People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23  

June 7, 2009


Workers Are Fighting Back


THE recent attacks upon the workers in the name of the ongoing economic slowdown are not being taken by the workers silently. The workers are rising in protest in many industries because the employers are not only cutting their wages and benefits but also attacking their trade union rights.


In many industries in India, mainly in the public sector, wage revision for the workers have fallen due from January 1, 2007. But even after two and half years there is no sight of wage settlement in the near future.


In coal industry, all the five federations belonging to CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS and BMS jointly called for a three-day strike in January, 2009 which helped them to wrest a good agreement for them from the management.


There were strikes in Cochin Port Trust under the leadership of seven trade unions on May 12, 2009. This was the result of action taken by the Port Trust authorities on Marine Department employees who were on strike since April 26 against arbitrary orders of the authorities. The CPT authorities tried to use Navy personnel to break the strike on May 12. This move was thwarted by the workers. Port workers all over India are planning to go on strike in near future against rampant casualisation, contractorisation and for wage rise.


In Mahindra & Mahindra automobile plant in Pune, workers went on a tool-down strike since May 4 demanding withdrawal of suspension order on the president of the union and quick settlement of wages, which is due for the last 22 months now. The management utilises the services of trainees, contractorsí workers, temporary workers to roll out high-value cars and SUVs. Workers rights are being attacked at will. The employers did everything possible through intimidation, and even resorting to legal action to break the strike.


In Tamilnadu, the Hyundai automobile company refuses to talk to the union even in tri-partitie meetings. The workers had to go for strike just for recognition of their union. The company took punitive actions, dismissing 75 workers. It refused to attend the meetings convened by the Labour Department.


The workers of all the nine units of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) under the joint leadership of all the trade unions are going to observe one-day token strike on May 28, 2009, for wage revision and clearing some basic pay anomalies arising out of earlier wage agreement. Even after 11 meetings, there has been no progress and the management is inviting strike in this strategically important unit for no reason at all.


There have been a series of struggles in Haryana in auto-spare parts units as also in Hero-Honda units. There have been targeted attacks on contractorsí workers. In Pantnagar, workers in Nestle India went on strike as the company sacked some workers who tried to form their unions. Out of 1500 workers, only 175 are permanent, rest are trainees, contract workers, casuals etc who work at the mercy of one of the richest companies of the world.


The workers are refusing to accept such attacks and wage cuts when the top brass are earning huge bonus and pay and stock market is once again in a boom that benefits the owners in an unprecedented way.


(from The Working Class, June 2009 issue)