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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: International | San Francisco | Labor & Workers
International Solidarity Protest In SF Against Life Terms For India Suzuki Auto Workers
A protest was held at the San Francisco India consulate on April 4, 2017 to protest the life sentences for 13 Maruti Suzuki auto workers. The company and the reactionary Narendra Damodardas Modi government in India has promised Suzuki and other multi-nationals the use of cheap slave like labor and massive government repression against workers who try to unionize.
International Solidarity Protest In SF Against Life Terms For India Maruti Suzuki Auto Workers
As part of an international protest against the life imprisonment of 13 India Maruti Suzuki auto workers, a solidarity rally was held at the San Francisco India consulate on April 4, 2017.
The rally was addressed by phone by a representative cde. Jitender, who is a member of the Provisional Working Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) and other trade unionists. Supporters of the jailed India Supporters of the imprisoned trade unionists also discussed the role of international capital including UBER in attacking workers and destroying their labor and human rights in India, the US and around the world.
Hundreds of Maruti Suzuki workers were jailed in a blatant effort to terrorize the union supporters and prevent the workers from establishing an independent union.
The reactionary role of India prime minister Narendra Damodardas Modi in colluding with multinationals to supply cheap labor and using massive repression and union busting at Maruti Suzuki and other corporations to prevent unionization by the workers was also protested. Workers reported that they were not even allowed to go to the bathroom while on the assembly line and faced horrific health and safety conditions. Also a resolution of solidarity for the Maruti Suzuki auto workers and calls for their immediate release from the San Francisco Labor Council was delivered to consulate officials.
For more information from Maruti Suzuki Workers
Contact: 7011865350 (Ramniwas), 9911258717 (Khusiram) on behalf of the PWC, MSWU.
marutiworkersstruggle [at] gmail.com
The solidarity action was initiated by United Public Workers For Action UPWA.info and co-sponsored by Co-sponsored by U.S. Supporters of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers' International.
Labor Video Project
Report From Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) On Attack On India Maruti Suzuki Auto Workers And Statements Of Solidarity At SF India Consulate
Message from cde. Jitender, a member of the Provisional Working Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU), to the April 5 protest action in front of the Consulate of India in San Francisco
[Note: This message, delivered through an interpreter (cde. Amit of the MSWU), was presented live over a phone hookup that was broadcast to all the rally participants and that drew many of the youth of Indian descent who were at the Consulate for visa matters. It was close to midnight in Delhi, where both Indian unionists are based, when this live phone hookup took place. The rally was sponsored jointly by United Public Workers For Action (UPWA) and U.S. Supporters of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers International (IWC).]
Alan Benjamin (co-organizer of the S.F. rally): Comrades Jitender and Amit: We are gathered here in San Francisco in front of the Consulate of India to demand that the Indian authorities immediately release all the wrongfully convicted Maruti Suzuki workers, especially the 13 unionists sentenced to life imprisonment. We thank you for staying up late to take this phone call, and we would like to ask if you could please give us a report on the protest actions that took place across India both on April 4 and April 5.
Cde. Jitender, through an interpreter: We would like to begin by extending our great salute to all of you, and particularly to the San Francisco Labor Council, which on 3 April passed a resolution in support of the Maruti workers that was an inspiration to all the workers here in India. For that we are very grateful to you. Your protest demonstration in San Francisco today is also an inspiration to us.
The latest protest demonstrations started on 4 April in 17 states across India, in more than 35 cities. The actions covered all the major cities of India. Similar protest demonstrations took place across India today [5 April]. We haven’t received all the reports yet, as we just returned from the demonstration in Gurgaon in which the Maruti workers took part -- just as they did in the protest demonstration on 4 April.
We are also receiving information that demonstrations and other actions took place today in cities all around the world in support of the Maruti workers.
The Provisional Working Committee of the MSWU is now passing all this information along to the comrades in jail who were given life sentences. It is very inspiring to them as well. Workers’ solidarity, both across India and internationally, will give us the strength to carry on the struggle; it will give us the strength to prevail!
