Labour

The Life of Labour: Violence at VIVO Factory, Ragpickers Hit Hard By GST

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Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Delhi-Gurgaon-Noida industrial belt on the boil

Violence erupted at the VIVO factory in Greater Noida after 60 workers were sacked without any prior notice. According to DNA, the company has sacked 700 people over the last few months. The trigger was reported to be a slap by a security guard when a worker asked about his job and due payment. The police broke up the scuffle soon enough but the management claim major loss due to damage of property and say that they will file an FIR against the perpetrators.

The Hindu reports that, “Over 3,000 labourers protesting against alleged poor working conditions and inadequate health and transport facilities went on a rampage on Friday at the construction site of DLF’s luxury condominium project ‘The Camellias’.” The violence began when the management called for talks with the labourers but never showed up for the meeting. It stopped when the police arrived and the sub-divisional magistrate reportedly settled the matter. The management have stated that the damage was minor and the issue is amicably settled but the police have registered a case against 40 unidentified men under various sections of the IPC.

Thozhilalar Koodam reports that on the 5th anniversary of the Maruti struggle, a huge rally was organised in Gurgaon. Not only workers from Maruti’s plants, but people from both Honda plants in Gurgaon and Dharuhera, Hero, Aisin, Ahresty, Bellsonica, Daikin, Rico, Nerolac, Uniproducts, Mark Exhausts, Carrier as well as organisations and trade unions like Worker Solidarity Center, Inquilab Mazdoor Kendra, Jan Sangharsh Manch (Haryana), Bigool Mazdoor Dasta, Shramik Sangram Samiti, NTUI as well as several central trade unions participated in the rally. It was also reported that “each worker of Maruti workers union has promised Rs 5000, which amounts to 80 lakh in total, for the families. Workers of the Maruti Suzuki Gurgaon plant have supported the families in the past as well with the previous amount being around Rs. 20 lakh.” With the state taking sides, it falls on other working-class citizens and groups to protect those affected by the struggle, union leaders say.

As Monobina Gupta wrote in The Wire, “millions of small mutinies” seem to be sparking off across the country. Last week, we wrote about Zohra Bibi’s case in Noida. Solidarity protests were held in Chennai and Hindustan Times reports that, “the Gharelu Kamgar Union (GKU), which works for the rights of domestic workers in Delhi-NCR, has approached the National Commission for Women (NCW) for its intervention in the matter”. But there seems to be no great hope that society will reverse its biases anytime soon.

Tea workers across India might get their dues 

IndiaLegalLive reports: “On August 6, 2010, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court took note of the plight and directed the central government to carry out its statutory duties under the provisions of the Tea Act, 1953 [sections 16B, 16C, 16D, and 16E] within a period of six months. The bench was reacting to a petition filed by the International Union of Food & Agricultural Workers… None of this was carried out, making it a ripe case for contempt of court… On July 21, an apex court bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao heard this contempt petition and directed the Centre to proceed against the erring tea companies by calling upon the statutory authorities to issue notices to them, for recovery and payment of wages to the workmen who lost their livelihood due to closure of tea estates in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.”

Other News:

TN coastal yatra concludes with protest demonstration in Chennai

“The BJP government at the centre has behaved in such a way as if the fishworkers are not even citizens of this country. Instead of protecting the lives and livelihoods of the fisher people and other coastal communities, the Modi government is paving the way for privatisation of coastal land and exploitative commercialisation of the Indian seas. This amounts to declaring war on more than a million people and their dependent families,” said TP Peter, General Secretary, National Fishworkers Forum. Read more here.

Ragpickers hit hard by GST

Ragpickers and kabadiwallahs – India’s invisible recyclers – are reeling under the repercussions of the new rate of tax on waste plastic. The Hindu reports that, “after the onset of the GST, the 18% tax imposed on waste plastic has sparked a downward spiral in prices in the waste recycling markets. Plastic recyclers faced with the new tax are protecting their margins by slashing the prices at which they buy from the thousands of waste managers and ragpickers.”

International news:

Sri Lanka deploys troops amid oil workers strike: The troops and police distributed fuel on Wednesday as “striking petroleum workers protested over plans to sell off stakes in state-owned oil depots to India and China”. Read more here.

Four Pakistani train drivers sent on judicial remand for striking: Four train drivers who were protesting and pushing the government to meet their demands were booked under anti-terrorism law and jailed. Read more here.

Weekend reading

July days: Jacobin magazine has a special feature outlining the events of July 1917 on its 100th anniversary. “In the aftermath of the February Revolution, the workers and soldiers had given the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries power, but these parties tried to hand it over to the imperialist bourgeoisie, preferring a war against the people to a bloodless transfer of power into their own hands.” So despite starting as a tiny minority, the strength and mass support of the Bolsheviks grew quickly. July was a tumultuous month and the provisional government was teetering on the edge of collapse. Read more here.

Shaheed hospital: “On a dusty road, blood red in colour, a ‘development’ scarred mountain chain dominating the landscape, in the mining town of Dalli Rajhara, stands a monument to working class ingenuity, leadership and labour. Unlike other monuments, it is neither a tourist attraction, nor a silent memorial of bygone times and people. It is a living, throbbing hospital, often overflowing with patients seeking affordable medical care. Shaheed hospital, nicknamed pauper’s hospital, was a gift from the ‘illiterate’, ‘unskilled’ workers of Rajhara mines to the people of Dali and adjoining districts of Chattisgarh. Financed, built and managed by contract workers, its principal purpose was to serve the poor subjects of a prosperous nation.” Read more here.