Thursday, September 22, 2016

fms Sep 2016

"Ha-ha-ha-ha! It makes sense now, why it’s so prevalent, the image of worker as helpless."

"But uncle, these images harm. They do not help us get leverage."

"Agreed. It is difficult to bring the audacious arguments of the shop floor to life in general."

"These arguments do keep surfacing. But where, how, and how to persist with them is the question."

Faridabad Majdoor Samachar (Faridabad Workers’ News)
Issue # 339
September 2016

Page 1: Collision between the Subterranean and the Manifest
Page 2: Counteracting Forces in Face of Legal Violations + Management Gurus’ Headstands
Page 3: The End of Middlemen + Commoning
Page 4: Silent Withdrawal + A Million Tea-break Mutinies

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Distribution is over one month from 25 places in Faridabad, Okhla, Gurgaon, NOIDA and Manesar. Through this, we enter into thousands of conversations. Please write to us if you would like to join us; we will let you know of the place and time.

fms Sep 2016 by baatein1 on Scribd

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On loosening the control of middlepersons

translation from August 2016 issue of FMS

Bellsonica auto components: On Aug 3, 2016, the management on its own made the following proposals at the Labour department: all the dismissed permanent workers and trainees will be taken back; permanent workers and trainees will be paid for the days that they were kept out of work; 32 trainees shall be made permanent; other matters will be settled with the union in the factory within 2-3 months. The Labour officer also keenly said that he would not sign on the settlement unless the company gave an oral assurance to take back the dismissed workers hired through contractor companies. The union leaders of Bellsonica, who are permanent workers, said that if the dismissed workers hired through contractor companies are not paid by the management for the days that they have been kept out of work, then the leaders will distribute the pay received by permanent and trainee workers among all the workers equally. A tripartite settlement between Bellsonica management, the union and Labour department was signed on Aug 3.

The events at Bellsonica have been described in the June and July 2016 issues of Majdoor Samachar. The union leaders had called for a hunger strike on the Sunday, July 3rd outside government offices which remain closed on Sundays. Following the hunger strike, the permanent workers, trainees and workers hired through contractor companies at the factory started making a dent in the production. The July 12th date at the High Court went by without event. Bellsonica workers turned out in large numbers at the Sunday Struggle on July 18th arranged by the Maruti Suzuki Manesar Union outside government offices at 4 p.m.

In the past 9-10 months, there has been a substantial increase in the bonds, coordination, talmel between the permanent workers, trainees and workers hired through contractor companies at the Bellsonica factory. Although, the union registration was worked out by middlepersons from outside, the actual worker organization arising in factories out of prevalent circumstances has made the factory union leaders distance themselves from these outsider middlepersons. The seven suspended union leaders are active among the 140 dismissed workers and within the factory, the 11 member union executive and 60 coordinators are actively facilitating exchange among nearly 1000 workers. The workers have greatly weakened the control of the Bellsonica management on the factory floor. All the workers – permanent, trainees, workers hired through contractor companies have refused to work overtime on many days. The assembly lines of Maruti Suzuki cars are being affected. Maruti Suzuki has a 30% share in Bellsonica. Hence the proposal put forth on Aug 3, 2016.

The management does not want that the workers in the factory unionize. More accurately, it can be said that managements do not want unions in factories as long as there is not much coordination or solidarity between workers. The reason is that managements steal from companies and pay workers less than what is shown on paper. For instance, at Bellsonica factory itself “trainee 1 and workers hired through contractors are paid only Rs 6573 even while their wages are shown on paper as Rs 8500 – they say that 24% has been deducted towards PF but show only 12% deduction on the pay slip” - this was reported in the April 2013 issue of Majdoor Samachar.

Companies have chairmen, managing directors, CEOs, other directors, presidents, general managers, other managers, supervisors etc. Companies have managements. Companies don't have owners.

