A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 39, 20 – 26 SEPTEMBER 2011
Maruti Workers' Movement:
Resisting Exploitation And Defending Democracy
The workers' struggle at the Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant has, once again, exposed the ugly and exploitative underbelly of liberalised 'growth'. The intrepid struggle of young workers there is a glaring reminder that in the celebrated industrial enclaves of the national capital region, profit margins are extracted by abuse of contract labour laws, relentlessly exploitative work conditions – and above all by the brute suppression of the basic democratic right to organise and unionise. It is bringing home the fact that the Government of Haryana is treating the workers' legally mandated right to unionise as disruptive; while it is condoning and even defending the flagrantly illegal lockout by the management!
Since the Maruti workers' strike was defeated in 2000, the management had allowed only a pocket union to function. In the past few years, the automobile industry has chosen to cope with recession by imposing even more exploitative work conditions and even more restricted democracy. This may be the reason why many recent instances of workers' resistance and severe repression have been witnessed in the automobile sector – at Honda in 2005, at Pricol in 2009, at Rico in 2009 followed by the workers' strike in Gurgaon, and at Maruti in 2011.
A majority of the Maruti workers are contract workers, most of them skilled – who are paid less than half the salary for the same work, and denied various benefits. This pattern of cutting costs by employing contract labour (in violation of the labour laws) has increasingly become the norm, not only in the private sector but even in the public sector. At the Maruti Manesar struggle, a remarkable feature is the unity between the permanent and contract workers.
Some months back, the workers at Maruti's Manesar plant had formed an independent union of their own – the MSEU (Maruti Suzuki Employees Union) – to voice their grievances over the severely exploitative work conditions. When the management dismissed and suspended the MSEU leaders in June 2011, the workers went on a strike that lasted 13 days. The strike ended with an understanding that the Haryana Government and Maruti management would recognise the MSEU, take back the dismissed workers, and refrain from further victimisation. Instead, in late August, the MSEU's application for registration was turned down on technical grounds. On the heels of this rejection, the management swung into action. Workers were told that they could enter the factory premises only if they signed a 'good conduct bond' – thereby signing away their right to protest in any form. Scores of workers – all active in the formation of the union - were suspended and dismissed.
Workers refused to sign the 'good conduct bond' and began a dharna. Ever since, the gates of the factory have been encircled by hundreds of policemen behind a barricade. The bond itself is absolutely illegal, and the management's action amounts to an illegal lockout. Yet, the Haryana Government has, throughout, sided with the management against the workers. During negotiations, three top MSEU office bearers were arrested after they refused to relent till all dismissed/suspended workers were taken back. Haryana Labour Minister Shiv Charan Lal Sharma defended the arrest, accusing workers of being 'adamant' in their demand that all dismissed and suspended workers be reinstated. The Haryana Labour Commissioner has actually made the indefensible claim that the 'Good Conduct Bond' is legal, while echoing the MSI management's allegation that the MSEU and the workers' struggle is the handiwork of 'outside' elements. Meanwhile, workers in other Maruti factories in the region, as well as workers in the entire Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt have shown great solidarity with the Maruti workers' struggle.
The young, skilled workers who are at the frontline of the sustained agitation at the Maruti plant are the emerging face of a new chapter of the working class movement in India. Many of them have strong roots in rural Haryana and western UP. Their struggle is a challenge to the two foremost (and illegal) offensives on workers' rights by liberalisation and corporate capital – contractualisation of labour and denial of the right to unionise.
The Maruti workers' movement is not just a trade union struggle. Their struggle for the right to organise, unionise and protest against exploitative conditions is a crucial, and welcome, aspect of the struggle to defend democracy in India today.
AICCTU Leads Walk-Out in Protest against Maruti GM
On 19 September, the first day of the Fifth India-EU Seminar on Employment and Social Policy witnessed a spontaneous protest in solidarity with Maruti workers. The Seminar this year was being held on the theme "Occupational Safety and Health," in the presence of Mrutyunjay Sarangi, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, and a Tripartite European Union Delegation with representatives from workers' organizations, employers' organisations and government officers from various countries. Indian trade unions and representatives of companies were also present.
