Location India India

Indian trade unionists fight for liberation of 13 Maruti workers

Trade unions join forces in a rally in Calcutta for the release of the “Maruti 13” International Workers committee reports from India.

A rally was held on the 5th of June in Calcutta (in the state of West Bengal) – a working-class rally called by nineteen trade unions, practically five years to the day after the workers at Manesar Maruti Suzuki (State of Haryana) factory formed their union and engaged a strike so their collective agreement could benefit the 80% workers who were excluded from it. During that strike, a member of the management staff accidentally died. This was used as a pretext for the firing of 2,500 workers and the imprisoning of hundreds of them for nearly four years.

After thirteen workers (twelve of them being union office-holders) were given life sentences last March 18th, the Calcutta rally was a historic event because nineteen trade unions, many of which had never worked together on any issue, joined forces on the Maruti cause. Among them the New Trade Union Initiative, the AICCTU, the IFTU, the TUCI federations, the All West Bengal Sales Representative Union and many others. The rally was introduced by comrade Khushiram of the Maruti Suzuki union, who underlined the importance of the 2012 strike that brought together and united contractholding workers and those of the “informal” sector.

Then, Milind Ranade, of the Mumbai KVSS cleaners union took the floor. He too insisted on the need for all the categories of the working class to join hands. Comrade Samanway Chatterjee, from Bengal, then raised the issue of unity between peasants and industry workers, mentioning the increased repression against the peasants’ struggle that came after the sentencing of the Maruti workers.

Murari Chatterjee, a former worker of Hindustan Motor Worker, of the TUCI federation, denounced the overexploitation oppressing the workers in tea plantations and the policies of the current government of West Bengal, which has worsened those of the former government of the PCM, one of the two communist parties. The rally was an advance towards the joining of forces of the working-class movement around the cause of the Maruti workers, unjustly condemned because they dared to set up an independent trade union.

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