ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Desperate for Justice

One year on, the Maruti workers continue to be punished for demanding their rights.

Last year the struggle of the workers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant had caught the attention of the country. It was one of those uncommon events where a working class struggle for basic rights received national media coverage and widespread sympathy. That however had not enabled them to achieve their basic demands of recognition for their independent trade union, regularisation for contract workers, equal pay and basic humane working conditions. However, even the few partial gains the workers had managed seemed to evaporate with the violence which erupted on 18 July 2012 in which the company’s human resources manager, Awanish Dev, got caught in a fire and died.

That violence helped Maruti Suzuki crush the workers’ struggle and sack about 500 “permanent” and over 2,000 contractual workers. All the 10 office-bearers of the independent Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) and 137 other workers were arrested and put in jail. They are still languishing in jail, on false criminal charges, including murder, having repeatedly been denied bail. Workers whose wives have delivered babies have been denied even a brief parole to visit their families. Bail has been denied even upon bereavement of workers to attend funerals.

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