(article by Kristyne Peter)
7000 Suzuki workers return to work after an intense and violent 14-day struggle that ends at the country’s largest car maker.
INDIA: Amid mounting international pressure, a tripartite agreement was reached today between Maruti Suzuki management, workers, and senior officials of the Haryana government ending an intense 14-day struggle that brought the Suzuki production to a crawl and revealed an unprecedented show of worker strength and solidarity.
Workers at Maruti Suzuki went on strike on October 7 after the company broke a September 30 agreement to recognize the union, honour basic labour rights, and reinstate contract workers who had gone on strike in solidarity with permanent workers during a previous struggle. Workers at Suzuki Powertrain India and Suzuki Motorcycle India immediately laid down tools in support of their colleagues at Maruti Suzuki resulting in a total of 7000 workers taking action.
The conflict and the anti-union behaviour of the local Maruti Suzuki management created an international uproar, involving unions all over the whole world, notably in Japan, where the IMF-JC and JAW were in contact with the international Suzuki management. In India, all major Indian national trade unions condemned Maruti Suzuki’s’ behaviour, calling it “vengeful”, and a Labourstart campaign delivered more than 4200 letters to local management in less than 24 hours, calling on the company to respect fundamental labour rights.
Details of the agreement, which was reached between Maruti and Suzuki managements, workers and unions of the three plants, and in the presence of government officials, includes:
- No pending disciplinary proceedings at Suzuki Motorcycles. All disciplinary proceedings pending against workers were dropped;
- At Suzuki Powertrain, disciplinary proceedings against three workers will continue;
- 1,200 contract workers will be reinstated but disciplinary proceedings against 33 workers will continue at Maruti Suzuki. Transport services will resume.
Shiv Kumar, General Secretary of the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) thanked the IMF, IMF-JC, JAW and Labourstart for their solidarity extended to the striking workers throughout their struggle. ” I want to express our sincere appreciation for making our strike known across the globe. The timely support and solidarity boosted workers’ morale, strengthened their resolve to fight and gave them the feeling that they are not alone, that workers across the world are with them. This assurance was a big motivating factor.”