside the factory. The immediate reason was that an Executive Engineer physically attacked a contract worker in the Paint Shop, forcing the physically unwell worker to work overtime for the fourth consecutive day.
The workers had been at the receiving end of very vicious attacks by the management both through manipulation of the “legal” process and through its goons ever since last year when they decided to form a union. They forged unity across the different departments and submitted an application for Union Formation on 6 August 2015 to the Registrar of Trade Union, Labour Department, Jaipur, initially signed by 227 permanent workers. All the other workers including company casuals, trainees and contract workers pledged full support and the collective strength grew as conditions and demands are similar.
From that time on, the management used every deceitful and manifestly illegal means via labour department and the Court. It resorted to transfer-suspension-termination of union leaders and retrenchment of around 800 active contract workers.
On 19th February, three days after the physical attack on the worker in the Paint Shop, over 3000 workers of HMSI and other factories got together and marched on the Honda HQ at Gurgaon. They demanded that their long standing demands for cessation of contract labour, better working conditions and an end to the attacks on their dignity must be addressed.
The same evening, instead of any negotiation, the workers’ leadership was immediately abducted and at the behest of the management, the assembled workers were brutally lathi-charged and repressed by Joint Police forces of Rajasthan and Haryana combined with illegal bouncers. Continuous arresting, hounding, and slapping false cases ranging from attempt to murder, rioting to looting, is still going on.
At present, over 2000 workers have not returned to work, the management is sending mass suspension letters to hundreds of workers, as they bring in contract workers from far-away states to illegally resume production at the cost of workers livelihood.
This repression from the management-police-administration is an expressed move to suppress the workers’ legitimate right to union formation and collective bargaining, right to permanent jobs, respect and dignity at work. Even as company profits are soaring to record heights, this repression is to facilitate the continuing unabated exploitation of the workforce. The management wants no resistance to payment of poor or stagnated real wages, non-implementation or revision of minimum wages, unfair labour practices including dismissal of workers and worker leaders and pathetic conditions of living in the industrial areas.
Workers are not taking these attacks passively and are struggling militantly to forge united resistance on the factory-floor and in the industrial areas. Other than the HMSI workers, workers in Daikin AC in Neemrana, Ahresty in Bawal, Shriram Pistons in Bhiwadi, incarcerated workers in Orient Craft, Maruti Suzuki, Pricol and so on, across the industrial corridors in Tapukara-Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana-Bahror, are similarly fighting today.
The immediate demands of the HMSI workers are the following:
- Withdraw all false charges slapped on workers, including three FIRs on a total of 86 HMSI workers till now.
- Reinstate all terminated and suspended workers immediately
- Recognize the right to union formation and stop management interference and coercion in this matter
- Stop the use of contract labour in work of perennial nature in main production, and withdraw suspension letters to workers in HMSI while labour dispute is going on.
- Punish the police, administrative, management personnel guilty of attacks on 16th February 2016 and further attacks on peaceful assembly of HMSI workers through a high-level enquiry
End the ongoing police repression and heavy police presence in the Tapukara and adjacent industrial areas.