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k : keralaexchange@googlegroups.com 25 February 2012 • 8:58PM -0500

[കേരളം] Yanam is everywhere…GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 48 (March 2012)
by Venugopalan K M

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http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/


*Yanam is everywhere…*

*GurgaonWorkersNews – Newsletter 48 (March 2012)*

Gurgaon in the industrial belt of Delhi is presented as the shining India,
a symbol of capitalist success promising a better life for everyone behind
the gateway of development. At a first glance the office towers and
shopping malls reflect this chimera and even the facades of the garment
factories look like three star hotels. Behind the facade, behind the
factory walls and in the side streets of the industrial areas thousands of
workers keep the rat-race going, producing cars and scooters for the
middle-waged classes which end up in the traffic jam on the new highway
between Delhi and Gurgaon. Thousands of young proletarianised
post-graduates lose time, energy and academic aspirations on night-shifts
in call centres, selling loan schemes to working-class people in the US or
pre-paid electricity schemes to the poor in the UK. Next door, thousands of
rural-migrant workers up-rooted by the rural crisis stitch and sew for
export, competing with their angry brothers and sisters in Bangladesh,
China or Vietnam. And the rat-race will not stop; on the outskirts of
Gurgaon, new industrial zones turn soil into over-capacities. The following
newsletter documents some of the developments in and around this miserable
boom region. If you want to know more about working and struggling in
Gurgaon, if you want more info about or even contribute to this project,
please do so via:

www.gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com
gurgaon_workers_news@yaho...

*In the March 2012 issue you can read*

*** Further Material on Struggle at Maruti Suzuki, Manesar
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn1>
We translated two ‘Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Diaries’, published in Faridabad
Majdoor Samachar in December 2011 and January 2012. The diaries demonstrate
that negotiations, formally elected leaders or legal agreements are not
needed in order for workers to improve their conditions. As a result of the
unrest Maruti Suzuki offered higher wages, more holiday and much lower work
loads. Not because they faced a negotiation partner who had a disciplined
mass behind them; but because of the opposite, the management faced a
confrontation with what appeared to them to be a rather unruly mass whose
next step was not predictable. The Maruti Suzuki dispute also shows that
the long-term result of the struggle depends on the ability of workers to
go beyond the immediate sphere of their factory, without losing this base
of daily relationships. The more recent wildcat support action of Maruti
and Suzuki Powertrain workers for a workmate employed and injured at a
supplier (see report) indicates that the Maruti struggle has changed the
atmosphere amongst workers in Manesar in general. How closely related the
conditions in Manesar are to those in automobile centres across the globe
becomes visible in the current debates about EU-India trade pacts and
discussions about automatisation in the industry in India (see summary).

*** Yanam is Everywhere: Trouble at Adidas/Reebock/Puma manufacturer
Adigear, Manesar
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn2>
On 27th of January the police killed a worker at Regency Ceramics in Yanam,
Andhra Pradesh, during a conflict with the locked-out workforce in a
dispute over wages and regularisation of workers hired through contractors.
In response workers attacked the factory and managements’ houses, during
which a top manager was killed. Workers burnt down parts of the plant, the
company college, lorries and other equipment. Workers living in the area
used the opportunity to loot neighbouring companies, e.g. a cooking-gas
bottle supplier. Yanam is potentially everywhere. Below you can find a
short report about current disputes at Adigear in Manesar, a textile
manufacturer for Adidas and other international sportswear brands. During
one of the conflicts a top manager got beaten up. We see these incidents as
an expression of the increasing pressure of crisis. You can find a short
summary concerning the current threat of mass loan default of textile
companies in India – and the utter perplexity of the representatives of
capital – leaving the representatives of capital at a loss.

*** Delhi Calling: Get Involved in Faridabad Majdoor
Talmel<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn9>
To abolish the global work/war house will take more than informative
exercise! If you live in Delhi area, please be welcomed to take part in
Faridabad Majdoor Talmel – a workers’ coordination. We distribute around
9,000 copies of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar on ten days each month in
various industrial areas around Delhi. You can also participate in the
workers’ meeting places which have been opened in various workers’ areas.
If you are interested, please get in touch. For more background on
Faridabad Majdoor Talmel:

http://faridabadmajdoorsamachar.blogspot.com/p/fms-talmel.html

*** Further Material on Struggle at Maruti Suzuki, Manesar
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref1>

Between June and October 2011 around 3,500 workers at Maruti Suzuki car
plant openly confront the factory regime and its institutional allies in
Manesar, in the south of Delhi. Their struggle leaped over to other
automobile factories in the industrial corridor, which brought the world’s
third largest automobile assembly plant in nearby Gurgaon to a halt. In the
most significant workers’ struggle in India in the last two decades the
young workers managed to undermine the companies’ attempts to divide them
along the lines of temporary and permanent contracts. So far we published
three longer texts about this important experience and tried to formulate
preliminary conclusions for a necessary open debate.

