On Friday, August 17, 2012, thousands of workers of the Gurgaon industrial belt participated in a militant protest march through the busy streets of the town. When their shifts ended at 3 pm, the workers marched to the Gaushala grounds from their respective factories. From there, with hundreds of red banners proclaiming the workers’ demands, they marched through the streets of Gurgaon. The march finally culminated in a rally at the Mini Secretariat, where it was addressed by the leaders of the workers. Activists of the Communist Ghadar Party of India and the Mazdoor Ekta Committee participated vigorously in this march and rally. At the culmination of the rally, the workers presented a memorandum highlighting the problems faced by the workers of the Gurgaon Manesar belt and their demands, to the Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
The march and rally was organised under the banner of the Joint Coordination Committee of Trade Unions of Gurgaon. Workers from the Maruti Suzuki plant in Gurgaon and Suzuki Power Train led the rally as a symbol of the solidarity of workers of Maruti Suzuki with their comrades of the Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar, who are facing unprecedented and savage repression at the hands of the Haryana Government. As of August 17, 2012, 154 workers of the Manesar plant are in jail under false charges, and many of the leaders and workers have been victims of bestial torture at the hands of the Special Investigation Team set up by the Haryana government to investigate the incidents of July 18, 2012 inside the Manesar plant in which a HR Manager of the plant had died. The plant has since been locked out and the 3400 workers of this plant, as well as the 700 odd managerial staff have been denied wages.
Workers denounced the announcement of the capitalist owners of Maruti Suzuki that they would be terminating immediately at least 500 permanent workers who they claimed were "involved in the incidents" of July 18, 2012. Workers also denounced the announcement that there would be more terminations of permanent workers, and that only those of the trainees, apprentices and casual workers would be allowed to return to work whom the management decided to permit. Workers demanded that all the workers be taken back to work unconditionally. They demanded that the SIT of the Haryana government be immediately disbanded and the enquiry into the incidents of July 18, 2012 in the Manesar plant be handed over to a high level, impartial investigation conducted under the direction of the Supreme Court. They pointed out that the FIR registered on the incident which mentions 55 names and 600 others, has been used to spread a reign of terror amongst all the workers of maruti Suzuki.
Workers also demanded the lifting of the illegal lockout in Eastern Medicat in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon. They pointed out that many times in the past, they had raised the demands of the workers of the belt through memorandums submitted with the Chief Minister. They had requested a meeting of the trade unions with the Chief Minister to address the workers concerns, but this had been ignored.
Speaking at the rally, the leaders of the workers pointed out that what was going on in the Gurgaon Manesar belt was the result of ruthlessly pursuing the course of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. The government, the labour department and the police force were all working overtime for the capitalist bosses. All the labour laws were being flagrantly violated. Workers were faced with unspeakable exploitation. They declared that the young and educated workers of the belt will not tolerate these conditions for long. The demonstration and rally of today, is a message to the people of Gurgaon, to the government, to the capitalists that we workers are united as one and will fight for our rights. Speakers declared that if the demands of the workers were not fulfilled, the streets of Gurgaon belt will be filled with lakhs of workers who will force a total industrial shut down.
Among the unions participating in the march and rally were the Maruti Udyog Kaamgar Union (Gurgaon), Rico Workers Union (Dharuheda), Suzuki Power train workers union (Manesar) ,Suzuki Motorcycle workers Union, Hero Motor (Dharuheda), Eastern Medicat (Udyog Vihar), Honda Scooter, Satyam Auto (Manesar), Rico (Gurgaon), Sona Koyo Steering. The district and state level organisations of the central trade unions were also actively participating in the rally, including AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC and HMS.
The main demands raised by the workers in their memorandum to the government were:
- The dismissal of 500 workers of Maruti Suzuki without any charge sheet or enquiry, is unlawful, undemocratic and unconstitutional. All the 500 workers must be immediately taken back.
- Enquiry into the incident of July 18, 2012 to be done by a Judge of the Supreme Court in order to bring out the truth behind the events, as well as all the factors that led to the incidents so that such incidents do not recur in the future. Persecution of innocent workers must be immediately halted and all arrested workers must be immediately released.
- All the workers of the Manesar plant must be taken back to work, without any discrimination.
- The illegal lockout of Eastern Medicat must be lifted and all workers taken back to work. Negotiations must be immediately started on the long pending demands of workers.
- Immediate discussion between the government and the trade unions in the state of Haryana over the demands of the workers. These demands include implementation of the labour laws, setting the minimum wages at Rs 15,000, defence of trade union rights, time bound registration of trade unions, ending the prevalence of contract labour, ensuring regular work with regular wages, and equal wages for same work, ensuring ESI, Provident Fund, and the registering of workers in the employment rolls, as well as housing for workers.
- There is urgent need for reformed the labour laws. The government must immediately meet with the trade unions so that labour laws are reformed to ensure the rights of workers, which is the necessary condition for industrial peace. As an immediate measure, the labour department must ensure that whenever there is a dispute between the management and workers, then the worker must not be one-sidedly suspended, and any action must be preceded with discussion with the union and the labour department.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar considers the March and Rally of the workers of Gurgaon in solidarity with the workers of the Maruti Suzuki Manesar plant as an extremely important act in the present conditions of savage repression of the workers of the Manesar plant. At one stroke, it showed both the embattled workers of the Manesar plant that they are not alone, that the working class of Gurgaon Manesar stand by them. At one stroke, it cut through the disinformation campaign unleashed by the state through the media against the workers of the Manesar plant. As the workers marches through the streets with their bold banners and powerful slogans of solidarity, the people of Gurgaon saw once again with their own eyes the strength of a united workers movement. They saw that the workers are not going to allow themselves to be suppressed by the campaign of repression and disinformation.
The coming period promises to be one of intense class struggle, as the Indian and foreign monopolies, and the central government, step up their anti-working class offensive of attacking the rights of workers, in order to maximise their profits. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar hails the effort of the trade unions of Gurgaon to build a coordination committee of unions cutting across party and trade union lines. This development needs to be nurtured further. We need to create and strengthen organisations of workers which will enable workers to discuss what needs to be done today to resist the on-going attacks, and what needs to be done in the future, to ensure the reversal of the capitalist program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.