Tamilnadu Workers Lend Solidarity ; plan campaign to boycott Honda vehicles
Terminated workers of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India ltd (HMSI) took out a rally from Dharuhera in Haryana from the 28th of September and reached Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on 2nd October. The Nyay Sangarsh Rally (the struggle for justice rally) as it was called, was to popularize the campaign to boycott Honda vehicles. The workers were demanding that they be re instated at the Tapukara plant and the false cases against the workers be immediately quashed. 5 workers, including the president of the workers union (Honda Motorcycle and Scooters 2f Kamgaar samooh) are on hunger fast since 19th of September. Workers and students affiliated to AICCTU, AISA and RYA from Tamil Nadu visited the struggling workers of Honda Tapukara in Jantar Mantar on 28th, September 2016, on the 10th day of their hunger fast. They extended their solidarity to the workers struggle in Honda.
Over 70 terminated workers took out the Nyay Sangarsh Rally from Dharuhera in Haryana, through Manesar, Gurgoan, Khapaseda and JNU to reach Jantar Mantar. It was a five day, 100 km rally. The rally members were greeted by factory workers in all the major industrial regions along the route. At IMT Manesar, a large group of Maruti workers, along with workers from Bellsonica and Honda Manesar, welcomed the rally and provided them with water and refreshments. Deepak Mehala, vice president of the Honda 2f samooh, said that even though the police tried to rush them through, the unions supported them and they had a brief public meeting. “we spoke to the workers about our struggle and our decision to start a nation-wide product boycott. They were very supportive of the struggle” he said.
Deepak Mehala (28) is a terminated permanent worker at Honda Tapukara. He said that he was terminated following the tool down strike in Feb 2016, (reference here). “120 permanent workers and over 2500 contract workers were terminated and we were lathi charged by the police because we agitated against a supervisor who had beaten and abused a co workers” he said.
Following this the workers moved through Gurgoan, the next day and reached Khapseda Border on 30th, where they were greeted by union leaders and labour activists including Beegul Mazdoor Dasta (Beegul Workers Front). On the first evening they reached JNU campus, where the students union members and hundreds of students are supporting the campaign. When the administration refused entry, the students forced the gates open and escorted the workers into the campus, where a large public meeting was held at 9pm. Com. Deepak, highlighted the support from the students as being very inspiring and said that the workers elaborated their demands.
The rally members left JNU on 2nd October and reached Jantar mantar around 1 pm. They were welcomed by over 600 workers from across the three states and also leaders of central trade unions. The workers have decided to take their campaign nationally with major demonstrations across metropolitan cities on 5th October. “Our struggle will continue until our just demands are met, our comrades will fast until the false cases are withdrawn because our demands are righteous” said a worker who was part of the rally.
Even as the struggle is set to expand beyond Rajasthan and Delhi, the condition of the fasting workers has been deteriorating. While one worker had fainted a week ago and had to be hospitalized for a day, Naresh Mehta, president of their union, fainted yesterday on the 14th day of fast and was taken to hospital. Both have continued their hunger strike. The workers are keeping a close watch on their health status.
Tamilnadu Workers lend Solidarity
The team of workers and students from Tamilnadu joined the striking Honda workers at Jantar mantar and had fruitful interaction with them. They lent their solidarity to the actions planned in support of the Honda workers. Speaking to the workers, AICCTU state executive council member and Hyundai worker Comrade Rajaguru said that the issues of Honda workers are similar to what is happening not only in all automobile factories but in all factories in India. He said that while permanent workers are denied unionization, the contract workers and trainees/apprentices faced much more exploitative conditions in these factories. Opining that the capitalists are able to ensure their vested interest using associations, the working class needs to be united, he called for a federation atleast among unions in automobile industries to pursue common agenda.
Comrade Bharathi, the legal advocate for Pricol workers, highlighted the similarities on the repression on Pricol workers, Maruti workers and Honda workers. He said that for Modi Government, development and nationhood is limited to capitalists such as Adanis and Ambanis and called the working class, students and women’s movement to build a cconcerted struggle. He called for legal amendment that would ensure mandatory recognition of unions, without which right to unionization will always be denied to workers.
RYA activists Comrade Dhanapal, Comrade Rajashankar, Comrade Kannan, Comrade Arumuga Vadivel, Comrade Senthil and AISA activists Comrade Seetha, Comrade Divya, Comrade Vettri and other activists extended their solidarity to the Honda struggle in Delhi.
DTUC, affiliated to Mazdoor Adhikar Sangarsh Abhiyan (MASA), along with NTUI affiliates and plant level unions are planning to demonstrate against Honda India at their zonal office in T Nagar, Chennai around noon on 5th October 2016 initiating the campaign for Honda products boycott in Tamilnadu.
So far there has been no response from the government despite labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya promising the workers that he will try to resolve the issues as soon as possible, in a meeting last week. Clearly the obsession with GDP growth has effectively devalued the livers of workers to utter neglect.