In 2016, two plants of Mahindra in Uttarakhand witnessed a collective united struggle which had stretched for over 45 days. This included three days of tool down strikes. The collective resistance was to demand reinstatement of two dismissed workers, Hemchand and Shatrughna who were suspended following concerted demands made by the workers for annual wage rise.. The workers succeeded and the two workers were reinstated.
However none of the demands of the workers were met and workers of both the Mahindra plant (under the banner of Mahindra CIE workers organization) re-started their struggle in 2017. This struggle stretched over four months from 18th May to 26th August and took a variety of forms all of which involved workers protesting on the shop floor.
In the first phase of this new struggle, workers started working without meals as a mode of protest. As this had no effect on the management, workers started a two-hour daily tool down from 18th July which expanded to three hour long tool down from 20th July. On 28th July senior superintendent of police became involved and the tool down was called off. However, workers continued with their work without meal protest.
On 3rd August, additional district magistrate assured the workers that their demands will be met and requested them to end their 80-day long “work without meal” strike. Workers agreed and called off the strike. However as the management was not ready to listen to their demands, they started yet another tool down on 18th August. On 21st august, management decided to do what it does best. After closing the factory gates of one of the plants so that workers were trapped inside, police lathi charged the workers of the other plant in which many workers got injured . In the evening police arrested workers of both the plants and detained them for 2 hours in the night.
On the evening of 26th August, resolve of the workers paid off and management backed down. In the presence of additional district magistrate following demands were agreed to.
1. Salary increase of Rs.5000 for 3 years which includes 60% increase in first year and 20% increase in second and third years.
2. The agreement will remain effective from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2019.
3. The workers will put up their next set of demands in November 2019 and management will address the demand letter by December 15, 2019
4. Arrears of the period of January 2017- July 2017 will be paid with the salary of January 2018.
5. There will be an internal enquiry on the issue of 10 workers who were suspended during this phase of the struggle. The enquiry will be completed within 45 days of the date of the agreement.
The Mahindra workers churning and their struggle for justice is part of the larger workers struggle in the automobile belt from DMIC (Delhi Mumbai Industrial corridor) to the Uttarakhand . In 2016, at the time when Mahindra workers were fighting for their rights, DMIC saw simultaneous struggles and unrests in Pricol Delta and Minda factories. As atomized plant level struggles are easily defeated by the neo-liberal state, in which the particularities of the belt with multiple production units for each factory and a display of unity among the capitalists play an important role, it is only the collective struggles of the workers across the belt which will mount an effective resistance against the state-capital nexus.