World Condemns Canadian Govt’s Support for Hazardous Chrysotile Asbestos
BANI Welcomes India’s First Step Towards Prohibition of Asbestos at UN Meet
New Delhi/Patna: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Welcomes India’s dramatic change in position at the UN Meet on Hazardous Chemicals in Switzerland unlike Canada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam who voted against listing chrysotile asbestos or white asbestos in Annexure III of the Rotterdam Convention on hazardous materials.The list makes it legally compulsory for asbestos producing countries to warn importing countries of the health risks associated with the cancer-causing chemical. Indian Government reversed its past opposition to its listing. Continue reading “India’s First Step Towards Prohibition of Asbestos at UN Meet”→
Javed Naqi is founder and working committee member of ZOJILA WATCH.
The isolated world of Ladakh is set to be opened up for all weather if a push for accessibility by a group of youth is successful. A group of youth mostly from the twin districts of Ladakh i.e. Leh and Kargil, are calling for the quick construction of the all-weather Zojila tunnel connecting Ladakh to Kashmir valley and the outer world.
The youth formed a focus group called Zojila Watch, to create greater urgency for the tunnel, to foresee the developments and to disseminate the information to the local and others so as to generate a wider public awareness of the need for it.
The group have written to the President of India through an online campaign to push for greater accessibility to the Ladakh area.
“Many young people got behind the initiative and wrote to the presidents online,” the group states in an online group posting.
Zojila Watch continue to campaign online through social networking sites like Facebook, which has over 500 members. One of the member of the group said, it was the ideal place for the group to mobilise youths working and studying in different parts of the country on a common platform and share issues related to the Zojila tunnel.
The founding members of the group include Javed Naqi (Kindling Accessibility Initiatives in Ladakh/JNU), Mustafa Haji (Nalsar University of Law), Muzaffar Hussain (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Shahnawaz Ali (Aligarh Muslim University), Shakeel Ahmad (University of Jammu), Syed Sajjad (CHUMS Kargil).
Members also include academicians, journalists, well-known activists including Prof. Lakhan Gusain (John Hopkins University, USA), Kate Shuttleworth (Journalist and Activist, New Zealand), Wilfred D’ Costa (General Secretary, Indian Social Action Forum), Narendra Chowdhary (Senior Journalist and Vice President PUCL, AP), Zaheer A Bagh (TV Today Network), Meha Dixit (Independent Freelancer) and Prakash Ray (Activist and Researcher, Jawaharlal Nehru University).
Ladakh is connected to the Kashmir valley and rest of the world via Zojila pass, which becomes inaccessible for six months in winters due to heavy snowfall. This isolation results in great loses in terms of education, health, rural infrastructure and most importantly sustainability. The people of Ladakhi especially Kargil have been demanding construction of a tunnel through the Zojila pass or an all weather road for decades. Even almost four years since the Zojila tunnel project was approved yet not much has been done and Ladakh continues to be isolated from the outer world.
Civil society activists have written an open letter to government of India on the 254th anniversary of Battle of Plassey with an appeal to not to forget painful lessons of that Battle, which changed the course of history of India. The open letter circulated by ToxicsWatch Alliance urges the government to abandon its plan to sign FTA with European Union and to avoid signing treaties with various countries and intergovernmental organizations without explicit approval or sanction of central and state legislatures. It also wants the government to immediately put on hold the UIDAI Bill and NIAI Bill for they pose a threat to civil liberties.
