The Unreality of Wasseypur: Javed Iqbal

Guest post by JAVED IQBAL

Posters for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ in Dhanbad. All photographs by Javed Iqbal.

‘The ending of the film was shown properly,’ speak unanimous voices, the well-known folklore of Wasseypur, Dhanbad, ‘Gangster Shafiq Khan was really gunned down at the Topchachi petrol pump like it was shown in the first part of the film.’

‘That’s how it’s done in Dhanbad.’ Continue reading “The Unreality of Wasseypur: Javed Iqbal”

The Hooter Marks Time

Each morning, factory hooters call out to India’s 50 million industrial workers, many of whom stand by their stations and repeat a single set of tasks with unerring regularity until the hooter sounds again to signal the end of the first shift and the start of another.  Manufacturing provides employment to just 11 percent of India’s workforce, but the sector and its workers are seen as a bellwether for the economy as a whole.

Last week, a senior general manager in Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant was killed and several managers injured in a violent confrontation between workers and management, prompting national dailies to speak of the “bad old days of militant trade unionism”.   Yet, industrial unrest is at historic lows in terms of numbers of incidents and man-days lost. In 1973-74, nearly 3,00,000 strikes were called just prior to the Emergency; 2010 saw just 429 such incidents, according to data from the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute.

What accounts for this shift? Has the Indian factory become a safer, better-paid and more secure workplace?

Data suggests the opposite: Today, Indian workers are paid less in real terms than they were fifteen years ago, have less job security, and yet are less likely to strike. Workers in Haryana’s industrial belt suggest that the incident at Maruti Manesar signals the end of the all-powerful union capable of controlling the factory floor, rather than its return. Instead, industry’s reliance on casual workers has created informal leaderless networks that operate outside the framework of strikes and settlements that undergird union activity. Read more

What set off the violence at Maruti’s Manesar plant?: Anumeha Yadav

Guest post by ANUMEHA YADAV

Photos by Anumeha Yadav

The year-long industrial conflict at Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), India’s largest automobile manufacturer’s Manesar plant turned violent on 18 July. At 3:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, representatives from Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union and the Maruti management had met to discuss the reinstatement of Jiya Lal, a permanent worker who had been suspended that morning after an altercation with his floor supervisor. Lal is a Dalit and alleges that he had reacted when the supervisor made derogatory casteist remarks against him. The workers were protesting that the management had been unfair, suspending Lal from service while merely sending the supervisor home on leave for a few days. Continue reading “What set off the violence at Maruti’s Manesar plant?: Anumeha Yadav”

Gurgaon workers – damned if they do, damned if they don’t: Anumeha Yadav

Guest post by ANUMEHA YADAV

In last three weeks, over a thousand workers went on a rampage on the streets of Gurgaon in two separate incidents.  On March 19,over 2000 workers from Orient Craft, India’s largest apparel-maker and exporter, attacked the office premises pelting stones at it and set 10 vehicles on fire, including a police van. They were reacting to the news that Naseem Ahmed a worker in his 20s in the hosiery unit in Sector 34 had been stabbed in the arm with a pair of scissors by Harinder ‘Lovely’ Singh, alabour contractor at Orient Craft. Continue reading “Gurgaon workers – damned if they do, damned if they don’t: Anumeha Yadav”

Oru Kili Iru Kili – A Party in Dubai: Alia Allana

Guest post by ALIA ALLANA

For the Pilipino there was no escaping the Indian song and dance.

A tube-light flickered as loud music blared from a room at the far end of the corridor. The flickering light and the ensuing cacophony gave the corridor in Sonapur Labour Camp a surreal discotheque feel: one that the Pilipino was no longer game to. Nearer the door, voices of men dipped low and then travelled high past the room in which the tired labourer from Cebu lived.

“Oru Kili Iru Kili,” they bellowed in Malayalam and the tune filtered through the flimsy plywood door. The tired looking Pilipino pulled a face as he described the scene he had once encountered when the door was left ajar. The “party” room was clouded over with smoke and six Indian labourers from Kerala lounged cross-legged in a circle, smoking cigarettes and drinking from steel cups, writhing their bodies and shaking their hands up in the air. A bottle with no label was passed around and the brouhaha escalated to a feverish pitch. Once again the merry men burst out, “Oru Killi Iru Killi”. Continue reading “Oru Kili Iru Kili – A Party in Dubai: Alia Allana”

Bengal Power in Jaipur: Kavita Srivastava

Guest post by KAVITA SRIVASTAVA

4 October 2011

More than 3000 Domestic Workers Take to the Jaipur Streets
SHARE THEIR WOES AND DEMAND RIGHTS

PUBLIC HEARING PANEL:
• Aditi Mehta (Principal Secretary Social Justice and Empowerment),
• Anuradha Talwar. Trade Union Activist, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, Kolkata
• Jose Mohan, DCP, Jaipur Police Commissionerate
• Bhagwan Sahai Sharma, member Secretary, State Social Welfare Board,

Domestic worker women power made history today in Jaipur when they took to the streets of Jaipur and demanded their rights from the State and society. We are not “naukranis” they said. We are workers in free India and want the dignity of being a worker. We run two homes, yours and ours, can any of you in society do without our labour, they asked boldly. Ninety percent were Bengally with abotu ten percent from who had come from different parts of Rajasthan. Continue reading “Bengal Power in Jaipur: Kavita Srivastava”

Maruti Struggle Continues Despite Repression: Statement

The following is a statement issued by the MARUTI SUZUKI EMPLOYEES UNION (MSEU) on 1 September 2011
The management of Maruti Suzuki Industries Limited, Manesar plant (Plot 1, Phase 3A) has terminated 11 and suspended 38 workers on 29th and 30th August 2011, on completely fabricated charges of go-slow in production and that workers have been ‘undisciplined’. It is doing this as a continuation of harassing workers for our struggle for the right of Union formation and other legitimate rights from June 4th to 16th. It is using brute police force to intimidate us, and is also continuing to pay and use bouncers and lumpen force to continuously threaten us. The management is also spreading a rumour that the production has resumed yesterday 31 August through a handful of contract workers, some supervisors, engineers and robots. This disinformation campaign has also been splashed across the media.

Continue reading “Maruti Struggle Continues Despite Repression: Statement”