Wednesday, March 10, 2010


(New Series No. 261, March 2010)

*In today's conditions how can large numbers act or work collectively? In the present, how can we make organized efforts on an increasing scale? For positive roles, what should be the form of organizations today? We have been grappling with those questions for quite some time.

Below we are presenting our preliminary conclusions in a broad way. On the basis of this understanding, we are beginning our activities in Faridabad, Okhla (Delhi), and Gurgaon. All those who want to make efforts for a straight-simple common life in the dominance of crookedness and show are invited to give suggestions and even more than that, to be one with the attempt.

*For 30 years, we have been looking at factory workers as the chief carriers of emancipation from the present. After some experiences amongst factory workers in Gwalior, Indore, and Bhopal from 1982 on, we have focused ourselves on the city of factories, Faridabad. In recent years, we have obtained some experiences in Okhla Industrial area (Delhi) and Gurgaon which has very rapidly emerged as a major center of modern industry. Together with direct experiences and reflections on them, we have made efforts to know the experiences of worker's activities in factories, mines, transport etc in different areas of India. We have made special efforts to know the experiences and ideas of workers in other parts of the world. Together with those of the present, we have tried to know-understand the experiences of past generations. On the basis of all these experiences and ideas, we are presenting this proposal about organized efforts, about organization today.

* The first necessity for collective steps is to create opportunities for coming together. We gather in factories, but there are many obstacles to easy conversations. 12 to 16 hours duty every day and then the time it takes to commute, buy vegetables-ration, collecting water, making arrangements for oil-gas, cooking food or giving time to children-wife... In such a scenario, it is very difficult for most workers to find time to go somewhere to meet others. Going regularly to neighbor's rooms to meet others creates many difficulties as well. In this situation, Majdoor Samachar Talmel is making its primary work or activity to provide spaces in localities for gatherings.

Very soon, we will try to set up baithaks (meeting places) in Faridabad, Gurgaon, and Okhla Industrial area. As per convenience, one can spend time without any hesitation in the baithak and without any hindrance, exchange experiences and ideas for half an hour-one hour- two hours. Suggestions and cooperations and help for setting up baithaks at various places are welcome. If things proceed well, the organization will contribute to setting up dere (places where in teh past in the Northwest people lived, worked, and shared together) for those desirous of living collectively.

*There will be no posts in the organization. Members will be on the basis of baithaks and they will constitute the committee. There will be efforts to increase togetherness-coordination amongst baithaks-committees. Those contributing to coordinations will have a technical role and they will not have any additional power. In committees, there will not be any hierarchy. There will of course be no formal posts. The informal importance due to experience-activeness will not be increased. Rather, efforts will be made to decrease that importance. Members will not be as unequals, but there will be no discrimination amongst members.

For rent of the baithak etc., members will contribute five rupees per month. For helping one another, members will give and energy as per their capacities. Permanent worker, casual worker, workers hired through contractor, employees, all workers can become members of the organization. Economic help on personal basis from members and those sympathetic to talmel (togetherness) is welcome. But money will not be taken from institutions.

*Majdoor Samachar Talmel will not be registered. The organization will not debate with companies-governments. It will not try to convince them. It will not enter into negotiations with authorities. Generally, the organization will not give reactions. We will take steps as per our understanding and convenience and will leave reactions in the arena of companies-governments. Members, together with their coworkers, will continuously make efforts for steps at their workplaces. Majdoor Samachar Talmel will try to take steps on the basis of area, wider areas.

*We hope that in some months such conditions will emerge where collective steps would be able to provide minor relief to members and other workers. For example, in Faridabad, Okhla, and Gurgaon when workers are fired from or quit a job, wages of 5-10-15 days of performed work are generally not given. On the basis of baithak, 10 people will go with the affected person and try to obtain immediate relief. There will be discussion in some detail about this at baithak places.

*There should not be the necessity to discuss courts, under the government of India. Even if a judge wants, she-he cannot do anything pro-labor because the process is crooked, long, drawn-out and there is space for appeal after appeal. Yes, the organization will try to provide relief against acts of companies, such as putting illegal pressure on workers by taking them to police stations and threatening them. We hope that in some months, Majdoor Samachar Talmel will be able to send lawyers for workers held in police stations in such conditions.

*Together with efforts by members to take steps as per their convenience and their workplaces and by the organization on area basis, ordinary workers will be encouraged to perform what they can easily do. For example, in cases of statutory minimum wages not being paid, provisions of Employee State Insurance, Provident Fund, forced overtime and payment at single rate instead of double rate, insults-beatings, delay in wages etc. providing help to make complaints to the concerned Department and Authority. At the baithak, addresses and suggestions for writing letters will be easily available.