When Sanjay Khare, the General Manager of Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) got up to speak and extol the Maruti model of occupational safety, AICCTU National Secretary Santosh Roy got up to protest. He reminded those present that Maruti workers have been on dharna for several weeks in protest against a blatantly illegal lockout by the MSI management. He declared that if the MSI representative was allowed to speak, AICCTU would walk out in protest. After this, leaders of other central TUs also followed suit – and the MSI representative was forced to step down.
Call for Relief Action For Quake and Flood Victims
CPI(ML) expresses sorrow at the earthquake that hit eastern India and Nepal, wreaking devastation and death. While there have been a dozen deaths in West Bengal and six deaths in Bihar, among the Indian States Sikkim has been worst hit, with the death toll reportedly crossing 90 and likely to rise. The party extends condolences and stands by the families of the victims.
In a situation where people lie buried under debris, time is of the essence in rescue and relief operations. CPI(ML) expresses concern at rescue and relief operations which appear to be inadequate and delayed in the case of Sikkim. More than two days passed after the calamity before rescue teams could reach the worst hit areas of Mangan and Chungthan. Reportedly, food and other essentials are yet to reach all the survivors.
Meanwhile coastal Odisha too has been facing massive devastation by floods. Coastal districts of Kendrapara and Puri are worst affected. The floods have claimed over 40 lives and the toll continues to rise, while over 20 lakh people have lost their homes.
CPI(ML) calls for relief action all over the country to reach out to those affected by the earthquake in Sikkim and other states, and floods in Odisha.
Left Convention at Kolkata–Towards a fighting Left Alternative in WB
Four Left organizations from West Bengal– CPI(ML)Liberation, Democratic Communist Party (Marxist), Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists and Marxbadi Mancha organised a convention at Kolkata on 15 September on behalf of the All India Left Co-ordination. The convention was held at the historical University Institute Hall in the College Street area and was attended by a very enthusiastic crowd of around thousand people coming from different parts of the state, which also included quite a few disillusioned individuals who once belonged to the Left Front fold. Abdur Rezzak Mollah of CPI(M), who was the Land and Land Revenue Minister under the dethroned LF Govt and who has come out openly and fiercely against the Land policy of the previous LF Govt was also supposed to attend the Convention. But, he had to stay back under pressure from his party bosses. However, he sent a message to the convention agreeing in principle to its objective and supporting the resolutions proposed in the approach paper circulated in advance. The speakers at the convention were– Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya from CPI(ML)Liberation, Mangatram Pasla from CPM(Punjab), Aloke Nandy from DCP(M), Santosh Rana from PCC-CPI(ML), Jayanta Gupta Bhaya from Marxbadi Mancha, Taramani Rai from CPRM, noted poet and litterateur Nabarun Bhattacharya and renowned economist Subhendu Dasgupta. The meeting was presided over by Comrade Partha Ghosh, Secretary, WB State Committee of CPI(ML)Liberation.
Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya emphasized on the need for building up a strong anti-corruption movement in the country in view of the unprecedented magnitude and frequency of scams coming to the fore in recent past. Reacting to the comments that the ongoing anti-corruption movement seeks to undermine the role of the Parliament and hence democracy, he commented that the demand for independence from the British rule was not raised from the parliament, but by millions of the ordinary people pouring on to the streets and fields. He strongly criticized the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill tabled in the Parliament recently, stating that language of the Bill has been couched in such a manner that it does provide for acquisition of land for private purposes. He demanded scrapping of the Bill in its entirety and instead stressed on the need for passing an Act for protecting the rights of the peasants on their land. He also criticised the recent land use policy framed by the new West Bengal Govt.
Comrade Dipankar disagreed that the Left in India is facing a crisis due to the debacle faced by the Left Front in the latest assembly elections held this year. He said that the extreme anti-people role of the 34 year long rule of the Left Front government brought about its fall. Parliamentary power never determined the crisis of the Left. On the contrary, the present situation holds out immense potential for regeneration of the Left in India in general and West Bengal in particular and the genuine Left must seize this opportunity by all means.
The Convention ended with proposing and subsequently passing 19 resolutions that covered issues of corruption, land, livelihood, security of the people and democracy. Please see the upcoming issue of Liberation (October edition) for details on this Convention.