GWN no.45<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-945/#fn3>
GWN no.44<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-944/>
GWN no.41<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/gurgaonworkersnews-no-941/>

In this newsletter you can find further material, mainly two ‘Maruti Suzuki
Workers’ Diaries’ , published in Faridabad Majdoor Samachar in December
2011 and January 2012. The friends of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar take it
seriously to discover and circulate this important experience, even if the
official dispute is over. It lays outside of our capacity to summarise the
slowly condensing experience into a comprehensive article. We can only
generally state that the Maruti Suzuki dispute confirmed the importance of
the ‘centrality of the factory’, as a place of direct confrontation between
the essence of capitalist relations and workers’ collective power, as a
place where the antagonistic elements of the productive cooperation
(‘working together under capitalist division of labour’) of workers is
concentrated: productive cooperation as the main source of capitalist
productivity and power and at the same time the material bases for workers’
self-organisation as an ‘proletarian inversion of cooperation’. The workers
at Maruti themselves are not different from the migrant workers in hundreds
and thousands of other factories in Gurgaon or Faridabad, and they
themselves have been working in these factories. Therefore it is not their
particularly ‘advanced consciousness’, which developed a struggle with the
most advanced forms of collective activity, questioning of legality etc.,
but their specific condition in the centre of production.

We have also seen that it does not need negotiations, formally elected
leaders or legal agreements in order to translate workers’ unrest into
material improvements. Maruti Suzuki offered higher wages, more holiday and
much lower work loads, not because they faced a negotiation partner who had
a disciplined mass behind him (sic!), but because of the opposite, the
confrontation with a – seemingly from the perspective of management –
rather unruly mass whose next step was not predictable. The Maruti Suzuki
dispute also shows that the long-term result of the struggle depends on the
ability of workers to go beyond the immediate sphere of their factory,
without losing the base of daily relationships. Their often temporary
status forces them to act towards this direction. The example of the
wildcat support action of Maruti and Suzuki Powertrain workers for a
work-mate employed at a supplier on 13th of January 2012 – see below –
shows that the Maruti struggle has changed the atmosphere amongst workers
in Manesar in general. How closely related the conditions in Manesar are to
those in automobile centres across the globe becomes visible in the current
debates about EU-India trade pacts and discussions about automatisation in
the industry in India.

*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – December 2011
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn3>
*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – January 2012
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn4>
*** Wildcat Solidarity Action for Injured Automobile Worker
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn5>
*** Update on General Situation of Automobile Industry in India
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fn6>

*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – December 2011
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref3>

* Before June 2011 the A-shift had to start work at 6 am, instead of 7 am,
and the B-shift had to work till 1:40 am, instead till midnight. These
daily two hours overtime were not officially recorded by Maruti Suzuki
management and the overtime was paid at single rate, instead of the
statutory double rate. Maruti’s official production capacity was 1 million
per year, produced and sold were 1.27 million cars last year. After the
13-days occupation of the factory in June the workers stopped working
overtime.

* A supervisor said: “After the workers had occupied the factory for a
second time they forced the company to reinstall the company bus transport.
This was good, it was an enormous effort to get to work without the busses.

* After the second agreement was settled workers signed the good-conduct
undertaking and went inside the factory on the 3rd of October. We were
scared of re-entering the factory, but the supervisors and management were
twice as scared. In all the departments workers first listened to the
sermons of the leading management and then arrived at the production lines
at 9 am. Around 30 per cent of workers were shifted from their previous
work-station to a new one. Then phone calls of workers hired through
contractors came in saying that although permanent workers and trainees
were taken back in, the workers hired through contractors were denied entry
and told to take their final dues from the contractor. People trusted the
(non-recognised) union committee, whose members had been suspended and kept
outside, people listened to their instructions. The committee said that
they gave management two to three days to take the workers hired through
contractor back on.