*Majdoor Samachar Talmel will be based on baithaks in localities and will be open to coordinations with steps taken by workers collectively in other places in India, in other regions of the world. The organization will make special efforts to coordinate with workers intiatives especially and people's initiatives generally throughout the world. Those decisions of contributing to such coordinations will be given memberships even without being connected to a baithak.
Think about becoming a member, helping choose a place for baithak in a locality, exchange experiences and ideas in a congenial atmosphere. Paths will emerge- will go forward.

*It has been 200 years since production for the market, exmploying wage labour became significant for the world. Many changes have taken place in these 200 years:

-Factory mode which was established in production in tiny England has spread throughout the world via Europe and North America. Today groupings of factories are spread out at every place throughout the world. Becoming dominant in production, factory mode has spread out in trade-transport-education-medicine-entertainment. Universities-research institutions have become factories for producing knowledge.

-Initially, there was some owner of a factory. With the cost of establishing, running, mounting a factory, it became increasingly difficult for any one person to establish a factory. 8-10 people together started establishing factories. They became 5-10-15% partners. Joint stock companies emerged. Increasing size and cost very soon did not leave it possible for 10-12 people to jointly establish a factory. Companies with thousands of shareholders emerged who established factories.

But soon by collecting wealth of thousands of shareholders, it did not remain possible to establish production unit. The cost had been greatly increased by the size of the factory, land, buildings, machines, raw materials, fuel, storage of goods or warehousing of goods, buying-selling at distant places wages for thousands of workers etc. For establishing-running companies, loans became the main source of wealth-money. This became a major reason for the entrance of governments in production arena.

-Together with production units, significant companies in trade, transport etc. are established, run with wealth. 80-85% of which is obtained of or through loans and 15-20% through shares. Those who are Chairmen-Managing Director personally have 5-7%of shares of the money that is invested in the company. Those people who are Chairmen-Managing Director have invested 10th-100th part of 10% of the money invested in companies but their behavior is still like that of owners. Owners who are continuously engaged in theft from "their own" companies. The reality that there are no owners of companies becomes visible to workers when the company becomes shaky and goes bankrupt. To get some part of their dues, workers are told to wait for the court's decision regarding the companies' morgage properties.

The increasing scale of production refused to call an halt even when factories started having tens of thousands of workers. Oil, electricity-run machines taking the place of coal steam-based machines increased the speed of work, increased production, and reduced the number of required workers. Automation and especially the use of electronics rapidly accelerated this proceess. Still, the scale of production today presents the necessity of factories with hundreds of thousands of workers. In China, electronic-gadget producing factory is running with an hundred thousand workers at this time. But changes taking place constantly in the production arena are taking place even more rapidly these days. Even otherwise, it is very difficult to keep under control large numbers of workers at one place. Over that, there is the repeatedly emerging need for sudden massive changes in the whole production process. In such a scenario, it becomes increasingly explosive to deal with workers.

-The process of dividing into many factories, the massive factories with large numbers of workers has taken place throughout the world. See the textile industry in India. In these 25 to 30 years, there has been massive increase in production of cloth, but large composite mills with spinning-weaving-processing-dyeing-printing have vanished. No signs are left of well-known textile mills of Mumbai, Indore, Gwalior, Kanpur, Faridabad. There are millions of power looms spread out in Mumbai, Surat etc. in chunks of 10-15-20 power looms. To bring a little more to the fore the special aspect of the present, let's take the auto industry. Today for car production, a very large factory which is spread out over 7,000 500 sq. kilometer area and requiring hundreds of thousands of workers is needed. Managing the costs and especially control over workers is impossible...

Via the path of foundry, moulding machinery, assembly at different places, the creation of auto hub. The division of one factory into thousands of factories. Today Maruti-Suzuki cars are assembled in two factories in Gurgaon. But their part is made in thousands of factories situated in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Okhla, Noida. Many factories-workshops producing over two parts. The directors of thousands of factories working for the main factory, especially the directors of small factories with their personal intervention in production contribute to maintaining the illusion of 'owner'. But getting parts made at thousands of places could not save the world's biggest vehicle manufacturer General Motors from bankruptcy. Companies are paperboats in the ocean of the market.