Statement on 254th Anniversary of British East India Company’s Treacherous Conquest
On this Memorial Day, we call on citizens to beware of the ulterior motives of Companies Bill, 2009, National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, role of political parties that are funded by the business enterprises, the role of donor-driven NGOs and Free Trade Agreements;
We urge the Government of India to recall how fake treaty namely, White treaty was signed by the British corporate entity “when the very existence of the Company was at stake” and to abandon its plan to sign Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This was admitted by Robert Clive in the British House of Commons of Parliament on 10th May 1773, during their Parliamentary inquiry into the Company’s conduct in India;
We disagree with the separation between rule by British East India Company and rule by British Government in India because the Company worked at the behest of the British Government and Robert Clive was made a Member of House of Commons besides being rewarded with an Irish peerage, as Lord Clive;
We recall that the Battle of Plassey was waged during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), between the British and French Governments. This corroborates the fact that the battle was being waged by the British Government, through its British Company;
On this day in 1757, British East India Company, first chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, the English Emperor in 1600 purchased Battle of Plassey , Murshidabad, on the bank of Bhagirathi River (about 170 km from Kolkata) from Mir Zafar, Army Commander of Nawab of Bengal, a province of Hindustan when Shah Alam II was its Emperor;
We recall that around 1750, India was responsible for producing over 25 per cent of the world gross domestic product (GDP) and world’s total outputs. Following the sale of Battle of Plassey, by 1800, India’s world share had already eroded to less than a fifth, by 1860 to less than a tenth, and by 1880 to less than 3 per cent. India’s share in world manufacturing output declined precipitously in the half century 1750-1800, before company-led industrialization took hold in Britain. Currently, India’s share in the world’s GDP to around five per cent now but this is at the cost of depleting Natural Capital;
Around the world, the influence of democratic legislatures is diminishing with because of the financial might of the transnational business enterprises who are operate as companies and don myriad corporate veils in the face of feeble capacity of our legislatures to pierce through it and make them subservient to legislative will;
We wish to draw the attention of legislators and fellow citizens the fact that the world order and world economy is being shaped by the big capital in possession of financial and non-financial transnational corporations, capital that uses the sovereign state only for protection, i.e., a place for securing legality of work, capital for which intergovernmental organizations (UN, IMF, WB, WTO) serve only as levers of pressure;
We wish to inform legislators and fellow citizens that as per the latest available aggregate data, about 78,000 such companies were identified in 2006, with available assets of over 51 trillion US dollars, total sales of 25 trillion dollars and 73 million employees – compared to the aggregate GDP of all the world’s countries for that year of 48.504 trillion dollars;
We submit that as per the latest published data on a group of 2000 global companies, just the top ten non-financial transnational corporations ranked by total sales realized 2.533 trillion in sales in 2007, which is more than the aggregate GDP of 161 countries according to IMF data for 2008;.
We are alarmed at the diminishing strength of Government of India when we note that the assets of the 30 largest financial transnational corporations (from the same group of 2000 global companies from 2008) amount to 48.883 trillion dollars, or more than the world’s 2007 GDP;
In such a backdrop, on 23rd June, it may recalled that Government of India has been signing treaties with various countries and intergovernmental organizations without explicit approval or sanction of central and state legislatures;
Recalling several defections from our intelligence agencies, efforts must be made to make these agencies accountable to our democratic legislature, which is not the case at present as has been revealed starkly by Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011;
On this special day, we urge the citizens of India to examine the proceedings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that has dealt with Companies Bill, 2009 and is dealing with Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010 before it is too late;
23rd June is also an apt day to ponder over the Statement of Concern issued in the matter of world’s biggest data management project, Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar Number scheme and related proposals like National Intelligence Grid by 17 eminent citizens including Justice VR Krishna Iyer to prevent `intrusive bullying’ by Government of India because the government intended to be the `servant’ of the citizens, and not their `master’. The statement underlines that national IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia, Philippines and by the British government. Based on research of UID Number related documents and advice from jurists, legal luminaries, former intelligence officials and academicians, we are convinced that UID number and related proposals pose a threat to both civil liberties as well as our natural resources;
We are disturbed by the contempt towards Parliament and State legislatures shown by The National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIAI), 2010 which has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 3, 2010 after the constitution of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and launch of UID Number project without revealing that it is linked to the Draft Land Titling Bill, 2010, Draft Paper on Privacy Bill, 2010, Draft DNA Profiling Act, 2007 and Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations (PIII) for a National Knowledge Network besides National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), Census, National Population Register and World Bank’s eTransform Initiative to converge citizen sector, private sector and public sector in order to promote a property based regime;
We wish to draw the attention of fellow citizens towards document “Homeland Security in India” underlines the connection between UID number and National Intelligence Grid. This document has been prepared by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) with a membership of over 300,000 companies and KPMG, a transnational firm that operates in 140 countries which is affiliated to KPMG International, a Swiss agency. NATGRID wishes to hand over internal security of the country to the commercial czars and recommends private territorial armies to safeguard corporate empires;
