Tag Archives: Unions

All Is Not Well at AUD: Natasha Narwal

Guest post by NATASHA NARWAL

Ambedkar University Delhi, a recently established State University in the NCR, has become the new buzz in the academic circles of the Capital. It is seen as space full of creative opportunities by an academic community exhausted by bureaucratic regimes and the sheer weight of established institutions stifling any real creativity and innovations in most central Universities. In a recent article in Economic and Political Weekly, Janaki Nair described AUD as a ‘viable, vibrant space of thinking and learning, striving to provide affordable and yet sustainable fee structures and encouraging creativity and non-hierarchical structures of learning.’ To be fair, such perceptions are not entirely baseless. As it is a recently established University, almost everything, from the various schools, courses, syllabus even physical infrastructure is in the making without very rigid contours. All this gives one a sense of an innovative and fluid space. Many of the faculty members indeed do strive hard to design courses in consultation with students and give them space to express themselves. But beneath this, on the grounds, all is not well at AUD. Continue reading All Is Not Well at AUD: Natasha Narwal

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