-On the one hand, massive increase in production and major cut in workers employed through every new machine automation, electronics. On the other hand, tens of millions of pauperized artisans and peasants are being forced into the ranks of wage workers. During the period of steam and coal in tiny England and then Europe, peasants and artisans were destroyed on such a big scale only some of them could become workers in factories. Some became shop-keepers and large number of people were driven out to far-flung America, Australia. In these 100 years, especially in these 50 years there has been a rapid increase in the number of wage workers in India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia. But displacement from Europe had already "filled" America and Australia. Today for tens of millions of pauperized peasants-artisans in Asia, Africa, South America, there are 'no vacant' spaces anywhere to go to. Suicides by hundreds of thousands, getting involved in killing and getting killed. Thousands becoming suicide bombers. If we talk only of India, then here for one job, there are an hundred persons in line.

-When the factory became property of the company, it made stopping production no longer such an effective weapon for workers. During 1980-1990, at various places this bitter truth became visible.

On the basis of experiences, places where workers kept away from strike despite instigations there for major attacks, companies resorted to lock-outs. And then large-scale retrenchment of permanent workers during 1990-2000 did not leave it possible to turn one's face away from this reality. This process made factory-based union follow. So, the matter is not of phony or real representatives. The issue is not of less or more militant struggles. The matter is not 'if we had held on a little bit longer.' When in production work in factories, most of the workers are permanent, even then the importance of struggles confined to a factory had in reality greatly shrunken. Here with 80 to 85% of workers in production work being temporary has rendered the struggles of the 1990-2000 period ancient. The representative system that gives the reigns of 100 in the hands of 5 is ineffective today. To struggle under leader's directions is fatal. Activeness of 95% instead of 5% and steps on the basis of area seem necessary.

-Today production of a thing takes place in thousands of factories situated in thousands of square kilomoters. Across oceans, parts travelling thousands of miles is also signficant. And, the distribution of production has acquired world-wide character. Togetherness-coordination amongst workers of the world is today more indispensable than ever before.

-Nothing will come of blaming a certain person, certain institution. We have to deal with a social relation, social process. Not to 'otherize' anyone, taking each one as co-victim could place a significant role in opening up paths. The social process has engendered a massive apparatus for oppression-exploitation. Confrontations, do-or-die methods is to walk in laid-out traps.

Instead of government strike in an area, consideration of three days continuous holiday-like steps is necessary. In today's conditions, what all can be done to change or transform today's condition? Extensive discussion, conversations about this are necessary.

-Today the chief course of pain-misery is the wages system. The worst thing is wage work. Subordination carries endless pain. Still, most of the efforts to overcome pain get bogged down in the whirlpool of trying to maintain this wages system. The present system based on wages system has today become so hollow that it is desperately trying to stop the making of wage workers. On the other hand, people in very large numbers see becoming wage worker as a relief.

Instead of seeing wage work as that which is imposed by difficult circumstances, it widely considered desirable. Unemployment has become a very big problem. Symptoms of unemployment are increasing very greatly in the near future. Wage workers, peasants, artisans, small shopkeepers, and unemployed are of course in dire straits. But the pain of the Management class that keeps control over the poor is not much less. To be a boss is in reality to be a decorated walking corpse. Therefore, putting the wages system in question is necessary for organizations, organized activity. It behooves us to make efforts for new communities. Efforts to make wage-work bearable to some extent became tools to maintain the present system. And struggles for power are nothing more than the claims for better handling of the wages system.
Giving practical shape to this proposal will depend on the number and activeness of people willing to become one with the proposal. We'll keep informing about the establishment of meeting places (baithaks). Until then, please come to Majdoor Library for interactions.

Monday, March 8, 2010


(New Series No. 259, January 2010)

A 50 to 55 years old worker: The time that I get up in the morning keeps changing. Now that I have started working as a painter and whitewasher again, I get up at 7 o'clock in the morning...

We were eight brothers and sisters. There was little family land, so my father started working as a mason. After having worked for Kanpur for some time, my eldest brother in addition to the work in the fields, also started work as a mason. I did not like school too much, because you had to endure the teacher’s punishment. I can still remember the beating of the teacher's stick on my back in the 5th grade. So, I stopped going to school then and grazed cows instead.

My father and eldest brother worked in masonry. My two older brothers started working in Faridabad while my younger brother went to school. My sisters were already married at that time. I worked on the field. I ploughed the field with the bullock. I irrigated it with the Persian wooden wheel and bamboo baskets. I made sugar melasse. My uncle would do some of our work and we would do some of his. I would do wage work, but back then you were not paid in cash, but in grain: two to three kilos barley, peas, rice. I had a passion for singing and drama, but my father did not like this...

