for building a democratic labour movement in India
Support growing for striking Bajaj Auto workers
The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh (SEM), an umbrella organisation that claims affiliation of 88 worker Unions in the Pune industrial belt, has said that all its members will make a demand for shares of their respective companies. Social activist worker Medha Patkar will also lead a rally of workers to the Vidhan Sabha building in Mumbai, the SEM said in a statement. The decision, to establish its solidarity with the demands of striking workers of Bajaj Auto was taken at a meeting on July 23, Maruti Jagdale, an advisor to the SEM said, adding that notices demanding shares will be sent to various employers over the next few days. The member-Unions have also pledged preliminary financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per Bajaj Auto worker, he added.
Court Rejects Plea of workers
The Pune labour court judge has rejected the Bajaj Auto workers’ union’s application for more time and passed a “no written statement order” against it in today’s hearing of the petition filed by the motorcycle company. July 29 has been set as the next date for the hearing. The Vishwakalyan Kamgar Sanghtana, the Bajaj Union was supposed to have filed its written statement in the court, and appointed a lawyer to enable the case to proceed. However, the VKS gave a submission asking for four days’ adjournment stating that it was appealing against the labour court’s rejection of its earlier application asking Bajaj Auto to give them June payslips, in the industrial court. N.S. Kole, labour court judge came down heavily on the Union observing that the Union was only interested in delaying the proceedings for one reason or the other, and did not seem to intend to file the written statement. Therefore, the application for four days’ time was rejected, Kole said, adding that a ‘no written statement’ order was passed. The hearing of the petition filed by Bajaj Auto seeking to declare the worker’s strike that began on June 25, illegal will now carry on. Meanwhile, to make up for production loss at its Chakan plant, where Bajaj Auto makes its Pulsar, Avenger and KTM range of motorcycles, the company has shifted a part of the production to its Aurangabad plant. On the BSE today, the Bajaj Auto share touched a high of Rs 2,007 before closing at Rs 1,978, slightly lower than its opening price.
Bajaj Auto issues ultimatum to striking workers
Bajaj Auto chief Rajiv Bajaj on Monday gave a week’s ultimatum to the top management and the union to resolve the 42-day-old strike at the Chakan plant, failing which he warned that the company will be forced to move the board to shift production to other plants. Giving an ultimatum to workers to end the strike, the Bajaj Auto Managing Director and chief executive told reporters that “unless the issue is resolved within a week, we will be forced to move at least 50 per cent of production and production capacity to the Aurangabad and Pant Nagar plants.
“I will be moving the board to seek their permission to move production out of Chakan if the strike is not resolved within a week.” However, he ruled out the complete shuttering of the Chakan facility, saying that the main R&D facility in based in the city. Against the backdrop of the company having been pushed to the third slot in the July sales sweepstake by the new-comer Honda Motorcycles, Bajaj said: “I cannot stake my sales in the second half too. So the company will be seeking board permission to move production capacity to our other plants.” Since June 25, Chakan plant workers are on strike demanding a steep wage hike or 500 shares each to employees through an Esop, besides unconditionally taking back of the sacked workers. “We have been patient all these while. But now we are ready to take a tough call, and we will take that next week,” Bajaj said.
The Chakan plant has an installed capacity of over 3,000 units a day and since the strike, the company has been gradually increasing the output, which stands at 2,000 now, he said, adding that the company has responded to the show-cause issued by the labour department a week back.
The remaining units are met at the Aurangabad plant which currently rolls out around 1,000 units. On taking back the sacked workers, Bajaj said the management is ready to take back seven of the 22 suspended workers against whom there are only the minor charges without an enquiry. For the remaining 15 others, he said the company has proposed to set up an independent committee to probe the charges against them. Discussions are also on with the Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, the umbrella union of workers, he added.
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Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,”
Social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity - of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.
In the new global politico-economic regime with new international division of labour, informalization of labour, free mobility of capital, alarming expansion of reserve army of labour and creation of global reserve army of labour for capital, and a system of regulating at international level and deregulating at national level, the pre-globalization strategies of organizing and collective bargaining have largely become ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore the labour movements and the social, political movements in general need to develop and implement new strategies of organizing and collective bargaining effective in new global politico-economic regime.
Divide, isolate and rule is the most important aspect of the capitalism to control the labour by not letting the working class emerge as a unified force. Dividing the working class in different sectional interests, and intensifying social conflicts (caste, gender, religion, regionality and nationality conflicts etc) are important strategies of capitalism. On the other hand, by its various institutions and propaganda machinery, the capitalism blurs the link between various sectional problems and their linkage with the capitalist system and therefore the movements appear detached from each other and focused on their sectional issues rather than challenging the capitalist system that produces and reproduces these problems.
The fate of social, political movements in India depends on their attitude towards learning and building unity in diversity at various levels to defeat the capital’s attempts to divide, isolate and rule. The revival of the working class movement also depends on this factor.