* On the 7th of October, when the B-shift entered the factory, people said
that “something is going to happen”. Suddenly at 3:30 pm we assembled, the
decision was made to get people together from all departments as quickly as
possible and not to leave a single person there. All workers from the ‘old’
assembly line gathered together. In addition there were around 170
permanent workers from the Manesar factory, around 700 workers from the
Maruti Gurgaon plant and more than 600 newly hired workers from ITI’s in
Kanpur, Riwa, Himanchal, Bihar, Delhi, who management had all kept inside
the plant since beginning of September. Of these workers many had been
employed at the ‘new’ assembly line. Most of these workers left the factory
at that point on their own accord. The workers immediately formed chains at
all entries and exists of the factory.

* At that point there had already been 400 police on the factory premises.
At 8 pm the chief of the local police station arrived and said: “Those
people who you force to stay, let them go”. People from management stood
further away and called individual workers by name to come forward. Some of
the workers refused to leave the factory out of fear. The next morning the
police chief returned together with contractors and made 30 to 40 rounds on
the premises.

* On the night of the 7th of October we prepared ourselves to sleep – we
gathered together all blankets and pillows and distributed them. The
company had provided these pillows and blankets for those ‘working’
workers, who stayed inside the factory 24 hours during the ‘lock-out’ in
September. We found some papers with a list of names of all those workers,
in front of each name they had written a column saying ‘pillow’, ‘vest’,
‘loin cloth’, ‘soap’, ‘tooth paste and brush’, ‘sandals’, cigarettes’. In
September, apart from these workers who stayed inside for 24 hours, busses
arrived from Gurgaon plant every day, with bouncers and workers. Management
had ‘promoted’ workers hired through contractors from Gurgaon plant to
trainees and used them for production in Manesar.

* During the time of the lock-out supervisors and managers also had trouble
over trouble. They feared for their security: would the guys storm inside
the factory and start trashing? would the guys catch you outside and trash
you? would they trash you once normality has returned? The work-load was
also extreme: they extended shifts to 12-hours, they had to produce with
new guys they did not know – so they themselves also had to work. A line
supervisor who had been brought in asked: “How do the guys who normally
work here manage to churn out so many cars? They were also worried about
their jobs.

* During the time of the occupation management ordered to retrieve a huge
die from the press shop in order to stir things up a bit and worry us. They
came with a big trailer and 100 police. We discussed: if we actively try to
hold them back, they will start beating us up. Let’s lie down in front of
the truck. So 50 of us lied down in front of it. The police chief stopped
the truck by hand signal and said to management: if you want we will get it
out by running over them. The truck remained where it was – the driver had
left.

* In addition to the 400 cops, on 13th of October 200 more police arrived
inside the plant. At night after 10 pm a chain of workers stopped an
official of the local administration, who had arrived with cameramen and 30
to 40 helmet wearing cops. The official came in order to put up the high
court order to leave the factory. After discussion the factory committee
gave their permission to put up the court order. Things were very chaotic
at that point – when the official put up the document they shot photos,
when they spoke to the committee they took photos. After we read the order
there first was a bit of confusion, but then the decision was made not to
leave the factory. Also the decision to keep calm. The police had stopped
any food or other things from entering the factory since the afternoon.
During the night of the 13th of October we were hungry, we passed the night
by talking. The left-over chana we distributed amongst the apprentices in
the morning. In the morning the company stopped the water supply to the
toilets. We gathered the rest of the drinking water.

* The news made rounds that the police chief would come in order to search
workers. There were around 1,600 permanent workers, trainees and
apprentices inside the plant – the police searched us one by one. Then
suddenly the DC and 20 to 25 administration officials arrived in the plant,
surrounded by cops with guns. They walked around a bit, then stopped in one
place and started talking – he had no microphone, so the workers gave him a
mic. At the beginning he spoke exactly like a (union) leader: that we were
good workers, that we were educated, that we did a great job since five
years now, that we achieved such high production levels, that this grants
so much tax for the government. he then said that our wages were higher
than those of others, that the management is good, that we have been
seduced by some people, that we have illegally occupied the factory, that
we should follow the orders of the high court, that we have to follow the
order to leave the plant, that there wasn’t any other option, that playing
with the law will not be tolerated, that since the erring of the Rico Auto
workers law and order has been in dire straits, that if Maruti Suzuki will
move the factory, our jobs would also go, but why should the government
have to bear the losses.

