Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar is a monthly publication in Hindi. It started in 1982 when 1000 copies were being published every month in 2 page format. Currently they publish 7000 copies and distribute it for free by standing on the road-side in shift changing hours. It takes them 10 days to distribute 7000 copies and most of the copies are taken by industrial workers working in thousands of factories in Faridabad and adjoining industrial areas of Delhi.In Faridabad, three-fourths of the factory workers are invisible workers, or workers who are not in the company’s records. 85% are temporary workers and workers hired through contractors. The statutory minimum wages, presently Rs. 3,914 [US$ 83.28 approx.] per month, are not paid to 80% of the work force. Even permanent workers are not paid wages for two-three-four-six months. Workers of hundreds of factories that have been closed have not been paid their legal dues even after five-ten-fifteen years of factory closure. Each issue of ‘Faridabad Majdoor Samachar’ caries articulations of workers of 50 to 60 factories on such issues. First hand experiences of the wage workers makes up most of the newspaper. At Thozhilalar Koodam, we are planning to print one article each month from FMS in Tamil.
Law breaking has become normal. Law abiding is an exception. Laws are not working. Laws have become meaningless. Laws have lost their utility. Is this an indication of something unusual ? This is an indication of the fact that social relations which are the foundation of law, those social relations have stopped working, those social relations have lost their meaning and utility. The failure of social relations and laws is looking for a new social contract and is a harbinger of a new, radical social restructuring. What is the utility of a social structure based on the notions of high-low, market-money, sell-buy, loss-profit, rupee-paise and exploitation of labour ? The seven billion people of this world are pondering over this question ? The factory workers have a role to play in this dialogue. In this context, to contribute to the the dialogue, Mazdoor Samachar presents a series of interviews.
SKH metals worker : SKH metals is located Inside Gate number 4 of the Maruti suzuki premises at IMT Manesar. Thousand workers who belong to seven contract companies are employed here. The factory was established in 2006 here but not a single permanent worker works in this company. Here, inside the press shops, welding shops, paint shops workers work in 2 12 hours shifts and make large suspensions and axles for the Maruti cars. Overtime is paid at single rate. The welding shop has 2 sections in which 80 to 90 robots are functional. Many times sensors didn’t work and accidents used to happen. After death of a worker due to a robot, maintenance did improve in the plant but company reduced the manpower. In stations where 9 workers used to work, there are now only 6 workers and some workers operate 2 stations at once! Due to more work and especially continuous 12 hour work of welding, the strain on eyes are immense. It is common to see workers quit, workers getting fired or new contract workers coming in. Whenever Maruti Suzuki had a holiday, SKH metals also has a holiday and so for 50-60 days in a year SKH metals remained closed. During these days, company did not pay the workers. We have to report 15 minutes before every shift, but taking into account this time, we ask to leave early or after a few weeks, ask for a holiday , it is not given to us. Two three years back they started giving us bonus, but it’s a meager 10 rupees per shift.
Graffiti Exports worker : Our factory is situated in Gurgaon. We make dresses of various sizes for women. In August, the dresses were packed and ready for shipment, when the inspectors from buying house came to check the quality. They opened some boxes and saw that in some, the pressing was not adequate and in some, the stitches were not correct. They ended up opening all the cartons and everything from sewing to pressing to packing had to be redone. Now in October when compliance committee was going to visit the factory, the new manager called us for a meeting 10 minutes before the lunch break and said ‘if compliance committee comes, tell them you get paid on 7th of every month, and are never asked to do overtime. That you get paid leave as well as casual leave and every Sunday is off. Tell them that ESI norms, PF are applicable and every one has got a card. Tell that you have an appointment card as well and if they ask to show it, say that its in your room. Say that we give you bonus. If they ask how long you have been working, say you are all new and don’t say you are here for 5 months or 2 years’. Workers didn’t show any interest in what the manager said and were talking among themselves, asking if this guy is a fraud that he is asking to tell so many lies ?
Details Export worker : Our factory is in Delhi. In 2011, out of the 400 tailors employed by the factory, 43 were dismissed. Workers went to Labour Commissioner and the company went to high court. After 33 months in November 2014, high court gave a ruling and 21 tailors were taken back. But during this time, 16 other tailors had already left the company. On 16th September of this year, company once again dismissed all the 21 workers that court had asked them to hire back.
P S enterprise worker : Our factory is in Faridabad. We work in 2 shifts of 11.5 hours. The work is done using power press on automobile parts. In order to give the machines a rest, the management switches them off for half an hour after every shift. We get metal sheets from Kalpana factory and as per the instructions given by Maruti Suzuki, Tata , Mahindra, after working on the sheets we send them back to Kalpana factory. Lots of times, hands are severed on Power presses. Once, in a week five people had severe hand related accidents. Shishupal lost three finger, Chand lost his thumb, Rakesh lost his finger, Sunny lost his thumb and Sher Singh lost one finger as well as his thumb. Director says this isn’t a big deal. This can keep on happening and on power press accidents can always happen! The injured are never taken to ESI hospitals but to some private clinic and trauma centers.
Security Guard : 20 of us were employed by a firm called DSS security and were working at a Manesar based factory. Factory closed down and contract of DSS security was terminated on 7th March. February’s wage was not given till 23rd of March and three of us went to Labour Commissioner’s office to register a complaint. Between April and July, they used to give us a new date for resolving the dispute every 10 to 15 days. Then finally Labour Inspector told us to hire a lawyer. The lawyer took 500 rs. from each of us and decided to take 10% of our salary. Now for last 2 months we keep on getting new dates and the lawyer is saying it will take more time.
Sandhar components worker : Our factory is in Manesar. We make components for Honda and Hero bikes. There are 20 permanent workers, 135 staff and 400 workers are through contractors. We work in 12 hour shifts. In the molding sector, engineer is always standing on our heads. He tells us to even drink our tea while working.
Kailaash Ribbon worker : Our factory is in Gurgaon. In February 2013, we struck work for 3 days. We didn’t go inside the factory and sat outside the gate. Workers from both shifts stayed outside and we remained there for 24 hours. After which the company decided to pay us the Minimum wage as determined by the Haryana Government. There are 400 workers in the factory who work in 2 shifts of 12 hours. We make ribbons, buttons, tags. We also colour threads and do printing. The company does a lots of botched up job in legal documents.
Millenium Embroidary worker : Our factory is in Delhi, and we work in 2 shifts of 12 hours. No worker is given ESI or PF, including the master. Not a single worker is paid minimum wage as decided by the government. For 26 days of work the helper gets 7500 and for 26 days of work, 12 hour each day, an operator gets 9000-10,500 rupees.
Interview fashion worker : Our factory is in Delhi. Out of the 180 workers employed by the company, not a single one is paid even minimum wage. Only 60 workers get ESI and PF. In a month we do 200 to 300 hours of overtime and get paid single rate for it! We demanded minimum wage as governed by the Delhi government and struck work for 2 days. There was no effect. Helpers get 6000-6500 rupees per month and stitch workers (tailors) get 7500-8700 rupees.
Indo Autotech worker : This factory is in Manesar. There are 800 workers who work in 2 shifts of 11.5 to 12.5 hours. We make parts for Honda. There were 50 regular workers, now there are 10! Due to Union affairs, 40 were dismissed.
Theme Export Worker : Our factory is in Delhi and has 50 women workers who do Crafting work. We get 5000 rupees per month, although the legal minimum wage for our line of work is 9048 in Delhi.