for building a democratic labour movement in India
NIHIL MEHTA, General Secretary, Gujarat KamdarMandal, GM India, Halol Plant; And National Secretary, Indian National Trade Union Congress(INTUC)INDIA.
The Indian subsidiary of US auto giant General Motor, has decided to close down its manufacturing facility in Halol which is located near Vadodara. General Motors is one of the auto makers to establish car manufacturing unit in the year 1986. The State Govt. has given the land at token price. Further, the company also availed the benefit of Tax and Duties for five years and also given the tax relief pertaining to export/excise.The plant is spread over 200 acres land and General Motors has invested Rs. 1400/- crore. The unit’s per day production is 200 cars and produce the car models viz. TAVERA, ENJOY, CRUZE, PRESENT, MAIN TAVERA. The daily working time of worker is 9 hours. The payment of wages to A group employee is 1.60 euro for 1 hour and B group for 1 hour is 0.44 euro.
The General Motors had visualized that one day the Gujarat State would become the next auto hub in India which can be apprehended that many other car factories viz. Ford, MarutiSuziki, B.M.W. etc. have also established its car manufacturing plants in Gujarat. It is relevant that in India most of all Auto Industries have employed contract labours to the extent of 50% to 60% in the manufacturing/production posts but the said arrangement of hiring workers is in violation of Clause 10 and 13 of the Contract Labour ( Regulation and Abolition) Act,1970. It is also most disgusting that in the name of Trainee and Apprentice the employers engaged to do the same type of work which is being done by the contract workers but they are paid less wage than the contract labour. Thus the provision of The Equal Remuneration Act,1976 are violated by the employer. This type of working arrangement by the companies did not allow to form the Union in the company thereby curbing any kind of union activities for their rights and justified demands against the management. The legitimate right to resort to strike in connection with demands of workers thus crushed and in the case of strike, the workers were recruited on purely contract basis in place of the striking workers thereby creating industrial unrest in the companies. It lead to seizure of union activities and breaking of union in all Auto Industries/Companies. Therefore all the Automotive companies contravene the conventions 87,88 and 98 of International Labour Organisation and Right to Strike, Right to Organise Union, Right to Bargaining and Right to Inspection which is a breach of ILO Convention.
Though the production work was going on smoothly for many years, the management was never keen for safety and health condition of the workers at manufacturing plant site. The conditions of workers are absolutely pitiable and it does not even achieve the parameters as well as norms sent by the General Motors in United States. Every year average 3 incidents of major accidents took place at the plant. Moreover, the 25% workers are suffering from main health problems viz. Back Pain, Slip-Disc and Strip Bones due to continuous working in adverse conditions in the plant. Thus the auto company do not heed to the most important issue of providing sufficient safety and health of the workers in the plant. This aspect has led to the permanent injury to the workers on account of above afflictions and healths of workers is adversely affected and have become victims of Back Pain, Slip-Disc, Slip Disc, Spinal Cord and Strip Bones diseases. About 25% workers of Auto Companies are victims of Back Pain and Sleep Disc and due to said illness they cannot bend and not able to discharge duty properly. Moreover due to acute pain, they require to spray pain killer on the affected part of the body, to take medicine and also to have complete rest during the night so as to report in the morning shift. Instead of providing medical relief, proper medical treatment or entrusting with light jobs, the concerned contract workers’ job were terminated and that too without paying any compassion to them. Due to such inhuman action of the General Motors Company, about 269 workers have filed complaints on the ground of health problems.
There were about 1600 workers employed at the Halol Plant and out which 800 workers were on permanent basis and remaining 800 workers were on contract basis. These all workers have approached GUJARAT KAMDAR MANDALand became members of the union during Octo., 2010.The union started actions and immediately following demand to the management:
(1) 600 temporary workers to be treat as regular full time worker, able to get benefit and paid fairly.
(2) Equal wages for Equal Work.
(3) Stop company’s demand of excess production workload of 20% due tohealth problem.
(4) Improve Health and safety conditions in view of 269 workers’ spinal Cord damage and back pain problem.
(5) Demnded that the workers should not left weight more than 17 Kgs. As per Factory Act.
(6) Pay back wages for over time as per provisions.
Instead of consideration of above genuine demands of the Union, the company has resorted to the unfair labour practice and started discharging temporary workers from October,2010 onwards which resulted in reduction of contract workers to only 500 and permanent workers to 1100 and Gujarat KamdarMandal union represents them. It is done with management’s policy for effecting shut-down in June,2016. On account of management’s ill motives, 1600 workers would be out of jobs if the company closes the Halol plant. Moreover, the auto company is also having 7000 workers who would also lose their jobs in the event of closure of the plant.
In India in the auto industries major work of permanent manufacturing is transferred in the contract system in the name of ‘’LOGISTIC’’. The work of Bodyshop, Assembly, Paintshop, Driver, Press shop, Store, H.R. for Clap, Operations etc. works are classified under logistic department, in manufacturing area the work is done by contract workers. Keeping less permanent workers in the name of logistic by giving contract and the work of manufacturing is taken from contract worker without giving any type of legal benefits or protections. In one manufacturing process at one place with one permanent worker four co-workers are employed in the name of logistics. This is nothing but the clear exploitation of workers in the name of terming the routine work as logistic with a sole intention to deprive the entitled benefits to the permanent workers.