* The workers listened to these words of the DC attentively for half an
hour. Then the DC started to tell a tale, the tale which Maruti Suzuki
management kept on telling: the race of the turtle and the rabbit, which
ends with the morale that if sometimes the rabbit carries the turtle, and
sometimes the turtle the rabbit, both win. Team-work! Workers and
management should join and go together. But soon after the DC had started
his story, the workers stretched out, many fell asleep, others started
talking amongst themselves. End the end the DC said that he will quickly
move management to enter negotiations for a settlement, and that we should
now please follow the order. Another official spoke again about the law,
that the occupation is illegal, that we had to go. When the DC was about to
leave a worker took the mic: “We have now listened to your words, now
listen to ours.” The DC stopped, but when one worker after the other
started questions, he left. When workers started to shout slogans, with
rather load voices, the DC and the other officials fled the factory more or
less running.

* After talks between management and some workers on 22nd of October, an
high official of the company, the managing executive officer, made a
straight intervention in the Manesar factory. In an expensive restaurant on
National Highway 8 a two-day meeting with 60 to 70 ‘representatives’ of
workers and managers took place. They negotiated around the question of
holidays: management offered that some of the holidays could be fixed,
others could be flexible. Management said that they will give us 16 days
annual leave. They said that our parents will be covered by the company
health system, that this will become easier and more straightforward. “We
will see about company transport, too”. They said: “Form a union, we will
not object.” When the company wanted workers to form a company committee
and workers objected, management said: “Okay, don’t form a committee then,
that’s fine.” They also said: “There will be a good wage increase, just
wait for three months”. “We will pay you more than the workers at
Powertrain (Suzuki Powertrain had an 11,500 Rs monthly increase over three
years: 6,500 – 2,500 – 2-500). And the bosses themselves said that the
work-load was to high and that as soon as B-plant has started operation the
line speed will be reduced from 45 seconds per car to 1 min per car.

* The fact that workers hadn’t put forward any (wage) demands led the
bosses to wonder about the ‘policies’ behind the dispute. They said: Tell
us, haven’t all the issues relating to your mates been resolved after the
13-days occupation in June? We don’t understand why things flared up again
– have you been seduced or what happened? Some high official within Maruti
Suzuki belong to the same party as a certain section within leading
management in Hyundai, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Ford – and some of
these high officials had recently left Maruti Suzuki in order to get jobs
at other car manufacturers. Who knows, may be they arranged all this
trouble at Maruti in order to benefit their current employer?

* On 3rd of November A-shift and B-shift stopped work for an hour each and
their were department meetings. The big bosses repeated what they had said
already. In November management had put up a notice saying that the
formation of a works committee has been rejected.

* The Manesar A-plant produced 1,150 cars in two shifts in November.
Working overtime is strictly forbidden. The manual line has been idle.
Instead there are still 70 to 80 police staying there. Up to now, the end
of November, you can see them in the morning, with their wrapped up towels,
brushing their teeth.

* When the bought-sold issue (‘golden hand-shake’) of 30 workers (union
representatives) made the rounds after the end of the dispute, a
Maruti-Suzuki worker said, “Earlier we used to pass on the issues to the
president, general secretary, department co-ordinator – they will tell. But
now every worker himself answers. On every issue, everyone gives his
opinion. The atmosphere has changed.”

* All in all: “The time in Maruti-Suzuki factory during October 7-14 was
extremely good. There was no tension of work, there was no tension of
coming to the factory and going back, there was no tension of catching the
bus, there was no tension of cooking, there was no tension that food has to
be eaten only at 7 o’clock or only at 9 o’clock, there was no tension as to
what day or date was that day. Lots of personal conversation took place. We
had never come so close to one another as we came in these seven days.”

*** Maruti Suzuki Manesar Workers’ Diary – January 2012
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref4>

* The assembly-line speed used to be a car per 45 seconds, they have now
reduced speed to a car per 1 minute.

* The police have left the factory in December.

* The company management does not understand what really happened during
the last months and why. Therefore they are afraid of pushing things too
far with workers. Management has started to pat us on the shoulder, to give
us concessions.

* There is a distance. There keeps being a distance between management and
workers. The bosses say: the distance has been created, let it be closed.
The big bosses said to the department managers that they should establish
direct relationships with the permanent workers and technical trainees.
Through the executive officers, management has issued two new email IDs for
workers to contact and communicate with the company management directly.