It is when bonds, coordination and solidarity between the workers increase that the managements want union formation within the factory. The management makes efforts to form unions going as far as sending Managers to Chandigarh to get the union registered. And then managements make the union and some union leaders appear important – all to keep the workers under control. By recognizing unions, managements exercise extra legal methods also to control workers and maintain and increase production. This used to happen even in the days when most workers at the factory were permanent. This is what happened at the East India Cotton Mill at Faridabad in 1969. Again, it happened in Faridabad at Escorts Tractor and motorcycle factories and Gedore Hand Tools. At present, most workers at the factory are temporary workers. Hence, it only helps the management that the law allows only permanent workers at the factory to become members of the factory union. At Maruti Suzuki Manesar, the management was initially firmly opposed to forming a second union at the factory. But, in 2011, the management played a pro active role in getting the second union registered when the bonds, solidarity and coordination greatly increased amongst the permanent workers, trainees, apprentices and workers hired through contractor companies. Later, on 26th September 2015, in opposition to the 3 year settlement signed on September 24, 2015 between the management and union, when the temporary workers at the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory stopped work, fought the goons brought over by the company and tried to face the police, the union cooperated with the management to keep production going at the factory. At the Napino Auto and Electronics Factory, 140 workers hired through contractor companies working at the factory for 5-10 years who had played an active role in forming a union at the factory, were dismissed by the management on 28 June 2016 with the support of the union. At the Manesar factory of Honda two-wheelers, after the union was formed in 2005, it signed a three year settlement with the management in 2006 which was opposed by the temporary workers. The temporary workers stopped work for 5 days but the union stood in support with the management. Recently, when a new management-union three year settlement was signed, temporary workers boycotted meals at the canteen for two days while the union sided with the management and the permanent workers continued to have meals at the canteen. And at Asti Electronics factory, within a year of union formation, 380 temporary workers who were very active in forming the union were thrown out of the factory by the management with the help of the union.

Such is the scenario, the state of affairs. The Bellsonica management's encouragement for union formation at the factory has to be examined in this light. According to a source observing the events unfolding at Bellsonica from proximity, the management's agenda is to strengthen its control by using the union to bring down the number of proactive workers from 1,000 to 150. It is necessary to be wary of quick-fix advisors of various hues, especially workers hired through contractor companies and trainees need to be watchful. But being watchful is not enough. It is necessary for all workers to think in a new way and act to form new structures. And the tea workers of Munnar and garment workers of Bengaluru are already progressing in this direction. New structures need to emerge and are emerging with workers approaching workers, workers forming bonds, relations and increasing coordination with other workers within the factory, between factories, within the industrial area, between industrial areas, and at dwelling quarters. We are living in the times of lively pulses of global wage workers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The role of middlepersons in these times

translation from July 2016 issue of FMS

The role of Middlepersons in these times
• When a hundred persons speak, they say thousand different things, in thousands of different ways. People are speaking up in hundreds, thousands, millions, a 7 billion people.
• How can one talk to 500 people? Select 5 persons and send them for discussion! When the selected ones are sincere and honest they get outmaneuvered and if they turn dishonest, they sell-out.
• In the conflict between self-action, acting in groups and acting by means of a representative-leader, the representatives-leaders are being beaten up.
Everyone compromises and sells-out. All leaders are cheats. It's common to hear this every where the world over. Yet, conditions are created for intervention by such middlemen.
• Bonds between workers weaken the control of the company on the factory. Increasing bonds and coordination attain the potential of dislodging the control of the company. In the process, there are incidents of workers dismissed from jobs and police action which create space for middlepersons. Space is created for middlepersons – space emerges for middlepersons - when the workers look to law-legislature-government for immediate relief from suspension-dismissal-arrest-court cases.
Workers do not get relief through middlepersons. In pursuit of relief, middlepersons take workers through a tiring grind of memoranda-court dates-protest-demonstrations and assurances. Honda Tapukara is again an example of relief for the companies coming from the work of middlepersons. And, Bellsonica Manesar is yet another example of companies getting relief by means of middlepersons.

Honda Tapukara

A description of the unrest at the Honda factory in district Alwar, Rajasthan can be found in the March 2016 issue.

On 16th February, in order to stem the upsurge of temporary and permanent workers, the workers were evicted from the factory by means of police action. Following that, a huge number of new temporary workers were recruited and the factory was kept operational through them and a few permanent workers. In parallel, the workers evicted from the factory were made to run around Gurgaon, Jaipur, Alwar by middlepersons for obtaining relief.