Steve Zeltzer (co-organizer of the S.F. rally): It is very important that we are able to hold this rally jointly with you over this phone hookup. As workers, we are connected internationally; we work for, and are exploited by, the same transnational corporations, so we need to act internationally. Can you please tell us about the conditions at Maruti Suzuki that led you to organize a union, and could you also tell us about the repression you have faced trying to build your union and to organize the workers’ fightback against capitalist exploitation?
Cde. Jitender, through an interpreter: The Maruti Suzuki plant started its production in 2006. The working conditions were inhumane: Workers were not allowed even to go to the toilet or to drink water. The wages were so low they were near the minimum wage. These issues were so serious that the workers demanded a union to have the right to collective bargaining.
But the management did not allow the union. In 2011,the workers had to wage three strikes to achieve their union. They finally got their union registered, but the management was hell-bent on crushing the union. And that is why on 18 July 2012 a kind of clash took place, where the management tried to victimize the workers.
Before that event, the main demand of the workers was the permanency of the contract workers. It is still a central demand. In India contract workers have been employed in industries, including in Maruti, in great numbers -- particularly to break the unity of workers. But here in Maruti, from the beginning the union demanded the permanency of contract workers, and it emphasized the need for unity between permanent and contract workers.
Thus, after 18 July 2012, when management goons attacked the workers and the conspiracy was made to victimize the workers, the multinational corporations and the Indian government seized upon these events to wage a class war against the workers, a class war that is still going on today.
Management, the judiciary, and the government still want to terrorize the workers as part of this class war against the workers. They are out to crush the unions, particularly this movement. The repression has continued for the last five or six years. This issue of punishing the Maruti workers and giving them life sentences is a symbolic act to terrorize the workers’ movement.
Alan Benjamin: On behalf of all of us gathered here at this rally, we thank you for your live message. We pledge our ongoing support to your struggle. We will deepen this solidarity campaign in our unions, our workplaces, and our communities till the Maruti Suzuki 13 and all the jailed Maruti Suzuki workers are free.
And we will conclude this live hookup by chanting in unison, “Free the Maruti Suzuki Workers!”
* * * * * * * * * *
Remarks by Ralph Schoenman, Taking Aim
(April 5, 2017 International Day of Solidarity With the Maruti Suzuki 13 at the Indian Consulate, San Francisco)
Sisters and Brothers,
The life sentences imposed by an Indian court are an emblem of the brutal conditions that define the waking hours of working people in sweatshop plants across India.
No small part of this legal terror consists of lesser charges arising from the frame-up. These were designed to silence worker voices of protest against brutal conditions that are a touchstone of the daily work routine at Maruti Suzuki and torment workers exploited relentlessly by transnational corporations operating globally in the capitalist world.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a touchstone of his “Make in India” campaign an assurance to investors that the Indian State will secure for foreign exploiters a continuous supply of cheap labor.
Everything flows from this subordination of State power to foreign Capital, notably a reign of terror administered through State and legal institutions that serve as a corporate enforcement arm on a daily basis.
When Suzuki Motor Corporation announced to its shareholders that SMC controls some 50 percent of India’s passenger vehicle market it went on to boast that the profits extracted from the sweat and blood of oppressed workers would achieve unprecedented heights in an additional 125 countries.
As a result, Suzuki surpassed its rivals Toyota and Nissan in 2016 -- in growth as in the onerous conditions Imposed on its brutalized workforce.
This is the dynamic of persecution and frame-up of the Maruti Suzuki 13. The staged fire and the terror that followed it are, in their own way, a measure of ruler panic whose ruthlessness is a step too far -- at once an incitement and a survival summons to worker resistance.
The rebellion of the damned seized upon the arrogant proclamations of Maruti Suzuki in Manesar no less than those of Gurgaon in Haryana State – which opened production in Gujarat in 2017 by boasting of a projected production schedule of 1.5 million cars a year -- or one car every 12 seconds!
Maruti Suzuki was rewarded by Fortune Magazine, which proclaimed it one of India’s “most admired companies” even as the English language channel NDTV designated Maruti Suzuki “2016’s Car Manufacturer of the Year.”
Sisters and Brothers! The ruined lives of the enslaved once fueled the reckless braggadocio of a Marie Antoinette whose insolent response to the starving was “Let them eat cake!”
