Before this, 147 workers were in Jail for 5 years since July 2012 labour-management conflict and management-engineered violence. Today, 13 Union body members continue to remain in Jail for almost 6 years, who have been targeted only because they have been the leadership of the struggle since 2011 against illegal contract worker system and for Trade Union rights and dignity of labour. All workers know that this manifestly unjust verdict is to ‘teach a lesson’ to us workers by those in power: which includes the Maruti Suzuki management, the Haryana and Central government, and the Police-administration. The Maruti CEO RC Bhargava has described this as a ‘class attack’, where workers are on side and the entire machinery of power on the other side.
But we have fought and continue to fight collective battles for our rights. Challenging the injustice, over 30000 workers did tool down strike last year in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera belt, and broke prohibitory orders on 23rd March to organize protests in the industrial area. We have continued to give collective solidarity and economic assistance to the jailed workers families.
As for the legal situation as stands, on one hand, the workers have approached the High Court challenging the Sessions Court order. We have also filed bail application for some workers. Other than 13 workers, 111 were acquitted of all charges (having spent 4.5 years in Jail!) and the remaining were handed various unjust sentences all of whom have are out after serving the same. On the other hand, the management has also approached the HC, contesting the Sessions Order. They had demanded the ‘Death Penalty’ on workers when the Court gave the Life Sentences.
Today it is not only Maruti Suzuki, but criminalization of workers along with their exploitation, is at its peak across the country. 2 workers of Pricol Chennai and 4 workers of Graziano Transmissions Noida also are jailed under Life Term Sentences in separate instances. Hundreds of other workers across the country face thousands of criminal cases whenever there is struggle for our basic trade union rights. This is happening along with a government who has totally failed to generate stable dignified employment. The meager jobs left suffer from terrible work conditions and contractualization – as part of the requirements of foreign and domestic capitalists - as the norm, and divide and rule is the policy, which is what we had sought to fight.
In this context, we appeal to you to organize protest demonstrations on 18th March in solidarity, and advance the campaign for the release of the 13 Maruti Suzuki workers, in whatever form possible in your areas of work. This is a long battle, and only the growing force of the movement and wider solidarity can take the struggle forward.
Provisional Working Committee, MSWU