12 July, 2013For the workers at the Maruti Suzuki plant in India, 18 July marks an unwanted anniversary filled with flagrant anti-union behavior from the police and authorities. Attempting to put end to the repression, a hunger strike is planned.
After the violent incident on 18 July last year in which a manager at Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) was killed, 147 workers have been held in Gurgaon jail without being granted bail. An additional 66 workers have outstanding non-bailable arrest warrants. 2,300 workers have lost their jobs, and it has been a year where thousands of families have been devastated economically and emotionally.
On 23 June the General Body of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) decided, following continued struggle and solidarity action, to protest against the injustice of persecution when voicing their legitimate rights.
“To make the deaf ears of the government hear, we will mark this date by starting an indefinite sit-in demonstration and hunger strike in Manesar. We appeal to workers, organizations and all sections of society to join us on this date in Manesar and organize solidarity actions before and on 18 July across the country, so that we can register the united voice of workers, and other sections of society”, says the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union.
The demands related to the hunger strike are two-fold:
1. Release arrested workers and activists (147 in the Gurgaon jail, 10 in the Kaithal jail)
2. Reinstate all terminated workers of the three plants of Maruti Suzuki Manesar (546 permanent and 1800 contract workers), Suzuki Powertrain (three since the 2011 strike including the president of the SPIEU union) and Suzuki Motorcycles (two workers, including the general secretary, terminated on 11 June 2013)
The hunger strike also marks a year of resolute tenacious struggle for the workers, who have not given up and continue to defy and challenge the arrogance of capital and its pliant state.
For more information, please see the report released on 27 June by the International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR), entitled Merchants of Menace: Repressing workers in India’s new industrial belt, Violations of workers’ and trade union rights at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.