We express grave concern over NGO networks such as National Coalition of Organisations for Security of Migrant Workers having joined hands with UIDAI. It would be relevant if they take note of the statement of concern and re-assess its relationship with the UIDAI and withdraw from it;
We request those civil society organisation leaders who are opposed to the UID Number and related proposals and legislations but their names appear as if they have given consent to UID Number project ought to consider getting their names removed else they might be deemed fifth columnists;
We appreciate the considered stand of Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) that works in 21 states of the country which has disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi because it is “opposed to conditional cash transfers and the UID will be used to dictate it.” Vindicating such stance Draft National Food Security Bill, 2011 gives legal backing to the Public Distribution System (PDS), thereby excluding regressive options like cash transfers, which may have included variants like food stamps and UID-linked smart cards;
We take note of the Companies Bill, 2009 introduced in the Lok Sabha on 3rd August, 2009 [Bill No. 59 of 2009] to revise and modify the Companies Act, 1956 and to make compact by deleting provisions that had become redundant over a period of time. The Bill was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha whose 375 page report has been submitted to both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 31st August, 2010;
We wish to draw the attention of citizens towards the Companies Bill that has introduced the concept of One Person Company which means a company which has only one person as a member [Clause 2(zzk)]. The memorandum of a One Person Company shall indicate the name of the person who shall, in the event of the subscriber’s death, disability or otherwise, become the member of the company: The memorandum of a company shall state the name of the company with the last word ―OPC Limited in the case of a One Person limited company: The annual return shall be signed by the Company Secretary, or where there is no Company Secretary, by one director of the Company. As per Economic Census of 2005 done by chief statistician of India there are 42 million non-farm enterprises in the country of which less than 300,000 are corporates. The concept of One Person Company is being introduced to co-opt sector like retail with the Committee of Secretaries, Government of India considering allowing 51% FDI in this sensitive sector under the influence of global retail chains like Wal-Mart, Metro and Carrefour. Indian retail market is the fifth largest in the world with the unorganised retail sector, constituting 98% of India’s retail sector;
We have observed how the Companies Bill deals with the issue of appointment of “Independent Directors”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee observes “The role and responsibilities of Independent Directors, which has been under debate, has now come into sharp focus after the failure off many high profile corporations around the world and specially in the Indian context, the M/s Satyam Computer Services episode involving fraud and financial irregularities. Clause 49 of the listing agreement as prescribed by SEBI between the Stock Exchanges and the listed company had mandated induction of Independent Directors on their Boards w.e.f. January 1, 2006. Many brush aside the Satyam episode as a one-off-case. However, this episode needs to be seen as a watershed event for the institution of Independent Directors. It is a moot point that such a huge scam could be perpetrated, and that too for several years, under the eyes of some of the most reputed and competent persons serving its Board as Independent Directors. It has raised questions that even highly qualified persons may not provide any insurance for corporate governance, as they tend to trust and provide blind support to the promoters.” But the Committee observes, “there is a need to circumscribe and limit the liabilities of Independent Directors, so that they are able to act freely and objectively” resonating the demand of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the aftermath of the mild sentencing of Keshub Mahindra in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case. CII demanded “to treat non executive members of the Board including Non Executive Chairmen, differently when it comes to Directors’ liabilities”;
We take note of the Clause 161 of the Bill deals with the Prohibitions and Restrictions regarding political contributions. It seeks to provide the manner and limits up to which a company shall be able to contribute the amount to any political party or to any person for a political purpose. The clause further provides the manner in which every company shall disclose in its profit and loss account any amount so contributed by it during any financial year. We seek a white paper on laws relating to donations to political parties;
We have noted that contrary to the recommendations of Indrajit Gupta led all party Parliamentary Committee seeking state funding for political parties for electoral campaigns, Clause 161(1) provides that “a company, other than a Government company and a company which has been in existence for less than three financial years, may contribute any amount directly or indirectly (a) to any political party, or (b) to any person for a political purpose: Provided that the amount or, as the case may be, the aggregate of the amount which may be so contributed by the company in any financial year shall not exceed five per cent of its average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years.
We disagree with the Parliamentary Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha which has recommended that “sub-clause 1(a) of Clause 161 may be modified so as to make it clear that „any political party‟ would mean and read as „a political party registered with the Election Commission.” The Committee also recommend that “the prescribed maximum percentage for contributions to political parties in a financial year may be raised to 7.5% from the existing 5% of the average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years, keeping in view the fact that the number of political parties in the country has increased and such donations are not made every financial year.
We recall that Companies Bill, 2009 has been proposed in compliance with the recommendations of an Expert Committee on New Company Law headed by Dr J. J. Irani, Director, Tata Sons Limited that submitted its report to the Government on 31st May, 2005. The proposal stipulating a mandatory 2 per cent spend of annual profit on corporate social responsibility is just a public relations exercise. The Companies bill, 2008 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 23rd October 2008 but due to dissolution of 14th Lok Sabha, the Companies Bill, 2008 lapsed.