* Being alarmed by the many debates and wide-reaching discussions amongst
workers some elements started to spread the rumour that the company would
tap workers’ phones. If company and state are afraid of us talking to each
other, and therefore spread these rumours, we should increase doing so,
increase talking, increase their fear. In September – October, when large
numbers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers spoke to each other in an open
way, spreading rumours about conspiracies of management or state played an
important role when it came to stirring up some dust in order to cloud
things again. Company and state are very weak, this is why they have a lot
of fear of workers conversing.

* After the (union) president and secretary and then the other 28 suspended
took their final dues and left, the process of union registration
continues. First they tried to appoint union officials on the base of
‘regions of origin’. This got entangled in inner-disputes. New union
officials were appointed. The company knows about this – it is all in full
knowledge of the company. Workers had trusted the president and secretary
way too much. Now, when there is talk about the question of the president
election, we only come and see who they want to make president. Now we
won’t just close our eyes and trust anyone. Obviously, if the company wants
to, a strike can always happen, but now we will make our decisions only
after proper thinking and discussing. The company has not paid money to all
those 30 guys who left the job in order to make them leave from here. They
gave them money so that they would always intervene on the side of the
company. The sphere of union and officials is still the chosen arena of the
company.

* Debates. “You should put pressure on the administration in Chandigarh in
order for the labour commissioner to register your union.” “What will a
registration change? Why would you need it? You have seen that the labour
commissioner came all the way from Chandigarh to the factory gate when the
dispute was on – and you have seen what his role was.” “That’s correct. But
nevertheless, if the government accepts you, you will get some help from
it.” “But what kind of help? You have seen the kind of help the company and
government has to offer. Why do you want to reduce your strength from 3,500
workers to 950 workers?” “No, we should remain together as 3,500 workers.”
“But how? Only the permanent workers can become member of the union.
According to the legislation trainees, apprentices and workers hired
through contractors cannot become members. By forming collectivity amongst
all workers in the factory and beyond the factory you have shaken company
and government. Why do you now want to shrink again?” “Currently there is
no one who would engage in talks with the company. The company started to
give you this and that concession, because they are afraid that you have
joined together amongst 3,500 and might join with the 100,000s around you.
They have increased the wages of the apprentices, trainees and workers
hired through contractor. They have reduced line speed from 45 sec to 1 min
a car. The company official told that there will be a considerable wage
increase for the permanent workers. So, what kind of interest could you
have in a 950-member union which has negotiations between company,
president and secretary? At the moment the company hasn’t got anyone for
settling an agreement with, this is why they are forced to make concessions
to all workers. This is why the company is actually in need for a union and
union leaders. The conditions nowadays are such that – even if you intend a
thousand times to achieve the opposite – starting from the fact that union
registration and acceptance is limited to the permanent workers, the
leaders will be reduced to a small circle and thereby become a tool in the
hand of the company. You just have to look at the example of the Honda
union. In 2005 permanent workers, trainees, workers hired through
contractors fought together. Now most of the 1,800 permanent workers have
supervisory jobs. The company has stopped to keep trainees. Please speak to
the 6,500 workers hired through contractor about their view on the union –
the workers who do most of the production work at Honda – and then think
about it again.”

*** Wildcat Solidarity Action for Injured Automobile Worker
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref5>

On 13th of January a worker hired through contractor employed in the
factory of the car parts (break shoes) manufacturer Allied Nippon received
serious chemical burn injuries during a work accident. The company brought
the worker to a private nursing home, instead of an ESI hospital, in order
to keep the accident ‘unofficial’. Seven friends of the worker, living in
the same dormitory villages in Manesar and employed mainly as temporary
workers at Maruti Suzuki, visited him at the nursing home. The friends
first contacted the supervisor of the contractor which employed the injured
worker. The contractor said that he had no information about the issue –
the worker also has not been issued an ESI card, although he had been
employed since early December 2011. The seven friends then went directly to
the Allied Nippon factory, but the factory manager refused to see them. The
friends then decided to call other friends for help. Within half an hour 70
to 80 workers employed through contractor in different departments of
Maruti Suzuki and Suzuki Powertrain gathered in front of the Allied Nippon
factory. The factory manager felt threatened, and stayed behind the factory
fence. The assembled workers said that he would not even have to bother
with paying for the hospital fees, that the workers themselves would pay
for that, but that he has to pay the worker until he is better and get his
job back. He should also inform the parents of the worker. “We got a lot of
support during the time when we occupied the factory. Now it’s time that we
support others”, said one of them.

