On 19th September 2016, 5 terminated workers from Honda-Tapukara had started their hunger strike at Jantar Mantar , New Delhi to protest against the injustice done to all the workers of Honda 2 wheeler union. This strike had lasted a remarkable 20 days. Due to deteriorating conditions of the workers and at the insistence of their comrades and Delhi Minister of labour, the terminated workers of Honda turned this strike into a relay hunger strike from October 8th which was finally concluded on 10th November, 2016.
A support activist of the Honda Kamgar Sangarsh Samiti, said that the initial objective of the hunger fast was to turn the attention of the workers from the area , media and general public towards the continued injustice to the terminated and suspended workers of Honda. They had made a clear set of demands to state government to withdraw the false charges against the workers and for Honda management to re employ the workers. This objective (of giving visibility to their struggle which had actually started in February this year) was achieved through the efforts of the committed workers.
Discussing reasons for the withdrawal of the strike from Jantar Mantar, the activist said that the protesting workers had received significant solidarity from students, workers and unions from across the country. They had also turned the attention of political parties towards the issue. The Boycott Honda Campaign had received wide ranging support. But now that Deepavali was behind them, it was difficult to pressure the management any further with these tactics. The struggle would be protracted and it has to move closer to the factory rather than remain in New Delhi. With this in mind, the Honda workers’ leadership have begun to forge alliances with emerging workers organizations in the region, including in Daikin and Shriram Pistons.
Speaking about the Boycott campaign, the spokesperson said that the target of the campaign was the Deepavali sale, and they did push the management on the back foot, even forcing them to file restraining charges against the workers. Since Deepavali the sales has been muted and presently has taken further dip since the ‘Demonetization’ of currency. This has forced Honda to declare off days and reduce production at its plants. The campaign will be re initiated as things become clear in the coming months.
Speaking about the developments at the labour department, the activist said “the termination of 102 permanent workers was against the Law as an industrial dispute case was pending before the ACL, Alwar. In that situation, the management had to take the approval of the ACL to give legal backing to the termination. “This case had come up before the ACL and we had represented the workers. After the final hearing, the committee had given oral orders stating that the termination was not according to law and the order was generally in favour of the workers. But when the certified copy of the order was received after delays, on November 21st, the order was in favour of the management, consenting to the termination. Now we are forced to raise the issue in the labour court as we are sure there is no ground to terminate the workers.” Apart from the 102, another 20 permanent workers are under suspension and over 3000 contract workers have been debarred from working at Honda.”
Speaking about the way forward, he said that they are looking at the legal struggle ahead. They will challenge the ACL order on the grounds of natural justice as there was no enquiry. They are also going to increase interaction with the present workers of Honda and impress upon them to join the struggle to unionize. Finally they are planning to set up a regional level union covering various industries in Neemrana, Tapukara and Bhiwadi falling in Alwar district of Rajasthan. This would allow for more sustained and effective struggles against large capital in this region. They are planning a convention in this direction while extending solidarity to on going struggles in Daikin and other factories.