Nalanda: Bihar Police Brutalises Women Demanding Justice
AIPWA Leaders Vist Nalanda, Met Victims
Statewide Protest Declared on 22 September
Hundreds of women in Nalanda, who assembled at the Noorsarai Police Station waiting to hear from senior police officials (SP and DIG) some words of assurance and action in the case of Noorsarai's Panchayat Secretary Reena Devi who is still untraceable, instead received traumatic blows by Nalanda police who rained lathi blows on them. About 50 women are injured and of the 25 still (16 September) in hospitals, 20 are women.
An All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) led fact finding team comprising AIPWA's General Secretary Meena Tiwari and State Secretary Shashi Yadav visited Nalanda and met the women injured in the police attack and also the family members of Sushma alias Reena Devi. Three CPI(ML) leaders were also part of the team- Surendra Prasad, Anil Patel and Aarti Devi.
The issue relates to the abduction of Sushma alias Reena Devi on the night of 26 August 2011. Her 12 year old son Saurabh is witness to his mother being tongue-tied and then abducted. Reena Devi's husband is a night watchman in the local school Kasturba Vidyalaya. When he returned home in the morning, a horrified Saurabh broke the news to him. Soon, he along with Reena's father and some other relatives reached Noorsarai PS to lodge an FIR. Reena Devi has not been found out till today (16 September). The family has strong apprehensions that she has been killed and her body dumped somewhere. They also said that Reena Devi's husband's younger brother and sister, and the jamadar of Noorsarai PS Ashok Singh are involved in the crime. Panchayat Secretary Reena Devi had a graduate degree and she was popular in the region due to her helpfulness and honesty. She was opposed to the police-criminal nexus in her village and Ashok Singh who patronised the criminals considered her an obstacle for his nefarious activities.
The agitated villagers have been running from pillar to post including CM's janta darbar to secure justice for Reena. It was in this context that they were invited by the police officials at the Police Station (Noorsarai) where DIG and SP of police were also present. The injured women in hospital told the AIPWA team that they along with all others had gone to the PS only on an invitation from the SP and DIG of police where they were questioned one-by-one in presence of these senior officials. After the questioning the women and villagers were standing nearby waiting to hear from the SP and DIG expecting action against criminals involved and Jamadar Ashok Singh. But to the villagers' shock they announced that the police are not involved.
What followed soon was a ruthless assault on the women and villagers by the policemen in front of the SP and DIG. Young or old no one was spared from brutality and the injured women narrated how they were targeted in their inner parts. The policemen also showered obscenely abusive language. The women said that the SP and DIG actually invited them not for any enquiry but to get them beaten up.
The AIPWA team saw that the injured women are still in severe pain and no serious effort is there from the Hospital Administration to care for their wounds. Three women are being made to adjust on beds meant for one patient thereby further increasing their pain as they can't relax. When the team tried to meet the Hospital Superintendent, they were told that he was on leave. All this shows utter insensitivity of the Nitish Kumar's Govt. The attack on women also exposes autocratic Nitish Govt.
AIPWA has demanded immediate action against the SP (Jitendra Rana) and DIG (Vineet Vinayak) and their suspension. Govt cannot escape from its accountability by suspending a few lower level police personnel. Reena's killers must be arrested and Ashok Singh must be suspended.
AIPWA has declared a march from Bihar Sharif to Noorsarai and protest demonstrations at every district headquarter on 22nd September.
Jahanabad: Protest March and CM's Effigy Burnt
Protesting against the barbaric attack on people demanding justice and security at Noorsarai on 14 September, the CPI(ML) held a march at Jahanabad on 15 September. Starting from the District office the protesters burnt an effigy of Bihar Chief Minister when the march reached Arwal more. The march was led by CPI(ML)'s District Secretary Comrade Sriniwas Sharma who said that Nitish's mask of 'sushan' (good governance) is exposed in his home constituency of Nalanda where the police continue to assault its victims, women and children even after they have fallen to ground. Such a treatment of women who were demanding justice for another woman (Reena Devi) exposes the real state of women's security and empowerment under the present Nitish-led NDA Govt. From Forbesganj to Noorsarai, the Govt has so far protected all the senior-rank police officers colluding in the crime.
Resisting the Politics of Fake Encounters,
Framing and Witch-Hunt of Minorities!