http://www.alliednippon.com/manufacturing-facilities.html

*** Update on General Situation of Automobile Industry in India
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref6>

In the last month there was a fair bit of back and forth around the
question of the EU – India free trade agreement and how it would impact on
the automobile industry in both regions. The back and forth does not
primarily express conflicting interests between different car
manufacturers, given that most companies now have plants both in Asia and
Europe. The conflict evolves rather around the question how to balance the
global movement of production – not necessarily only from north to south –
and the regional framework of state revenues and labour markets. Currently
the EU imports around 250,000 cars from India annually, that’s more than
from South Korea – Hyundai, itself a ‘South Korean’ company is one of the
main exporters from India. The Indian market ‘only’ imported around 4,000
cars from the EU in 2011, this does not include automobile related
commodities (parts, machinery for production etc.). The free trade talks on
10th of February haven’t determined yet whether the 60 per cent Indian
import tariffs on cars manufactured in the EU will be dropped to 30 per
cent, or whether the 6.5 per cent EU import tariffs for ‘Indian’ cars will
be dropped to zero, as demanded by the Indian state delegation. It is for
sure that general market pressure will increase, not mainly because of
tariff policies, but due to the general dynamic of capitalist production –
and both regional state and the global manufacturers will try to translate
this pressure into pressure on workers everywhere – General Motors in the
US currently announces ‘record profits’, as one of the results of sharp
real wage decline in the US car industry.

After the increased unrest in the automobile industry in India the
management publicly muses about ‘automatisation’. “Three hundred robots
whirr to life every morning all over Hyundai’s Sriperumbudur plant near
Chennai, rubbing shoulders with 1,500 employees and 7,000 contract workers.
Together, man and machine churn out one car in less than a minute; over
600,000 cars roll out of the factory every year. The number of robots
inhabiting the factory has increased more than 10-fold in a decade. Car
companies directly or indirectly employ over five workers for every car
produced. All automobile and component companies together employ over 1.3
crore workers directly and indirectly. At Hyundai, gone are the part-bypart
way of putting together a car; today, 40 per cent of the value of the car
comes to Hyundai by way of pre-arranged modules, de-skilling the job at the
shop floor. The Indian auto shop floor isn’t as automated as those in the
more mature markets. So, while German carmaker Volkswagen’s Chakan plant
has an automation of 30% in its body shop, the comparative number back home
would be 90%.”

Obviously there is ‘automatisation’ happening in the main assembly plants,
at the same time there is also outsourcing to labour-intensive first and
second tier suppliers going on. The talk about ‘automatisation’ is mainly
ideological talk, which expresses itself nicely in the following quote by
tyre-manufacturer Apollo’s top-manager Sharma: “We do not have what has
traditionally been referred to as ‘workers’ at the Chennai plant.” Apollo,
instead, has shop floor engineers who are not just in charge of running
machinery but also its upkeep, maintenance and effecting innovation. In
order to see more clearly how much of this talk is ‘propagandistic’ it
might be worth having a look at the developments in the global north, where
the peak of ‘automatisation’ and ‘skill-enrichment’ in the car industry was
probably reached around 1990, and since then – mainly as a result of
stagnating wage levels – has basically reversed to rather ‘traditional’
means of industrial production.

In this regard we suggest greatly to read following account “At some point
you are not interested in technology anymore”, by a Volkswagen worker in
Germany:

http://www.wildcat-www.de/en/wildcat/79/w79_auto5000_en.htm

*** Yanam is Everywhere: Trouble at Adidas/Reebock/Puma manufacturer
Adigear, Manesar
-<http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/gurgaonworkersnews-no-48-march-2012/#fnref2>

On 27th of January the police killed a worker at Regency Ceramics in Yanam,
Andhra Pradesh, during a conflict with the locked-out work-force, in
dispute over wages and regularisation of workers hired through contractors.
Workers in response attacked the factory and managements’ houses, during
which a top-manager was killed. Workers burnt down parts of the plant, the
company college, lorries and other equipment, workers in the surrounding
neighbourhood used the opportunity to loot neighbouring companies, e.g. a
cooking-gas bottle supplier.