Therefore in International Automotive Conference,2015 a resolution should be passed, that ‘’ in the automotive industries in manufacturing process in permanent manufacturing area no contract worker should be recruited, the contract worker shall not be place in manufacturing area in name of Logistic work and logistic worker should get basic wage, dearness allowance and salary equal to automotive permanent workers and logistic worker should have same type of service conditions and benefits thereof. In Automotive Industries the wages should be paid according to the principle of ‘’EQUAL WAGE FOR EQUAL WORK’’. Automotive companies should keep the service rules and standards of mother country in other country in other country. Now that is not complied with.
The contract worker is employed and worked for 10 years in manufacturing area as Logistic which is actually the work of permanent worker. Thereafter, that contract worker retrenches or terminated from job without giving any reason or other retirement benefits. Thus after 10 years of dedicated service rendered to the company, the worker is sacked and his family becomes unsafe and started sustaining financial hardship too. For this reason also resolution should be passed for protection of contract workers.
At present Gujarat KamdarMandal Union, General Motors HalolPlant(Gujarat)India is facing many labour problems. The logistic workers, contract workers working in manufacturing since 10 years, service/job are terminated. General Motors is not giving recognition to GKM Union since 2010. Although there is injunction/restrain order by Industrial Tribunal against General Motors, 250 members of our union are fired by the company resorting to the unfair labour practice without giving any compensation. The amount of overtime wages is due since last 10 years against General Motors under Factory Act 1948. In addition to that, 4 references court case proceeding are going on in Industrial Tribunal. Certain union leaders by change of contract 250 workers with 10 years of services are discharged by false reasons. Our Union never invited for the discussion on this vital issue instead agreements are executed with pocket union. The charter of demands of our logistic workers, contract workers and permanent workers regarding pay revision is pending in the court since last 4 years. Company is not ready for negotiations. Union is not being recognized and the worker are given threats of transfer or lay-off.
The dispute of overload work to workers is pending against the General Motors. Further as the temporary assignee and contract workers are working on the post of permanent posting, the demand of pay scales and canteen facilities as of General Motors workers are pending. Under the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 the demand for ‘’EQUAL WAGES FOR EQAUL WORK’’ is still continued.
In view of above facts, there is an exploitation of workers in Automotive Industries in India. There is huge gap and difference in the pay scale, terms and conditions of working system and services as compared with permanent workers and temporary as well as contractual workers which is causing dissatisfaction and demoralization among workers and causing Industrial unrest. This issue has been also taken up by the union at ILO and with the Institute of Global Labour & Human Rights, U.S.A. Moved by the effective presentation by the union on the adverse working condition, less payment of wages to contract workers, the Director of Global Labour & Human Rights, U.S.A. Mr. Charles Kernaghan has taken up the issue with Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company, Detroit vide his letter dt: 06/04/2011. In the letter it has been specifically mentioned that ‘’ Factory conditions are well below standard. Even worse is that over 269 workers are suffering from spinal cord injuries due to unsafe working conditions. Rather than threatening and attacking the striking workers and their General KamdarMandal Union. Halol management should sit down in good faith with the union and negotiate a fair collective contract.’’ Further the most sarcastic remark made in the letter that’’ THIS IS NOT THE GENERAL MOTORS WE KNOW IN THE UNITED STATES’’.
The undersigned has participated in the International Automotive Workers Conference on 14-18 October,2015 in the capacity of General Secretary, Gujarat KamdarMandal(GM Halol Plant) and Secretary, Indian National Trade Union Congress(INTUC) held at Germany and effectively raised the issue of ill treatment meted out to the workers by General Motors, Halol Plant in complete detail and also requested to pass the following resolutions in the conference which was supported and unanimously passed by all world (International) representatives.
(1) The pay-scale and terms and conditions of all the workers working on permanent posts of manufacturing process should be equalize;
(2) The logistic workers should not be employed on the post of permanent manufacturing process posts;
(3) ‘’Logistic work’’ do not include work manufacturing like Bodyshop, Assembly, Paintshop, Driver, Press-shop, Store, H.R. For Clap. Therefore definition of logistics should be defined and exploitation should be stopped; and
(4) In manufacturing area in the name of logistics, no contractual workers should be recruited and if recruited should be made permanent and its rights should be given.
The Gujarat KamdarMandal has always tried to safeguard the interest of contract/temporary workers and raised demandsfor settlement of workers justified problems. Due to GKM’s continuous pursuance to resolve the workers issue at General Motors, Halol plant, the management has created a Pocket Union, namely GMEU which dances to the tune of the local management and also the signs the so called settlement on the dotted lines drafted by the officers of management. Therefore, GKM has also challenged the management’s recognition to its puppet union GMEU in the High Court of Guajrat vide Special Civil Application no 2164 of 2011 with the consent of General Motors and the GKM referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal and as on date the Industrial Tribunal is ceased of with the reference which is numbered as Reference (IT) No. 138 of 2011.
In view of the above facts, GKM likes to bring out the most pitiable working conditions of workers at GM, Halol plant and is deeply engaged to restore their right and benefits for which they are entitled under the provisions of Acts and Laws. The union also appeal to all to protest against the behavior of such anti worker management and expose them at all level and bring pressure on the GM management to settle all the demands raised by GKM amicably.
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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.