Maruti Case<>Indian Contract Labour Act, 1970
[box_dark]The appeal letter from the employees< By Shiv Kumar, General Secretary, MSEU on behalf of MSEU, SPIEU and SMIEU201115th October> of Maruti had contained the following –[/box_dark]
1-The Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU), Suzuki Powertrain India Employees Union (SPIEU) and Suzuki Motorcycle India Employees Union (SMIEU) been on strike in plants in Gurgaon-Manesar from the 7th of October, 2011, demanding rights to respectable and non-precarious employment and unionization.
2-It was a struggle for dignity and right to organise, more importantly for the contract workers among them. Because their working conditions had questioned the Labour Act itself.
3-To break the unity of employees ,the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Manesar continued to indulge in anti-worker activities and increasingly harass them with the absolute complicity of the state administration. The management began violating the terms of the last agreement from the very next day of calling off the 33day long strike continuing from August 29th till a settlement was reached on the 30th September. They flatly refused to let the over 1,200 contract workers enter the factory, so as to divide the unity between permanent and contract workers. It shuffled permanent workers from their workstations so that allegations of `production sabotage’ could be put on the rest. Bus service was also stopped to further harass them. Bouncers threatened and attacked . They even attempted to actualise their threat by coming with guns inside the Suzuki Motorcycle plant on the 9th morning and firing on comrades there.
4-The state and central government acted hand-in-glove with the management. Earlier it merely gave empty promises. The number of police personnel, stationed inside the factory increased first to 1,500 and soon to 2,500.
5-Labourers claimed that management tried to push them into starvation by occupying the canteen and dismantling set-up to cook food for those inside the factories, and soon also blocked the water supply and locked up the toilet. The attacks on some of fellow workers and the brutal lathi-charge on the workers of Honda in 2005.
“ In India, contract labourers are protected by the Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act, 1970. A contract labourer is defined in the Act as one who is hired in connection with the work of an establishment by a principal employer through a contractor”
1. The issues which had cropped up in Maruti in the last year should have been enough for the top management to realize the areas of concern of the organization. In the Occurring since the previous year we observe how needs and concerns were reflected in the appeal letter from the united group of employees and the loopholes in their management by Maruti ,but were not addressed to seriously by the management .
2. The permanent workers of the organization had pointed out clearly in their appeal that they were more concern of not only their terms with the management but more for the contract labourers since the working conditions for them was much more unfair .They collectively demanded a hike in pay ,and were not being addressed fairly upon it by the management.
3. In the Indian Contract Labour Act , it was prescribed that the contract workers must be provided with proper facilities of clean drinking water and certain health and welfare regulations . Maruti during the protests and lock-outs had tried to suppress the employees by creating a divide amongst the permanent and contract workers and by stopping some basic amenities required by them. This made the workers more aggressive and lead to further agitations amongst the layers of the organization .
4. In the Indian Contract Labour Act it was also mentioned that the if the contractor fails to provide the facilities to the labourers, the responsibility falls on the principal employer .But in Marutis case, as reports revealed, keen actions were not taken up by the executives to address the labour issues, but they were ignored and considered to be minute enough to suppress by power.
5. Also during the discussions with the H.R.Executive Mr.Awanish Kumar Dev this year in July, regarding the issue of suspended worker Jiyalal who had slapped a supervisor over alleged caste remarks. The matter had almost reached to a consensus that Jiyalal would be asked to join the next day. But on the instance of the order being demanded to be issued immediately , another senior level executive refused to do so and said that the union leader along with the others would be sacked. This was the U-Turn where situations went out of control and the labourers revolted vehemently killing the H.R. In this situation we should not ignore the fact that during a labour meet ,the situation always demands the workers to be dealt with patience ,and any act of impulsiveness can worsen situations ,as in the case of Maruti .
6. Excessive Competition Leading to Collusive Agreements and Corrupt Practices – In Maruti as the
Volume of business went down since last year they operated at a very low margin. This situation often leads them to collude with the principal employer and sometimes even with the labour inspector and compete effectively in the market by reducing cost through cutting down the wages and benefits of contract labour and thereby violating the provisions of the act. Though for obvious reasons none of them confided to be engaged in any corrupt activities, but the wage Payment of workers had always been a dispute in the organization and somewhere the root because too resulting in shaking the entire system. Maruti had spent approximately INR 400 Crores during the period just to save INR100 crores of investment on the contract labourers.
(as reported by our correspondence writer Shweta Tiwari)