The Maruti-Suzuki management’s claim that they had stopped employing contract workers, after the 18 July 2012 conflagration, was proved to be a falsehood early this morning as the nearly three thousand ‘temporary workers’ protested at the Manesar factory gate at the start of this morning’s shift demanding their constitutional right of equal pay for equal work. The workers who were engaged in a peaceful demonstration at the factory gate from 6am were brutally attacked and some grievously injured by the Haryana police who were assisted by Maruti-Suzuki hired goons. Several of the workers were dragged away in police vans. Some of the workers who were illegally dismissed after 18 July 2012 were arrested although they were released this evening.
This morning’s protest came in response to Maruti-Suzuki management’s ‘in-principle’ agreement to an increase in the wages for permanent workers at the Gurgaon and Manesar car plants and the power train factory with the respective plant-level trade unions. When arriving at this agreement the Maruti-Suzuki management discriminated between permanent and ‘temporary’ workers and refused to entertain the demands of the ‘temporary’ workers for equal wages for equal work. The Maruti- Suzuki Management also sidestepped the unresolved issue of the 2300 workers illegally dismissed at the Manesar plant in August 2012. It may be recalled that the denial of equal wage for equal work was what led to the yet unresolved dispute of 2012.
Maruti-Suzuki never fails in engaging in brutality to divide its workers. Central to Maruti-Suzuki’s profit model is carrying on production through large numbers of unprotected workers by whatever title: contract, casual, trainee, apprentice and temporary. Brutalising temporary workers and denying them equal wages for equal work is as much the core business of Maruti-Suzuki as it is to make cars. For every 2 permanent workers in a Maruti-Suzuki factory there are 5 temporary workers. In the three years since the events of July 2012, Maruti-Suzuki has increased its profit-per- car by Rs. 8295. In contrast wage costs per car manufactured have only increased by Rs. 3,300. In other words: profits-per-car have increased two- and-a-half times faster than wages over the three years between 2012-13 and 2014-15. For Maruti-Suzuki it clearly pays to have barbaric employment practices.
The Government of Haryana, whether led by Congress or BJP, displays a clear class character. The present BJP government has not merely looked the other way but it faithfully deployed its police force this morning to complete the task for the Maruti-Suzuki management while the Labour Department should have been called in, in the first instance, to assist in resolving the dispute. For ‘Make in India’ to succeed the BJP governments ‘minimum governance’ and ‘ease of business’ means a savage police force and a somnolent Labour Department.
The New Trade Union Initiative joins in solidarity with the brutalised and arrested workers of the Maruti-Suzuki Manesar factory and calls upon the government to ensure that:
(i) A judicial enquiry is ordered into the violence unleashed by Haryana police on the workers of the Maruti-Suzuki Manesar plant this morning,
(ii) Undertake a publically transparent investigation – including by involving the leadership of Maruti Suzuki Workers Union – into the violation of employment statutes and in particular the law on equal wages for equal work at the Maruti-Suzuki Manesar factory and
(iii) The 2300 workers illegally dismissed in 2012 are reinstated forthwith.Gautam Mody