I was seven years old when I was married. The wedding procession went on foot. My uncle put me on his shoulders and took me along. Eleven years later, my wife was brought to our house. We had a son. I never had money on me. I would have to ask my mother for money. My wife would say one thing or the other...

Constant bickering at home. My wife and my sister-in-law went on and on finding fault with one another. My sister in law ridiculed me - you don't work, you just wander about. In anger, one thing is said and then another- it gets messy. I remained mired down in anger. I refused to work....

I went to Kanpur to my uncle. They hired me at Victoria Mill to remove the ash from the boilers. After two days, I left the job. After wandering around in Kanpur, I returned to the village. I borrowed 50 Rs and after informing my relatives, I left for Ludhiana. I started working in a work-shop manufacturing parts for bicycles. The wage was 130 Rs a month. At that time one kilo of flour was 60 to 70 Paisa and a quarter litre milk was 50 Paisa. I shared a room with another guy, the rent was 20 Rs. We cooked on a sawdust fire. Our expenses for food and so on was 30 to 40 Rs. I then worked in a workshop for engine parts and finally in a factory producing nuts and bolts. There the wage was 180 Rs...I was able to save 100 Rs a month. The telegram with the news about my mother's death reached me after an one week delay…

Because of too much quarreling, I left the factory job and I rejoined at the work-shop when news arrived that my brother had died in an accident in Faridabad… I did not understand English and the management at the workshop did not tell me what had happened, they just stuffed me into a car...

I refused to live in the family home. My older brother called me to Faridabad. There I started working as a helper at the furnaces of Orient Steel factory and at the same time ran the paan (betel nut) shop of my brother's friend. The factory ran on three shifts and after the factory work, I worked four to six hours in the shop. On Sundays I worked sixteen hours in the shop. There was always money in my pockets. One brother’s factory was closed down and in the other brother’s factory, problems were occurring. Because of the shop, I did not stay back to work overtime, making the excuse that my health was bad. The supervisor who had hired me left the job. Two months later, I was forced out of the job.

At the entry gate of Mujesar, I got a paan shop there. I began to sit there every day for 16 hours a day. Claiming that the area was his, a fellow from the village had my shop removed…

I went back to the village for a while, then returned to Faridabad, and got a paan hut in front of Nikkitasha factory in Sector 6. When things became troublesome inside the Escorts plant, the management had decided to open Nikkitasha factory. There was a large population of workers and three buses brought staff from Delhi. Because of this, I used to sell a lot of paan and cigarettes. Then suddenly after about two and a half years, the workers and staff went back to the Escorts plant. My sales dropped to less than a quarter...I moved the hut to Sector 2 in front of Orient Bank, then to Bata Chowk. Tired of it all, I sold the nicely done up hut. I brought my wife and children to live with me in Faridabad…

For two months, I walked around and sold bracelets and stuff which I got on commission from my brother. The profit was 50 per cent per item and you could have a good laugh with the ladies. But small items would also tend to get lost…

I came to the decision to sell vegetables and borrowed 500 Rs from my brother. I bought vegetables and fruits on the market and pushed the trolley through the alleys of the area. You encounter all kinds of people along the way. Together with the vegetable sales I started working on piece-rate in a work-shop doing hand moulding. Around Diwali I also started whitewashing jobs through a contractor. I bought a shack in the slum, sold it, bought another one. The hand moulding requires strength and is rather hot. I was sick of selling vegetables.

I started selling scrap. I walked through the alleys shouting. In order to collect iron, bottles, plastic, copper, alloy I would have to start working at 4 o'clock in the morning. In the morning, the guards sell cheap stuff secretly on the side. I would have to run around till 2 p.m. When the Haryana government banned alcohol drinking, there were less bottles around, then my income went down a lot...

For three months, I worked as a guard at a factory gate in Sector 59. Twelve hours a day, thirty days a month… Because of troubles of sleeping at night, I left the job.

Ten years ago I started whitewashing and painting buildings. I work myself and I also sometimes take two to four workers to work with me. Ten years ago everyone used lime. Today 90 to 100 per cent want their walls painted. To work with lime is not so harmful. Plastic paint is harmful for lungs and eyes. When you scrape the old paint of the wall, chemical dust enters your lungs. The skin on my hands got bad due to the chemicals, The wall paint comes in powder-form and irritates your skin. In the bright sunlight. some of the paints reflect so much that the painter can go blind...