When the British government chartered company took control of India, it was one of the richest countries in the world, when it left India in 1947 due to a legislation of the British Parliament; it became one of the poorest countries in the world.
Therefore, we urge fellow citizens to take cognizance of the retail sector’s contribution of 14% to the national GDP and it employing 7% of the total workforce (only agriculture employs more) in the country that the retail industry is one of the pillars of our economy.
In such a context, Free Trade Agreements with countries like EU and Japan, Companies Bill, FDI in retail, UID Number and related proposals have emerged as a threat to citizens of India, our socialist constitution, economy and national sovereignty;
We salute the sacrifice of the soldiers led by Mir Madan, the commander of Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey;
We applaud the role of Mohan Lal, the commander of Nawab of Bengal Battle of Plassey;
We reiterate the condemnation of treachery committed by Mir Zafar, Rai Durlabh, Yar Lutuf Khan and Omichand, “the most material engine in the intended revolution” by the British Company;
On this historic day, we call upon citizens to combat the act of silencing of invisible and inconvenient historical facts about our histories especially about 1757, 1764, 1857 and 1947 and those who were loyal to British East India Company;
We call on all thinking fellow citizens of India to recognize transnational or intergovernmental or non-governmental organization -be it financial and non financial- to be a “political institution”. The British Company too was a political organizations as is the with associations of companies;
The Battle of Plassey may have been sold or lost to British East India Company, let us resolve to identify both the true defenders of sovereignty and the traitors and remind ourselves of the lessons 23rd June has for the Indians to ensure that history of our defeat is not repeated ever again.
Quebec & Canada Condemned for Support of Chrysotile Asbestos Industry at UN Meet
Indian Government Paves Way for Ban on Chrysotile Asbestos, terms it Hazardous Chemical
Rotterdam Alliance, Calls Canada, Cancer Culprit, a Pariah State
Is Bihar Government Listening?
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Condemns Quebec and Canadian Government’s anti-public health, anti-environment and anti-worker stance in the matter of list of Chrysotile Asbestos as a hazardous chemical. BANI appreciates Government of India for taking this long delayed step to join the international consensus against chrysotile asbestos. In a statement, Rotterdam Alliance states that the industry prefers that people are not given the information that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous.
Chrysotile (serpentine forms of asbestos) is being proposed to be included in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure as an industrial chemical at the UN’s fifth meeting of Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in the conference. Its listing is based on the final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict its use due to its impacts on health as notified by Australia, Chile and the European Union.
Amidst growing incessant demand for ban on trade, manufacture and use of chrysotile asbestos, Government of India’s delegation in Geneva, Switzerland announced that they had reconsidered their opposition and would support listing of chrysotile asbestos in the UN list of hazardous chemicals.
BANI, an alliance of public health researchers, human rights and labour groups welcome Government of India’s support the inclusion of Chrysotile (white) asbestos in Annex III (PIC list).
It is indeed a dramatic breakthrough that would pave the way for ending the deadlock over the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the PIC list and eventually for complete ban on the killer fibers. Approximately 50, 000 people die every year in India due to asbestos related cancer. But so far Government of India has failed to take a pro-people’s health position and a scientific stand on the import of chrysotile asbestos whose mining is technically banned in India.
The Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention has recommended inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos twice. It is now being considered for the third time. Under the negative influence of Canada and other chrysotile asbestos producing countries, Government of India has been blocking its inclusion citing industry sponsored studies since 2004. So far it has been according priority to the profit of chrysotile asbestos companies instead of protecting environmental and occupational health.
Indian delegation also agreed to chair a small group to continue discussions with opponents to listing about their specific concerns. Canada has confirmed that it would not join any consensus on listing chrysotile asbestos.
A small drafting group was formed to draft an accompanying decision to one listing chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, to request parties and all other stakeholders to promote information exchange on measures to minimize risks and on alternative substances in order to facilitate potential agreement. When the small drafting group announced no consensus had been reached on listing chrysotile asbestos, decision was deferred at least till the conclusion of the COP5 on 24th June. BANI hopes that the delegates at COP5 will be able to persuade Canada to change its position before the meeting concludes.
Under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”, the conference is considering measures to strengthen implementation of the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.
The Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004. It built on the voluntary Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989, which gave way to the formalities of the Convention. The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004 and makes the PIC Procedure legally binding.
In order for COP5 to be deemed successful, it is very important that chrysotile asbestos is listed on Annex III of the convention. If that happens, “Prior Informed Consent” will become mandatory before chrysotile asbestos producing countries such as Canada and Russia can export this killer mineral fiber.
Environmental groups like BANI have been making incessant demand for the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos in UN List of Hazardous Chemicals List. India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has admitted an application and registered a case with regard to the phase out of the chrysotile asbestos based industries and its listing as a hazardous chemical, a fact which has wrongly been disputed by Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi. The UN Meet on Hazardous Chemicals vindicates BANI’s position which has been demanding closure of chrysotile asbestos based plants in Bhojpur, Vaisahali and Muzaffarpur.
Indian states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and others where new chrysotile asbestos based plants are proposed will now have to abandon their plans.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660,
Reliable sources have revealed that the cash buyer (current unofficial owner) of MV Wisdom is one Mr Gupta and the buyer is one Mr Bansal. Both are involved in ship-breaking at Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
There are two possibilities being discussed with regard to MV Wisdom. One, it has been purchased at Alang delivery. This implies that the responsibility is of the original owner. Two, this ship under tow has been sold on a “as is where is basis”. It means ship was sold at Colombo delivery where it was lying for a while.
One does not know whether the vessel has been fully insured?
Sources feel that a senior officer in the Union Ministry of Shipping who is quite familiar with the Alang ship breaking activities plans to repeat his act which he successfully attempted in the case of end-of-life hazardous US ship Platinum II (SS Independence, MV Oceanic). Platinum II outwitted Union Minister for Environment’s official memorandum that denied it the beaching permission under the guidance of this very official. It was this official who was the ghost writer of the letter that was sent to the Union Environmet & Forests Ministry.
In 2009 MV Oceanic (renamed Platinum II) departed Dubai for Alang, being towed by a tug Barakhoda. The tug apparently lost all power and setting the two vessels adrift some 25 km off Alang. Another tug was sent to assist Barakhoda and her crew of nine.
In October 2009, documentary proof of fake certificates emerged about the “SS Platinum-II” following efforts by ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA). Indian Environment Ministry acted following TWA’s complaint taking note of falsified papers in order to evade legal regulations.
Sadly, the Ministry of Environment and Forests intervened too late amid TWA’s demand that the ship be returned to the U.S. for being illegally exported.
Platinum II was abandoned at Gopnath, Bhavnagar in a region south of the Alang on the Gujarat coast. Platinum II was laying off shore with guards on board to protect the ship from looting and vandals.
There were planted news reports of the hull being cracked (an unsubstantiated charge made by the ship’s owners to urge the Gujarat Maritime Board to allow the ship to be beached in November).
After running aground in February 2010 mud had made it into Platinum II’s cracked hull. In later news reports from India claimed the ship, aground and abandoned at Gopnath, some ten miles south of Alang, was beginning to suffer structural cracks and that it would never be able to move from her current resting place.
In March 2010 the vessel’s hull cracked aft of the accommodation (roughly at one third of the length from the aft) and the whole hull was lying at an angle of about 35 degrees.
The case of dead US ship Platinum II merits high level probe else it has set a precedent that is all set to be repeated time and time again with the connivance of senior officials. MV Wisdom case seems to be a illustrative case.
It has been reported that this dead vessel was under investigation by the Gujarati anti-terrorist unit for smuggling radioactive, hazardous, and toxic waste to organized crime. There were also news reports that this ships was looted in May-June 2010. TWA demands a intelligence probe in the matter of Platinum II, MV Wisdom and some 120 vessels currently lying on the Alang beach as if the beach has been outsourced to ship owning developed countries from US, Europe, Japan etc.
More than 2000 workers of the Maruti Suzuki factory at Manesar, Gurgaon are on strike since last June 4 and are sitting inside the factory itself. Their demands are totally lawful. For now they are just demanding that their legal right to form their own union be recognised. According to them, the Maruti Udyog Workers’ Union based at the Gurgaon plant which is recognized by the Maruti management is totally under control of management and it has been ignoring the demands of the workers of Manesar factory. As per the labour law, they have all the rights to form their own union and all the workers support this demand. These include a large number of contract workers and apprentice workers who have been working in the factory for years.
