On the afternoon of 18th March, lower session court in Gurgaon announced the quantum of punishment for the 31 Maruti workers . 13 Workers including 12 Union body members and Dalit worker Jiayalal were given life imprisonment. 4 workers were given 5 years of imprisonment of which close to 4 years have already been spent. Remaining workers were given less punishment then the time they have already served and with fines of 2,500 will be released today.
The life imprisonment of 13 workers shows that rule of law is at the service of ruling class. But the workers have decided to fight back. In an spontaneous expression of class solidarity, Maruti Suzuki workers from six factories declared tool down for an hour 9 Pm – 10 PM yesterday night.As the tool down strike by the workers show that even in this age of automation and increasing contractualization of labour, control of production still rests with them, Maruti Management is shaken and has put up a notice declaring 8 days of salary cut for one hour of tool down strike! This has set the stage for escalation of the issue at Maruti Suzuki plants. It should be noted that, in anticipation of the verdict and workers reaction, section 144, had been declared across the region and heavy police and para military cardon has been thrown around industrial plants.
In a meeting of all plant level unions it was also decided that a massive mobilization campaign of workers will take place in IMT Manesar on March 23rd. Day when Bhagat Singh and his comrades were martyred. In Tamilnadu, workers of HMIEU (the workers union at Hyundai, Sriperumbudur) had boycotted lunch in solidarity with Maruti Workers on 18th March. AICCTU, has given a call for protest actions in Sriperumbudur, Chennai on 23rd March. NDLF has released a press statement deploring the verdict as a challenge to working class. Maintaining that the workers are being punished for their attempt to form workers unions, it calls for workers in ‘Detroit of South India’, Chennai to raise in protest. NTUI has released a statement condemning the verdict. International Workers Committee (IWC) calling the workers ‘Prisoner of Class Struggle’ has called on workers and unions to protest the verdict on 21st March.
Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, (PUDR) that had conducted independent fact findings and engaged with the workers from 2012, has also released a statement condemning the verdict and the flawed trail, while also seeking the Harayana Government to adequately compensate the 117 acquitted workers for the loss of livelihood.
More actions and statements are awaited we will keep this article updated as information comes in.