Yanam is potentially everywhere. Below you can find a short report about
current disputes at Adigear in Manesar, a manufacturer for Adidas and other
international sports gear brands. During one of the conflicts a top-manager
got beaten up. The ‘textile’ sector in India is not excepted from the
general tendency of crisis. On 6th of February we could read in the
Economic Times:

*“Yarn, fabric and clothing companies are in a sweet spot. They owe banks
so much that now it is their lenders’ job to ensure they survive. With wild
enthusiasm, banks have lent the textile industry Rs 2,50,000 crore in the
last 12 years. Now companies say they can’t even pay interest on Rs 50,000
crore in working capital loans. Up to 15 per cent of loans to this industry
are stressed and the number is rising fast. In today’s precarious times,
such a gaping hole could be the last straw for banks. Most of these loans
have already been ‘restructured’ once. If payments fall behind a second
time, the account has to be classified as a ‘Non Performing Asset’ on the
bank’s balance sheet. In December, a dozen banks asked the RBI to relax the
rules on declaring bad loans and let these twice restructured loans remain
standard. Because such relaxation flouts international prudential and
accounting norms, quite sensibly, RBI refused. *
* *

*The biggest players, with enough backward and forward integration to ride
out the storms, continue to make money. Those in distress today were
clearly unworthy of large loans in the first place and should now be
written off. The real issue is that Indian textile companies are small,
labour-intensive, non-integrated spinning, weaving, finishing and
apparel-making outfits. Only 3% are large composite mills. Today’s world
demands economies of scale. Indiscriminate government subsidies in the name
of job creation further encouraged promoters to use public money for
creating more such fragmented capacities that are inevitably idled at first
signs of trouble. It is a mirage that the textiles industry is too big to
fail. On the contrary, its myriad small units have outlived their utility.
Their exit will occur only when banks face the consequences of their
actions. And subsidy schemes should stop. Individual livelihoods can’t be
protected by industrial dinosaurs.”*

We remember the attack on the huge composite mills in Bombay in the
mid-1980s, when the representatives of capital proclaimed that this
‘large-scale’-form of production is outdated and small, flexible units are
supposed to be the future. We remember the recent mass waves of strikes and
riots in the textile export zones in Bangladesh, where, according to this
view, capital found better investment options. We are reminded that the
problem of profit-margins, over-production, 16-24-36 hours shifts
paralleled by rising unemployment is an universal problem. The crisis, and
the ‘solutions’ proposed in the article above (the only solution the
current system can provide), will create one, two, three, …many Yanams.

*Adigear International Worker*
(Manufacturer for Adidas, Reebok, Puma, FILA etc.)

(Plot 253, Sector VI, IMT Manesar)
Shift starts at 9:30 am in the morning. The 100 female workers finish work
at 8 pm and the 800 male workers work till 1 am, sometimes till 6 am the
next morning. On Sundays workers work till 6 pm, sometimes till 1 am. The
male workers work 180 to 240 hours of overtime per month, paid at single
rate. Wages are paid delayed, the August wages were paid in small
installments from 20th of September onwards. On the 20th of September at 11
am, when wages were handed out, there was a lot of commotion. The six-foot
personal security officer of the company director slapped one of the
workers. Why did he hit him? The workers wanted to know, but the security
officer had left the place. During meal break workers left the factory and
started to question the security officer, but he escaped with the help of
another security officer. The workers then met the general manager outside
the plant and the workers treated him as the due representative of the
security officer. He was then admitted to the ESI hospital. The company has
close relations to the district police, so they acted immediately. The
police arrived and arrested 42 workers, whose names were given by
management, and brought them to the Manesar police station. In protest all
remaining workers stopped working and left the factory. In return 21
workers were released, but the others remained locked-up. The workers did
not re-start work, the factory remained idle from 23rd to 25th of
September. Workers said: Release all of the arrested, withdraw the cases
filed and pay compensation for lost wages… if you want the next orders to
be shipped in time, fulfil these demands. Conflicts continued since then.
On 3rd of December, when workers who had been sacked came to get their
August wages, management called the cops again. We don’t know whether these
workers got their wages in the end. When our October and November wages
were still not paid on 15th of December, we stopped working at 9:30 am.
When work was still not resumed at 1 pm the company send seven bouncers who
started hassling workers. In response all of us left the factory…

http://www.adigear.com/clients.html

--
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