Product Boycott campaign picks up steam as the Struggle enters the Second Month
The remarkable and heroic struggle of Honda workers entered a new phase on the 20th day of their hunger strike. Due to failing health of workers (though 2 of the 5 workers had to be hospitalised in the first week of October, they chose to return to the hunger fast) and seeing absolutely no response to their demands from the Honda management or the blatantly pro-corporate central government, they decided to change the indefinite hunger strike into a relay hunger strike which has since continued. Inspite of the exhaustion due to the effort put in over last 20 days, the workers are determined to carry the campaign forward.
There will also be a renewed campaigning in the entire DMIC region (Delhi Mumbai Industrial corridor) which calls for the boycott of Honda 2 wheelers that are produced in the Tapukera factory (Honda Activa and Honda Shine). It does appear that the previous boycott call, which drew support from workers nationwide has drawn attention of the Honda management as they have filed defamation cases against striking workers for brand damage and product defamation.
So far there has been no official complaint regarding the ongoing hunger strike which is proceedingin Jantar Mantar. Even the 20 days of hunger fast has not had any visible effect on the management or the government. It thus appears that life and health of workers and their grievances have no relevance and they see democratic protests done inside a confined space like Jantar Mantar as causing no obstacles to their production or sale. Product boycott, however is a tool which evokes a reaction from the management and it is something Honda workers are determined to use.
The 5 workers who fasted for 20 days have constantly supported the relay hunger strike in which different 4-5 workers are participating every day. There has been solidarity support pouring in from various quarters. Last week the postal service workers from Delhi attended the strike and gave their solidarity support as well as commitment to boycott of Honda 2 wheelers during the festive period. Workers organizations, namely Worker Solidarity Center, Inquilab Mazdoor Kendra and Bigul have been constantly involved with the struggle and are campaigning on behalf of workers as well as helping them to continue the campaign in a variety of ways.
Different organizations, including most of MASA (Mazdoor Andolan Sangarsh Abhiyan) constituents from Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh have also visited the workers at Jantar Mantar in solidarity.
In this new phase of the struggle various initiatives are being planned by the workers.
1. A call for one day hunger strike and protest at respective DC office in different districts of Haryana and Rajasthan by workers and their family members on 20 Oct
4. A cultural protest day on 23 Oct
Various central trade unions have engaged with the striking workers over past few weeks and the Delhi Labour minister, Mr. Gopal Rai wrote a solidarity letter to the central government on the 20th day of the strike.
Honda workers have realised that this struggle is going to be a protracted one and going forward an essential component of the struggle will be involvement of the Honda workers who are working inside the factory now. In light of this, a justice rally was organized on October 16th in Jantar Mantar which involved the existing workers as well. There was a solidarity rally in Patna today organized by a number of unions . Honda workers also did pamphleteering on Delhi gate regarding Boycott of Shine and Activa. Com. Naresh gave an impromptu speech explaining the struggle and reasons behind it to the public. After seeing a good response from the crowd, they have decided to continue to campaign there in the coming days.