People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 14, 2005
is now a hotly discussed issue among the trade unions, political parties, MPs,
media and the common people. The shocking outrage has provoked protest not just
in India but also from many international trade unions, including Zenroren of
27 of the Japanese Constitution says, ‘All people shall have the right and the
obligation to work; standard for wages, houses, rest and other working
conditions shall be fixed by law; and children shall not be exploited”. And
Article 28 adds, “The right of the workers to organise and bargain and act
collectively is guaranteed.”
the provisions of the Indian Constitution, and the Indian Trade Union Act 1926
and Industrial Disputes Act 1947 guaranteeing trade union rights and lawful
functioning of trade unions are known facts and need not be quoted here.
above references are being quoted in the context of the flagrant violation of
both the Japanese labour laws and the Indian labour laws which guarantee trade
union rights by the Honda Motor Cycle and Scooter India Ltd (HMSI). And also in
the context of the government of Haryana acting in collusion with the Japanese
MNCs and resorting to such a barbarous attack on hundreds of striking workers in
Gurgaon on July 25, 2005.
workers struck work when the HMSI management, enraged with the workers daring to
form a workers’ union, dismissed and suspended altogether 54 employees and
declared an illegal lock-out of the factory. The brutal lathicharge by Haryana
police, together with the Honda
management’s violation of all labour laws, came as an extremely shocking and
shameful incident in the history of independent India.
HUB OF MNCs AND ELITE
of Haryana, because of its proximity to Delhi, the national capital and allured
by various forms of incentives offered by the Haryana government, has become an
ideal hub of foreign direct investment in India. These MNCs are enjoying all
extra-amenities provided by the government, which, however, keeps a blind eye
towards labour laws violation by these MNCs.
because of location of a large number of MNCs, good infrastructure like roads,
water and electricity provided for such investment and the luxury hotels, malls
and super luxury apartments for the rich and the neo-rich, Gurgaon has also
become an attractive destination for the elite of the society as an ideal place
to live in. In fact, many families of the elite society of Delhi have already
CHARACTER OF THE CAPITALIST STATE
savagery with which the Haryana police attacked the protesting workers and
mercilessly injured at least 700 of them – repeatedly hitting directly on
their heads – is rare in post-independence period and has therefore drawn the
attention of the entire country. The real character of a capitalist state vis-à-vis
the workers has been nakedly revealed by this brutality of the police with the
connivance of the administration and the MNC owners. The exploited workers, who
are also victims of blatant denial
of basic trade union rights, were
subjected to severe repression. It is actually a ferocious class-struggle
unleashed from above by the MNCs and the State on the exploited working class.
the wake of globalisation, MNCs make financial investment in any country –
India or elsewhere – not for the welfare of the people of the host country,
but for maximisation of their profits. Similar is the case with the big
indigenous capitalists also. They subject the workers to inhuman exploitation,
try to deny all labour rights and blatantly violate labour laws of the land.
Universally, it is a class-conflict between the capitalists and the working
class. The tragic and inhuman episode of Gurgaon on July 25, 2005 has shown that
the class character of a capitalist State is never a theory, but always a stark
reality in practice.
OF LABOUR LAWS
of labour laws in India is not a rare phenomenon. Many MNCs as well as the
indigenous capitalists openly violate labour laws with impunity. The government
of the land does not only remain a simple bye-stander but also actively helps
the capitalists to deprive the workers of their legitimate trade union rights
and benefits which the workers rightfully deserve.
it is working hours, leisure time, pay rise, bonus, conditions of service, fair
treatment to the women workers and any other benefit which are minimum
requirements of the workers for a human living – not to speak of the amenities
for a decent work according to the ILO standard – are being flatly denied. In
the globalised economy where maximisation of profits is the sole motive of
capitalism and the capitalist State, the working class is a natural victim
everywhere in the world, particularly in the third world countries. The workers
of the so-called sunrise and other upcoming industries are especially
same such thing happened in Gurgaon. Pushed to the wall by the oppressive
treatment of the Honda management, the workers ultimately dared to form a union
and duly applied to the State Labour Commissioner for its registration. The
commissioner simply sat over the file for over two months. It was only after
Left parties MPs took up the matter with the chief minister, who found no other
way at the end but to ask his labour department to grant the registration, was
the union registered. Is any further proof necessary to confirm the allegation
of collusion between the State and the MNCs for the suppression of workers?