On 6th June, there was a settlement between the Honda management and unions in the presence of the Labour Commissioner of Rajasthan government. Out of more than 4,000 workers evicted from the factory, 256 permanent workers were to go back to work at the factory starting 8 June. As for the rest, it was decided to have talks on 13 June at the Labour Department.

The union thanked the Honda management and Labour Department of Rajasthan Government in press releases.

On 8 June, the permanent workers went into the factory to work in accordance with the settlement.

And then, come 13th June, the Honda management never showed up for the talks scheduled at the Labour department. The company bluntly said that it would not recall even a single worker of the thousands of temporary workers evicted from the factory.

102 permanent workers of Honda Tapukara have been dismissed and 47 have been suspended.

With the Honda management “going back on its words”, the union has once more started a series of protest-demonstration-appeals since 20th June.

Bellsonica Manesar

Description of the happenings at Bellconica factory can be found in the June 2016 issue.

Union has kept saying: Workers will benefit from peacefully keeping up regular production at the factory, through the Labour department and the Courts. Far from the workers gaining anything through these things going on since 1.5 years, the company has instead fired many permanent, trainees and workers hired through contractor companies.

In June, workers at the factory bluntly told the union leaders that the union right away do something for immediate relief failing which the workers would act on their own.

The union which had been holding out hopes since months for the decisive date of 12 July at the High Court, taxed its brains and made a plan: kill the snake, yet do not break the stick. To ensure that the production does not suffer, the company does not face losses, the company does not get annoyed – the weekly off day in the factory was chosen. Lot of thought also went into the “action” to be taken - to act without putting the government authorities under pressure, or tension, without being a bother, without angering them. A Sunday was found to be the best choice. 6,000 handbills were printed for distribution. 1,500 posters were printed for putting up in Dharuhera, Bawal, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Delhi University and IMT Manesar. Towards the end of June, the union kept busy many workers working in Belsonica factory and their colleagues outside the factory.

Sunday is a holiday at the factory. Government offices are closed on Sundays. Hence, the middlepersons calling for revolution-vivolution announce:
Program : Collective Hunger Strike
Venue : Mini Secretariat, Gurgaon
Time : 9 AM – 5 PM
Date : July 3 2016
• We are not talking about 1 or 2 workers. We are talking about groups of workers. It is clear what worker groups should not do. On being fired from work, arrested, embroiled in Court cases – in such situations having expectations from law-legislature-government is akin to getting trapped in a mire for worker groups.
So the important questions are : Who to look to? Who to approach? Who to talk to? What-all to do? From our side, to initiate discussion we would say: workers should look towards other workers, workers should approach other workers, workers should talk to other workers. The points of departure to think and act together are the forming of bonds, coordination amongst workers within the factory, between factories, within the industrial area, between industrial areas, and at dwelling quarters. It is necessary to increase them.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July fms 2016

“Uncle, have you heard of the latest invention: The Sunday Struggle?”


“Exactly! It’s the day leaders prefer workers to hunger strike, gather outside State offices, distribute pamphlets and oppose management dictatorship on shop floors.”

“You mean on the weekly off day?”

“Exactly! Production stays safe. Companies stay safe. Officials stay safe. Nothing is harmed, no one is rankled.”

“And the rest of the week?”

“The week is ours. We do what we will, without the trap of negotiation. One could say we’ve left leaders with Sundays.”

Faridabad Majdoor Samachar (Faridabad Workers’ News)
Issue # 337
July 2016

Page 1: Presenting Sunday Struggles
Page 2: Cracking, Crackling Companies
Page 3: Crumbling Helplessness + Commoning
Page 4: Hijack updates from Honda Tapukara & Bellsonica Mansesar

FMS_July2016 by baatein1 on Scribd

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bellsonica Auto Components

translation from June 2016 issue of FMS

In the Bellsonica factory located at Plot-1 Sector-8, IMT Manesar (inside Maruti Suzuki campus), parts for Maruti Suzuki cars such as front pillar, front end, center pillar, rear framework, side bumper framework etc are made by 89 permanent workers (technician), 354 trainees and 500 workers hired through 4 contractor companies. 45 workers of the permanent workforce had just got their union registered when the management suspended all of them on Oct 10, 2014. The management then formed a committee of some permanent workers and attempted to create an atmosphere of fear in the factory.

