(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 25, 2011
GLORIOUS STRUGGLE IN MARUTI SUZUKI
Has Manesar Become Suzukiland?
IN the midst of the ongoing industrial unrest, caused by premeditated provocative actions by Maruti Suzuki management since August 29, 2011, it appears that the laws of the land, whether labour and non-labour, do not hold good in Manesar. The biggest lie, propagated by the management, one which has been loyally echoed by the corporate-captive media, was to dub an illegal action by the management as a “strike” by workers. With no stretch of imagination, however, can this be called a strike as it was the management which stopped the 2500-strong workforce from entering the factory from August 29 onward till they signed individually what the management called a “Good Conduct Bond.” This “fatwa” was given by the management after the unilateral dismissal of five permanent workers and 18 trainees as well as the suspension of 26 permanent workers. The workers are, even today, actually reporting in shift as per the usual working hours before the gate but they are not allowed to enter the factory. Under which law of the land has the management resorted to such gross provocation to create an industrial disorder? None.
GOOD CONDUCT BOND!
OR SLAVERY BOND?
labour secretary of the government of
How do the contents of the “bond” read? It starts with the following preamble:
“I,…. s/o…. Staff no….. do hereby execute and sign this good conduct bond voluntarily of my own volition in accordance with clause 25(3) of the certified standing orders.”
It is crystal clear that no worker would execute such a bond “voluntarily,” of his own volition. The question is: under which law of the land can the Maruti Suzuki coerce its workers to become an unwilling bonded labourer in a country where bonded labour is banned?
The bond refers to a clause in the certified standing order. But a perusal of the standing order glaringly exposes how the relevant law has been shamelessly violated by the management in connivance with the certifying authority of the state government of Haryana.
The standing orders regulate the service conditions of workmen in accordance with Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946. The Model Standing Order for the purposes of the Act has also been appended in this Act which specifies the acts and omission of workmen, amounting to misconduct. The model order gives an outline of eleven major misconducts. The standing orders for workmen for Maruti Udyog Limited, Manesar, show eight acts constituting minor misconduct and 103 (one hundred and three!) acts constituting major misconducts. Is there any industrial undertaking in the country where 103 acts of such misconduct has been listed as may can lead to major penalties like dismissal without notice, suspension without wages for 15 days etc? (These practices the present management is resorting to at the drop of a hat.) One has to go to Guinness Book of Records to find a precedent.
Some such major misconducts in the Maruti Suzuki’s aforesaid Standing Order are given below. These show to what extent the workers are being intimidated:
(i) Apply or obtain leave on a false pretext.
(ii) Lack of proper personal appearance, sanitation and cleanliness including proper grooming.
(iii) Conduct in private life prejudicial to the reputation of the company.
(iv) Remaining in a toilet for a substantially long period of time.
(v) Habitual neglect of cleanliness.
These give just a cursory idea of what actions constitute a misconduct in the eyes of the Maruti Suzuki management. The above exclude the minor misconduct for “Chewing betel while on duty and within the boundary walls!”
authority of the above standing order, which included the clause of
Conduct Bond” was one M S Rana, deputy labour commissioner of Haryana,
(i) Where there is a trade union, he must forward a copy of the draft standing orders to the trade union;
(ii) Where there is no trade union, he must call a meeting of the workmen to make them elect three representatives, to whom he must, after their election, forward a copy of the draft standing order.
Rana sent the certified standing order to the management i.e. M/s Maruti Udyog Limited, Manesar Plant, Plot No 1, Phase 3A, IMT Manesar, Gurgaon on March 21, 2007. But no copy was forwarded to any trade union (as there was none), nor to any elected representatives of the workmen. Rather it was forwarded to four trainees in the plant on January 25, 2007. The address of the four trainees was --- C/o Maruti Udyog Limited, Manesar Plant, Plot No 1, Phase 3A, IMT Manesar, Gurgaon.
From the above it is clear that the certified standing order --- on whose basis all the victimisation of and repression on the workforce is taking place in Manesar --- is a fraud on the relevant Act and that the then certifying authority was a wilful partner in this fraud.
Instead of taking action against the Maruti Suzuki management and also against the state certifying authority who was in connivance with the former, the state government is now trying to brazenly cover up the illegal actions of the company.
RIGHT TO FORM
That workers have the right to form a union or association of their own choice, is enshrined in our Constitution. If the employers or industrialists have their own option to form the FICCI, CIL, ASSOCHAM etc to represent their views, there is no law in the land which can deny the workers in Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki their right to form a union of their own choice, whether independent or otherwise. The present union is an independent one and the management had been pressurising the workers to form a union of the management’s choice. The workers had been resisting this illegal coercion for the last three months.
The state government of Haryana has been playing the role of a loyal cohort aiding this coercive action of the management. The application of registration of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union was almost instantly rejected by the Additional Registrar of Trade Unions, Haryana, in a most arbitrary and irregular manner --- as a supplement to the Maruti Suzuki management’s coercive exercise to crush the initiative of forming a trade union in the Manesar plant.
This is the crux of the present struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers against a repressive and aggressive foreign company which is bent upon thrusting its own arbitrary writ in the area, overriding all the laws of the land. The state government’s machinery in Haryana --- whether labour administration or police administration --- is bending backward to show its loyalty to the foreign investor, in abetting the open violations of laws of the land and repression of democratic rights of the workers. The government of India is a silent spectator in spite of the labour secretary’s open challenge to the Maruti Suzuki’s human resource practice and the demand of all the central trade unions for immediate intervention by the government to ensure the withdrawal of the said bond and other victimisation measures and for restoration of industrial peace and harmony in the Gurgaon Manesar area.
The “Suzukiland” in Manesar is not an isolated case of industrial unrest and blatant labour law violations. This kind of jungle raj is pervading in most of the new industrial establishments here, where the so called investor friendly regimes have allowed a free hand to the employers for going back to the age of “bonded labour.” In the national industrial scenario obtaining today, the brave and courageous young workers of Manesar are to be saluted for exposing these ugly faces of neo-liberalism --- the tin-pot dictators of Maruti Suzuki and their boot-lickers in the government machineries. The trade union movement in the country must have to take up this issue in all seriousness in order to combat the design of the corporate captive governments who want to serve their corporate masters and for this purpose deprive the workers of their basic right to form a trade union of their own choice.