Friday, August 10, 2012

Workers Take a Lynch Break

Libcom reports:

Following the unfair suspension of a worker, Suzuki management hire hundreds of goons to attack workers. The workers respond by lynching and hospitalising over 40 managers, killing at least one. India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki has closed down one of its two factories after a labour dispute boiled over into riots that have seen at least one person dead and scores of others injured.
The factory closed its doors on Wednesday night due to a serious fire started by workers. A badly charred body found in the conference room is waiting to be identified. A statement released by the company (a subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki) reports that over forty managers and executives have been hospitalised with a variety of injuries. The dispute is generally a result of rising inflation, reducing wages, attacks on terms and conditions, and the use of causal labour to bypass labour laws.

Things came to a head on the 18th July when a supervisor verbally abused a worker. Without no investigation or evidence of wrongdoing, the management decided to suspend the victimised worker. Workers became angry at the suspension and got the union involved. As the union attempted to negotiate, the bosses brought in hundreds of hired bouncers, who locked the factory gates, and on the behest of the management, attacked workers with weapons.
A union official reported that:
“They [the bouncers], joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers, who have had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. The bouncers … also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory. The gates were later opened to oust the workers and enforce a lockout by the company.”
The government and police has shown no interest in pursuing any of the hired thugs who started the violence, but are instead hunting over 3,000 workers on the charge of murder (91 arrested so far). The bosses have now locked out all workers at the Manesar plant, which along with its sister plant, produces over 40% of India’s cars. Working conditions at the factory are horrendous. A car is produced every 38 seconds. If a car is a second late, workers get a pay cut, if they are a second late clocking in they lose a day’s pay, if they are a second late back from a break, they have their salaries reduced.

India’s auto industry is no stranger to this type of dispute – in 2008 a group of workers at Graziano Transmission, lynched the Chief Executive and crushed his skull with hammers and metal bars. Honda, Ford, General Motors, and Hyundai have all seen serious labour unrest over the last few years. In India, the car industry is booming. In 2011, Maruti Suzuki made over $65,000 profit per employee. Despite unprecedented profits, workers in the industry have seen their wages reduced by 25% over the last ten years, whilst directors have seen their pay skyrocket.


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