But the management of Maruti, in a totally illegal manner, has refused to give recognition to the union and is adopting fascist tactics to break the agitation. It is getting open support from the Congress government of Haryana in this move.
The documents which were submitted by the workers to the office of labour commissioner of Haryana at Chandigarh by the workers were immediately sent by the labour commissioner to the management of Maruti Suzuki through fax. After this, the management started pressurising the workers to sign on a blank paper. According to the workers, it was to be used as an undertaking from them that they wanted to remain in the old union itself. It was against the threats and intimidation and forcibly taking signatures that the workers went on strike from June 4 and decided to stay put within the factory itself.
The management immediately declared the strike as illegal and the 11 leading workers were dismissed. Even the Haryana government followed suit and has declared the movement as illegal.
The workers are sitting inside the factory gates for last 10 days. The management has disconnected the electricity and water supply in the factory premises and even the canteen has been closed down. The workers are sitting in the same dress for last 11 days in excruciating summer heat but they are sticking to their demands. Large number of police personnel and armed security guards of Maruti are deployed at the factory gate who stop everyone at a distance of 100 meter from the factory gate. Not even the media persons and the relatives of workers are being allowed to meet the workers. The relatives who take food to the workers inside are also being threatened and intimidated.
The state government is brazenly standing with the management of Maruti Suzuki. For last few days, a farce of negotiations was being played in the presence of the labour minister of the state in which the management remained adamant on not giving recognition to the union and not reinstating the 11 dismissed workers. But the labour minister has given a statement that “the kids (i.e. the workers) are committing stupidity. These days one hardly gets a job and therefore they must return to work”. Openly forsaking his responsibility to enforce law he has said that now the state government would not intervene between the management and the workers. In other words, the management is free to deal with the workers in whatever manner it wants.
The management is trying to end the strike by tiring out the workers, threats and cheap tricks to demoralise them. The contract workers are being forced to take their remaining wages and leave the premises. Even the workers’ families are being pressurised to ask them to end the strike. The farce of talks is being extended even while the Maruti Suzuki management is not ready to negotiate on any of the demands.
The central unions have played the same role they have been playing in most of the struggles in the past years. Some unions have been trying to “own” the agitation and claiming that the newly formed union is affiliated to them but the reality is that they have done nothing to support this militant strike continuing since July 4 except issuing statements in the media.
At least 2 million workers work in hundreds of units situated in the vast industrial belt in and around Gurgaon. There are around 1 million workers work in the units of automobile industry alone. These workers who produce auto parts for companies from all over the world in modern factories have to work in very bad conditions. More than 90 percent of these are contract workers who work for 10-12 hours for 4000-5000 per month. The workload and speed is extremely high and they have to face verbal abuse and even beatings by the supervisors and security guards. Most of the factories do not have unions and where the workers have managed to form a union, they have to face constant harrassment. The established big unions do nothing except paying lip service to the issues and in many cases have ditched the workers in favour of the management. In this scenario, the issue of the right to form a union is a common and universal issue in the Gurgaon industrial belt.
The workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar may earn a little bit more than other workers but they too work in very bad conditions. The work load is very high and sometimes they have to work for even 16 hours at a stretch. Getting a leave or off day is extremely difficult and heavy fines are imposed for even a few minutes delay. They get two short breaks of 7-8 minutes for lunch and tea, even toilet breaks are not allowed in between. They have to face abuses and threats if they refuse to work overtime. This is the reason behind the resolute struggle of the workers to form their separate union.
We appeal to all democratic rights activists, intellectuals, jurists, media persons and justice loving citizens for solidarity and support to their just struggle.
What you can do:
– We request that you send a letter of protest through email, fax, phone, letter and telegram to the Chief Minister, chief secretary, labour minister and labour secretary of Haryana and the officials of Maruti Suzuki India and Suzuki Japan, send memorandums and run a signature campaign to protest the repression of workers. The addresses, email ids, fax number etc are given below.
– Spread the news of this agitaion through your website, blog and facebook and appeal for support.
– We request that teams of civil rights activists should come to Gurgaon and investigate the situation, prepare their report and let the voice of justice reach the government and people.
– We urge that you organise protest demonstrations on this issue in Delhi, Chandigarh and other cities of the country.
– If friends from Delhi and other cities can come to Gurgaon and extend their support to the workers’ movement and launch a ‘satyagrah’ in their support, it will strenthen their struggle.
– Citizens Front in Support of the Maruti Udyog Workers’ movement