The workers work hard at the factory: Sheet metal work. 1,500 ton and 1,600 ton transfer press, 1,000 to 300 ton tandem line, 300 to 80 ton progressive press and along with that 145 spot welding robots, 23 AW welding robots, manual welding, station spot welding. And in the B shift, work for 12 hours is compulsory. The difference between the wages of permanent, trainee and workers hired through contractor companies is not much and all workers do work. All the workers have similar uniforms. Conditions are fertile for good bonds between all the workers - permanent and temporary ones. Even under such circumstances (or perhaps because of such circumstances), union registration was attempted - which was to be constrained to the 89 permanent workers. But the 45 workers who registered the union were shown the door by the management. The 45 permanent workers were then compelled to talk to and build relations with the 900 temporary workers.

Whenever meetings were called by the 45 involved in union formation, at least 700 workers would show up. The company's agents would secretly film the meetings based on which the management would expel workers. The number of expelled permanent, trainee and workers hired through contractor companies reached 180. However, in the last 6 months, the company has put a stop on expelling workers.

Bellsonica holds 70% of the shares of the company and Maruti Suzuki holds the remaining 30%. Bellsonica has 3 factories in Japan and one in Indonesia also.

The Registrar of Haryana government registered the union. Bellsonica company challenged the registration in the High Court at Chandigarh. In course of arguments, the company claimed 354 trainees as workmen (permanent) while the union claimed that trainees were not workmen (permanent). Meaning, as per the company, trainees were eligible for union membership while according to the union, trainees could not be members of the union. Supreme Court rulings were cited. Finally, the High Court dismissed the company's appeal on Dec 9, 2014. Neither the company, nor the union said anything about the 500 workers hired through contractor companies.

The 45 permanent workers went to the Labour Department to challenge their suspension. The Deputy Labour Commissioner issued summons to the Bellsonica management which the latter ignored. Acting on the report of the Deputy Labour Commissioner, the Labour Commissioner at Chandigarh served notice to the company for unfair labour practices …. served notice. The management provided the charge sheet to the suspended workers after a delay of 3 months, in January 2015, only on being ordered by the Court to do so. Leaders say that the Bellsonica management has taken the matter to a Division Bench of the High Court which heard some arguments on April 12, 2016 and fixed the next date for July 12th.

During these 1.5 years, on being asked by the union, that is the permanent workers constituting the union, the Bellsonica workers have given them Rs 2,000 on three occasions adding up to Rs 18-20 lakh. And the permanent Bellsonica workers who have become union leaders are so caught up in legalism that they present to the workers that they should maintain peace and keep up regular production – those being the workers' weapons. In these 1.5 years, work was never stopped in the factory, there were no disturbances and production went on peacefully.

85,000 unions are registered in the domain of the Indian government. According to rules-laws-legislation-constitution only permanent workers can become members of registered unions in factories. Casual workers, workers hired through contractor companies, trainees or apprentices cannot become members of these unions. Currently 80-90% workers in factories cannot become members of these unions. Bellsonica factory is not outside these rules. The examples of Honda, Maruti, Napino Auto, Munjal Kiriu, Asti Electronics – which are all factories within IMT Manesar, are before us.
• The fees for union registration is Rs 5. Typing-postage etc expenses come up to Rs 200-300.
• In factories, only permanent workers can become members of unions.
• Temporary workers cannot become members of unions in the factory. Temporary workers, casual workers, workers hired through contractor companies, trainees, apprentices cannot become members of unions in the factory.
• Currently, 80-90% workers working in factories cannot become members of factory unions.

In these circumstances, it is necessary to question legalism, to question factory unionizing. It is even more essential to increase coordination, bonding, talmel amongst workers - permanent and temporary - within the factories and industrial areas. The women workers in the garments sector in Bangalore have given a glimpse of the impact of worker coordination independent of leaders and unions – they compelled the government to cancel its new PF rules.