Workers across the length and breadth of India have responded as did the abandoned of the earth who gave us the French Revolution.
Raise the banner of resistance high, brothers and sisters. The emancipation of the wretched of the earth awaits us.
Here and everywhere!
SFLC Resolution In Solidarity with the Wrongly Convicted Unionists of Maruti-Suzuki in India
RESOLUTION in Solidarity with the Wrongly Convicted Unionists of Maruti-Suzuki in India
(adopted by the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, on April 3, 2017)
Whereas, on March 18, 2017, a District Judge in Gurgaon, Northern India, sentenced 13 union activists at the Maruti-Suzuki auto plant to life imprisonment and 4 other unionists to five years in jail after the workers were wrongfully convicted one week earlier in the unfortunate death of a plant manager;
Whereas, 12 of the 13 union activists sentenced to life in prison were office-holders of the Maruti-Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU), which was created by the workers in April 2012 to fight for better wages and working conditions, and to abolish the hated contract and temporary work system.
Whereas, management had refused to recognize and negotiate with the new independent union formed by the workers, to the point of boycotting negotiations, firing workers illegally for organizing the new union, and bringing in 200 "bouncers" (gangs of thugs) to provoke confrontations and thus place the onus for violence on the union; in fact, it was as a result of this company-instigated provocation that a fire occurred that led to the death of the plant's Human Resources director on July 18, 2012;
Whereas, the International Commission on Labor Rights (ICLR) and other recognized international labor rights organizations have reported that the company and the prosecutor were not able to provide any evidence to prove that the convicted unionists were responsible for the death of the personnel manager; in fact the main argument presented by the prosecutor was that the unionists needed to be punished harshly (the prosecution was asking for the death penalty) so that "investors' confidence in India and in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' policy could be restored."
Whereas, an additional 117 Maruti-Suzuki union activists, who have now been absolved of all wrongdoing, were slandered as "terrorists" and spent four years in prison with no trial whatsoever, while almost all 2,500 workers were dismissed illegally, resulting in an almost complete replacement of the workforce.
Whereas, the government of Narendra Modi, a close ally of Donald Trump, has been actively criminalizing union organizing in the new industrial belts of Northern India in an attempt to woo foreign investment to India,
Whereas, the Indian workers have not been intimidated by the company and government threats: On March 18, more than 30,000 workers in five Suzuki-Maruti plants went on strike for one hour immediately after the sentencing, and before that 100,000 workers of the region boycotted lunch and dinner;
Whereas, a national day of strikes and protests all across India has been called on April 5 by the 10 main trade union federations in India -- including the two federations (HMS and INTUC) affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with which the AFL-CIO is affiliated -- to demand that the Modi government (1) drop all the bogus charges against the Maruti-Suzuki 13 unionists sentenced to life in prison and against the four other convicted Maruti-Suzuki workers, and (2) that the Maruti-Suzuki 13 and the other four unionists be released immediately from jail; and
Whereas, an international labor solidarity campaign with the Maruti-Suzuki workers is being waged in more than 30 countries, with actions and other initiatives (delegations to Indian embassies and consulates, press conferences, etc.) on April 5.
Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) calls upon the authorities in India to drop all charges against the imprisoned Maruti-Suzuki workers and immediately release them from prison;
Be it further resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls on the Indian authorities to provide financial compensation for all the wrongfully convicted Maruti-Suzuki workers;
Be it further resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council will deliver this resolution to the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on April 5, the international day of action in solidarity with the Maruti-Suzuki unionists; and
Be it finally resolved, that San Francisco Labor Council will forward this resolution to the California Federation of Labor for concurrence to show that the California labor movement stands firmly behind the Maruti-Suzuki unionists' fight for justice and for their right to form a union of their choice to fight for their legitimate demands.
Respectfully submitted by Anand Singh (Unite Here Local 2), Olga Miranda (SEIU LOCAL 87) and Alan Benjamin (OPEIU Local 29)
* * * * * * * * * *
April 5 SF International Solidarity Day of Action For Maruti Suzuki Workers -- Free The 13 Jailed Maruti Suzuki Workers
Wednesday April 5, 2017 @ 11:00 AM
540 Arguello Blvd/Geary
Sponsored jointly by the United Public Workers For Action UPWA and U.S. Supporters of the
International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers' International.