is therefore natural that shocked at the inhuman brutality of the police on the
workers, the entire country came out in massive protest. Ultimately, faced with
the rising tide of countrywide protest and indignation – both inside the
parliament and outside as also the anger voiced by the National Human Rights
Commission demanding a CBI probe into the incident – the government of Haryana
brokered a settlement between the management and the workers’ union resulting
in resumption of work by the workers. But the agreement had humiliating
conditions like giving of good-conduct certificates and undertakings to accept
so-called enquiry by the management against a number of workers and the
consequent punishment that may follow.
the ghastly barbarities by the police force on the workers of Honda factory
angered almost all trade unions and political parties and the common masses of
the country, the corporate world is yet to learn the lesson. On the contrary
they are up in arms against the Left trade unions.
shameful was the statement of the Japanese envoy in Delhi threatening that such
labour protest might affect the prospects of FDI in India. This statement from a
foreign envoy is not only audacious and unwarranted but also humiliating for the
country. FDI does not mean that the MNCs are at liberty to create a jungle-raj
in their factory premises and treat the workers as beasts of burden.
corporate world in India is also daring the Left trade unions and sermonising
the workers to ‘keep away from politics’. As Times
of India in its August 1 issue reported, the secretary general of FICCI
while counselling the workers to ‘keep away from politics’, warned
“corporate employees and workers should not fall prey to radical trade unions
promoted by Left parties. However, the act by the police was an obvious
over-reaction…” Another senior
corporate executive in Kolkata belonging to RPG yelled, ‘We hope Gurgaon does
not become like Kolkata as the Left has already started sowing seeds of unions
in the city’. Another corporate executive of KPMG gleefully remarked, “The
entire episode was politically engineered. The district authorities were right
as what they did, just that they overreacted’.
an audaciously direct challenge to the workers for daring to resort to rightful
trade union activities to protect the workers from the merciless exploitation by
the MNCs and the Indian corporate world? The capitalist world in collusion with
the State is up in arms to foist a bitter class struggle on the workers from
above. The workers will accept this challenge.
government of India and the state governments would also have to take proper
lessons from the Gurgaon episode. Enamoured by the temptation of FDI, they
should not forget that India has a Constitution and a set of labour laws enacted
by the parliament which guarantee some minimum labour rights and defined working
hour to the workers. If the governments fail to ensure implementation of such
laws and give a free rein to MNCs or indigenous investors to violate these laws
at will, then the repetition of Gurgaon cannot be prevented, however lamentable
it may be.
IS NO PANACEA
class and the common masses eagerly want industrialisation and other
developments in the country. If it is done through proper policy framework,
without banking on the dictates of World Bank-IMF-WTO and the unbridled profit
craze of the corporate world and the MNCs, then the mass of the people can
really be benefited.
the neo-liberal economic policies championed by the country’s ruling classes
and supported by a section of intellectuals, academic community and media,
consider unbridled exploitation by MNCs and all capitalist investors as panacea
for country’s economic prosperity. But the last two decades of history has
proved that World Bank-IMF dictated neo-liberal theory itself is faulty and
misconceived only to enrich the rich and it utterly fails to solve the
country’s deep economic problems – particularly of the common masses. On the
other hand it inflicts more and more misery on the common people, render the
workers a surplus entity and formidably increases joblessness. Neo-liberal
economic theory of globalisation only serves the interest of the rich and elite,
maximises the profits of the capitalists and further marginalises the poor.
India is a glaring example. The corporate world’s revengeful yelling at
Gurgaon episode is a further confirmation.
peace is ideal, if the owners of the capital provide minimum necessary benefits
to the workers and accept their labour rights and dignity. However, homilies on
industrial peace serve no purpose because it is not a one-way traffic.
Responsibility for industrial peace rests both on the workers and the owners of
capital. In fact, the latter has the primary responsibility for industrial peace
by ensuring a minimum standard of living and service conditions to the workers.
But if the owners are allowed a free rein to recklessly exploit the workers and
deny their legitimate labour rights, then the organised protest and resistance
by the workers will be a natural corollary. This must be understood clearly by
the capitalists as well as the governments.
flashpoint Gurgaon has again proved before entire India and the whole world that
at a certain unbearable point of exploitation and oppression, the labour finds
no alternative but to flare up. And this flare up in Gurgaon has served to give
a timely fillip to the entire
working class of the country to unite and bravely fight against mercilessness of
capitalist exploitation and State’s brutality and for implementation of
existing labour laws. Gurgaon has shown the path to the working class.