The contract workers of Manersar-based Hitachi Metals India, which has been renamed Pretorial, launched a strike since Thursday evening. A move was undertaken to sack two labour leaders leading the company’s nearly three hundred contract workers, against which the B shift workers left their machines and assembled at the shop floor.
The work continued with no turbulence in Shift A on Thursday. However when the workers of B shift entered at 2.15 pm, the management called the two leading labour leaders to their chamber at 3.30 pm.
An inspector of the labour court was also present there and the management discussed elevating the production there, which was accepted by the labour representatives.
When the matter was brought before the management that the newly recruited 25 contract workers should be removed two days ago, no consensus was reached on this.
When the C shift workers arrived at the company at night, they also embarked on a dharna outside the gate. The workers of A and C shift were e sitting at the gate and workers of B shift were inside the company. So far no talks have sprung up from the labour court or the management.
This morning when the workers asked the management to open the toilets, the management yielded. Still till nine o’clock in the morning all the workers inside the company sat hungry.
25-30 bouncers were already guarding the plant and heavy police force was deployed e in the evening, to stifle any discontent..
No support from permanent workers
Due to the authoritarian policy of the police administration, all the workers were haplessly sitting outside the company gate.
Actually, the incident ignited at 4:00 pm during the tea break when the workers got notice that two more workers working in the company were fired by the management. The management had already engaged bouncers and police force in the plant.
Poignantly, the contract labourers employed in the plant had formed a committee of five workers to hold talks with the management, out of which three were fired earlier.
There are a total of 46 permanent workers and around 270 contract workers in the company. The union of the permanent workers played no role in this dharna, nor offered any moral support to them.. A contract worker earns Rs 12-13 thousand in a month, while the salary of permanent workers is far more.
Apathy of Management
The company belongs to Japan and the parts manufactured in it go directly to the service of Japan, yet the working conditions for the workers are arduous.
In June 2022, the company’s name was changed to ‘Proterial’ and a policy was proposed to recruit workers in accordance to the new code.
Approximately the workers had been working in the company for 2-6 years. The workers refused to accept the new code. and also gave their collective demand letter to the management.
It included demands for permanent employment for all workers doing permanent type of work, increase in wages, improvement in working conditions, etc. A copy of the collective demand letter was also submitted to the Haryana Labour Department.
Instead of redressing their demands, the management intensified their ill-treatment and repression. So far 25 workers have been displaced due out to this action of the management.
The workers who were dismissed and working inside the company are unitedly waging a battle against this unjust and illegal action of the management.
Till now no official of labour department has stepped into the plant to talk to the workers, while the management and the police are placing undue pressure on the workers to vacate the plant.
The struggling workers have appealed to all trade unions and justice loving people to wave their flags in their support.
On 11th May evening till 12th May night at 10 p.m the dharna prolonged. Participants included Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Suzuki power Union, Maruti Suzuki workers Union, Belsonika Union, and few other Unions. After the toilet was closed for 12 hours, the management opened it on 12th May at 4p.m.
The management resolved to re-instate 2 Union leaders and 50 workers.
Positive that the workers returned from the Dharna eating their food and with full confidence and unflinching resilience were ever determined to consolidate the struggle. After long in Gurgaon did the workers succeed in gaining what was promised on 12th March.
Worker-management tension has scaled or aggrandized to a boiling point. Significant to witness betrayal of permanent workers and management escalating repression by tightening noose on resistance. The resilience o the workers should be saluted. It is vital that the permanent workers are won over to their side. A cutting edge or boost was given to the struggle of contract workers.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India. Thanks Workers Unity and Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra secretary Shyambir for inputs.