Shatrughan Prasad, a migrant worker at SPM Autocomp factory, Manesar, died on 7th April. He got stuck in a conveyor belt. According to the workers, his death was a clear case of criminal negligence on the part of SPM management. The management wasted a lot of time in giving permission to the team that had arrived to move him to a hospital. Shiv Mohan, one of the workers who was present in the factory said, “He could have been saved if the management had not wasted time and rescued him earlier”. SPM Autocomp Systems Pvt. Ltd. is India’s largest manufacturer of Exhaust Manifolds. It supplies to companies like Maruti Suzuki, Tata motors and Hyundai. The company has 300 permanent workers and few more contract workers. There is no union representing the workers in the factory.
Workers from 40 factories including Maruti reached the factory gate to talk to the management. Instead of addressing workers concerns, the Police, on orders from the management, lathi charged the workers. Cases have been foisted on 23 union leaders of various factories under sections 147, 148, 323, 427, 452, 506 120 B of IPC. These includes charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, causing hurt-mischief causing damage, criminal conspiracy . The accused workers include union leaders from Maruti and Honda.
Police did not file any case against the company. Instead, they brokered an agreement between the Shatrughan’s family and the company management. In most cases of industrial accident, the police lay the guilt on workers negligence. The company is assumed to be innocent and often not charged for the deaths. We have reported on death in Renault Nissan, which traced a similar trajectory.
This comes a few months after the suicide of Ajay Pandey who was a contract worker of Omax factory in Dharuhera. Ajay committed suicide after being removed from the job, . However OMAX management, with the help of labour department and local administration, saved itself from any criminal inquiry after paying compensation to family members.
Class unity among workers in this region has been growing since the anti worker verdict in Maruti riots case. Maruti Suzuki and other managements show clear signs of worry. The actions by the police, in this case, is a clear testament to this. Though no charges have been filed against the management, police have filed cases against union leaders on the complaint of the plant head. In the event of any arrests, plant level unions have decided to go on strike across Manesar. Unions have also demanded that charges against all 23 workers should be dropped.
This administrative murder and lack of criminal action, proves that the life of worker, especially a migrant contract worker, has no value . Yet, in the exploitative era of ‘Make-In-India’, if the management, is even faintly scared of harm workers are sure to languish in jail for years.