All India Students Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Organisation (RYA) held a Public Meeting at Batla House, New Delhi, on the third anniversary of Batla House "Encounter" reiterating the demand for a Judicial Enquiry into the case and against witch-hunt of minorities in India. At the meeting AISA also released a report based on a fact finding visit to Malegaon and Azamgarh undertaken by members of AISA's Delhi Unit. The meeting was attended in large numbers by students of three universities- Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, students and residents of Jamia Nagar, Batla House, Okhla Vihar and the vicinity.
Sandeep Singh, AISA National President addressed the gathering and spoke about his experiences and truths from the fact finding visit. He concluded by saying the clock at the Bhiku Chowk in Malegaon where the bomb blast took place in 2006 has been stopped by the people in Malegaon. He urged the students and community members to take the responsibility of getting that clock ticking towards justice and hope.
Ajit Sahi, senior journalist, also addressed the gathering and termed the "encounter" as cold blooded murder. He also said that no Indian irrespective of her/his religion or faith needs a certificate of citizenship from this corrupt fascist and communal government.
Swapan Mukherjee, CPI(ML) CC member and AICCTU General Secretary, said that the youth and students of this country have to be the torch bearers in working towards a secular, democratic India.
Party's Delhi State Conference
The 9th Delhi State Conference of the CPI(ML) was held on 17 and 18 September 2011 at Comrade Ram Naresh Ram Hall (MP Club, South Avenue, New Delhi). The Conference began with hoisting of the party flag by veteran party leader of Delhi Comrade Mulkraj.
112 delegates and 11 guests attended the Conference. Comrade Saroj Chaubey was the Central Observer. Secretary of the outgoing State Committee Comrade Sanjay Sharma presented the draft report which was passed unanimously by the house after two days' debate and discussion.
The Conference resolved to intensify the struggle against the policies of privatization, corruption and state repression; to expose the elitist model of urban development and struggle for an alternative policy framework that will address common people's basic needs in an urban society and provide them proper democratic space; to develop mass-resistance on the issues of working people and common masses. The Conference, adopting the draft document, resolved that the party must understand the changing profile of the working class in Delhi, and expand and deepen its political base among different sections of workers that would serve as the core of the party's work in an urban centre.
This time many delegates were attending a Conference for the first time and around 40 new members from among workers and students also observed the Conference. Party CCMs Comrades Rajendra Pratholi, Prabhat Kumar and Swapan Mukherjee addressed the Conference.
The Conference elected a 27 member new State Committee, re-electing Comrade Sanjay Sharma as State Secretary.
Demonstration against Murder of Dalits in Police Firing in TN
7 dalits were killed in a police firing in Tamilnadu on 11 September when they gathered to proceed to pay homage to a dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran in Paramakudi. John Pandian, a dalit leader, was held when he was on his way to pay homage and his supporters protested the arrest. Police fired at them indiscriminately and 6 fell dead on the spot and one succumbed to the police bullets later. Over 1000 were arrested and Sec.144 was imposed.
Jayalalitha initially defended police action saying firing was done in self defence. After protests against firing all over the state she ordered a judicial enquiry. Party demanded immediate suspension of those police personnel who are responsible for the killings and demanded Rs.10 lakh as compensation to the families of the killed. Party also demanded proper treatment and compensation for the injured.
Party immediately released a poster all over the State condemning the firing and held demonstrations stressing these demands in Chennai, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. A fact-finding team has also gone to the affected areas.
Shaheed Mela in Bhojpur
Like every year, Shaheed Mela in memory of martyred peasants of 1942 movement was organized on 15 September at Lasarhi in Bhojpur. A mass meeting was also held which was addressed by the National President of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA), Comrade Rameshwar Prasad. He mentioned in his address that their ancestors did not sacrifice their lives so that the capitalists, corrupt and looters can rule the country and foreign corporations can take control of our natural and human resources.
Peasants from Lasarhi and nearby villages had challenged the British rule and sacrificed their life fighting them in 1942. Very few people/historians knew about this great patriotism of the Bhojpur peasantry until one of the hero of Bhojpur's revolutionary peasant movement Comrade Ram Naresh Ram started collecting facts on this after he was elected to the Bihar Assembly in 1980's. He got a memorial built and started a tradition for holding this Shaheed Mela every year.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.cpiml.org