Tensions continue to prevail at the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in Manesar, as the tool-down strike of nearly 2,500 contractual workers entered the seventh day on Monday, November 11. As a result of the strike, the plant observed no production for the fourth day. The workers’ front, namely, HMSI Employees’ Union, is leading the strike against the retrenchment of around 400 contractual workers.
The management of the nation’s second largest two-wheeler maker, in a statement, had said, “Based on demand fluctuations and production adjustment, 200 contractual members whose term had been completed are relieved from their work. Necessary recruitment will be considered on the basis of future market requirements.”
The notice was not well received by the contractual workers—who constitute more than 50% of the total workforce—who have been striking inside the facility since November 5. On Sunday, the workers were informed that, owing to the strike, the plant would remain closed till further intimation, The Hindu reported.
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The striking workers told NewsClick that the last two days were among the most difficult since the management even cut the food supplies to the workers as the only operating canteen inside the facility was also shutdown. “Police have been deployed around the facility,” said workers, adding that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get food and water to the striking workers. As the health of many deteriorated, some of the workers had to be admitted to the hospital, as per sources.
The strike should not be viewed as an isolated event. In the recent past, several workers upsurge have swept the Gurugram-Manesar auto belt, one of India’s major auto hub, as the Indian automotive industry is in the grips of one of the worst slowdown in decades. With major companies witnessing the sharpest decline in automobile sales, a major economic disruption has been triggered in every arm of the automotive industry, be it vehicle production, component manufacturing, dealerships or other ancillary industries.
The heat is, as usual, being felt the most by the workers. Many have lost their jobs while others have seen their working environment getting severely affected. The phenomenon has been common among the numerous factory units within the industry, however, the uprisings of the workers largely remained confined to their facility.
“The need of the hour is agitation of the workers at an industry level,” said Shyam of Automobile Industry Contract Workers’ Union (AICWU), “which means a larger front of the workers demanding implementation of the pro-worker policies that will regulate and bring all the companies and their units under its purview.”
The opinion was shared even by the Bellsonica Employees Union, another workers’ front active in the auto component unit. Both the unions have extended their support to the struggle of the Honda workers and have called for other fronts to join in as well.
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Two central trade unions, namely, Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have also pledged support to the striking workers.
Meanwhile, another round of talks were held on Monday between the representatives of the Honda management and the employees union. “The talks have been going on for days but no consensus can be reached yet,” said HMSI Employees’ Union President Suresh Gaur. NewsClick also tried reaching the management for their comment, however, the calls were unanswered.