For more information, contact:
415-641-4440 or 415-216-5346
Appeal to Observe 4th/5th April as All-India & International Day of Protest: Free the Maruti Workers!
MARCH 29, 2017
You are aware of the repression on us by the nexus of Company management-Police-Government, as 13 MSWU members have been sentenced to Life Imprisonment and 4 more workers handed 5 years by the Gurgaon Sessions Court on 18 March 2017 - without a shred of evidence, and solely on the false witness accounts by the management.
The MSWU body members have been targeted because they have been the leadership of the struggle since 2011 against illegal contract worker system and for Trade Union rights and dignity of labour. It is a 'class attack' as in the words of Maruti CEO RC Bhargava. All workers know that this manifestly unjust verdict is to 'teach a lesson' to us by those in power that we should not fight for our rights and dignity on the shop-floor and beyond.
But against this repression, thousands of workers in this industrial belt and across India and world are protesting. On the evening of the Verdict on 18th May, 30000 workers in Gurgaon-Manesar did tool down strike against the injustice. The Maruti Suzuki Mazdoor Sangh (MSMS)-the joint platform of Maruti Suzuki factories-had given a call for Protest on the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh-Rajguru-Sukhdev on 23rd March in Manesar. Despite prohibitory orders of Section 144, thousands of workers from the industrial belts in Haryana and Rajasthan rallied in protest from factory after factory in Manesar. A letter from the Jailed workers was read out, and a call given to intensify the struggle for the release of the Jailed workers. It was also decided to give economic assistance to families of the Jailed workers.
On this 23rd March Protest program, we already appealed to all to observe 4th April as an all-India Day and International of Protest. Preparations for the same have already begun in various places. Meanwhile, recognized Central Trade Unions later issued a call to organize all-India Protest in solidarity with the Maruti Suzuki workers on 5th April. So, We appeal to all workers and pro-worker forces to observe 4th/5th April 2017 as all-India and International Days of Protest and show solidarity in whatever ways possible.
The struggling workers in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal-Neemrana industrial belt in the states of Haryana-Rajasthan are showing that they will not relent on their legitimate rights and strengthen their class unity against the capitalist onslaught. We have also received great courage, encouragement and thank the amazing show of Solidarity of workers with the struggle for Justice of Maruti workers. Since the last few days, there have been protests by lakhs of workers in this and other industrial belts and by various workers, student-youth, human rights and other democratic organizations in over 30 cities in the country, and deputations and solidarity positions and actions in over 21 countries. This is a long battle, and only the growing force of the movement and wider solidarity can take the struggle forward.
Provisional Working Committee,
Maruti Suzuki Workers Union
Contact: 7011865350 (Ramniwas), 9911258717 (Khusiram) on behalf of the PWC, MSWU.
Email: marutiworkerstruggle [at] gmail.com
The use of company and police guards are common place not only at the Maruti Suzuki plant but other plants owned by multi-nationals in India.
The India Maruti Suzuki plant had extremely repressive labor conditions including refusing the rights of the workers to go to the bathroom while they were on the assembly line. The Modi government has offered Japanese and other multi-national corporations including from the US slave like conditions for greater profits.
The government in collusion with Maruti Suzuki framed up hundreds of workers and has imprisoned 13 for life. There is an international campaign to demand their release
The India police attacked mass actions by the Maruti- Suzuki workers and colluded with the company to stop unionization
Supporters of the 13 jailed Maruti Suzuki auto workers rallied at the San Francisco India consulate to demand their release. Also a speaker talked about the role of UBER in exploiting workers in India and the United States. Multi-nationals are seeking to destroy labor conditions and worker rights of workers throughout the world for greater profits.
Families of jailed Maruti Suzuki workers joined marches and rallies in India and around the world to demand that their family members be released.
Hundreds of workers have been jailed and this massive repression by the government is seeking to assure not only Maruti Suzuki but other multi-nationals that their plants will be union free.