I got myself a ladder on rent and started whitewashing in 2002. The ladder broke - I fell from 18 ft hight. My ankle bones broke in a bad way, I was not able to walk for a year. I lived on savings and the income of one of my boys who started work as an electrician… Then I took another contract for painting and whitewashing... It is because of all the compulsions upon a person that makes a person leave one thing, pick up something else, then make that person wander or return to that same thing…

I am tired of whitewashing. Climbing up, plastering, painting. It is hard, dirty-dusty work and I don't have the capacity to do it any more...

In 2008, I had started selling cigarettes and peanuts on commission. In March 2009, I started selling juice. But in September 2009, I had to return to whitewashing work… The peanuts did not take off and there is heavy work attached to them - standing around from 8 a.m. till 11 p.m. waiting for customers.

I get angry when my wife asks what I have been doing all day. It’s been 30 years that I have left the village. I left with the desire to earn and build a proper house. What I have now is a slum hut. I have lost my courage... I hope my son will take care of us, that he won’t just push us around.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


(New Series No. 186, December 2003)

18-22 years age: Has to earn money. Has come to the city just to earn money. Sitting idle, he thinks, who will feed me, take care of my expenses. 1000,1200,1500 rupees per month pay. Each day 12-16 hours duty. Young, he is slightly flashy in appearance, a bit bouncy in his walk.

28-30 years age:
Preoccupied with family expenses. Has to raise kids. Chooses duty over holiday, though it is not what he desires. Will do overtime shifts at single rate. For additional money, he will work 12 to 16 hours shifts or after 8 hours duty finds some other work on the side. The neglect of his body-clothes-relations is increasing.

Above 40: There are no jobs for someone his age. Reluctantly, he is given work- 1,200rupees a month with the condition that he will work 12 hours everyday, 30 days of the month. He is visibly helpless...At every step, people are generating work for money- a shop in the house, shop on a handcart, shop on a cycle, shop on the side of the road...

With this state of things, the one upmanship vis-a-vis neighbors, co-workers, relatives, acquaintances, friends is like the ceaseless and gnawing itching of leprosy.

When will we live? Where is the time to live? And here many of us consider ourselves-humans beings- as the highest creation on earth...
"There is no time to die" people say, but if time is needed to live then conversations about the present social system and creating a new society have to take place.

Probably not for all, but for many living beings, food, water, and shelter, can be considered indispensable necessities. These necessities in themselves give us pleasure and the activities for acquiring them are also pleasurable. But for quite some time amongst human beings, acquiring food, water, and shelter has increasingly become a compulsion, a painful activity. In the present times especially, the majority of people's lives is withering away just in obtaining one's daily bread.

Besides maintaining life and continuing the existence of a species, various kinds of relations amongst a generation and across generations, gives life joy and meaning. Amongst many species, relations are generally harmonious and there is on attachment and affection towards life. But in these 5 to 7 thousand years among humans, there is an increasing tendency to see life as a curse. To escape from the cycle of life is considered emancipation and transcendence! Today, killing time, engaging in time-pass has become extensive.

Among many types of species, one generation exchanges knowledge-skill amongst itself and passes it onto the next generation. Amongst such species, exchanges between children and the aged are generally playful; learning and teaching one another gives both pleasure to both. But with the break-up of community and the advent of hierarchy/rich-poor divisions, relations amongst human beings have begun to be tortuous. To fulfill the needs of the market, an extensive noose and net of schools has emerged to teach and train young ones. This has meant not only the construction of torture houses for children on a wide scale but the increasing break-down of intergenerational relations making the elderly superfluous, transforming the aged into those waiting for death. Old-age homes and 'children are a nuisance' are two sides of the same coin...

Besides human beings, many species accumulate in material form, i.e. add, create, collect. The creation of hives and collection of honey by bees, the stocking of nuts and food by squirrels, the construction of nests by sparrows...Various types of accumulation for making life richer, better, more secure. But since the break-up of community-type societies and the emergence of hierarchic/rich v. poor social systems, accumulation and increasing accumulation is worsening the life of more and more human beings, rendering it more painful and more insecure.
Steps that increase relations with neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives, acquaintances loosen the noose of work-money. These steps are steps on the path of life, a fruitful life.

Generation after generation, accumulation is intensifying on both macro and micro scales. And both the macro and the micro themselves are intensifying in form. The macro meaning bigger buildings and structures. The micro meaning greater technology, telescopes, minutes research to control populations. The accumulation has become so fearsome and demonic that persons being and not being are rendered almost the same. Increasing loneliness is biting at and absorbing every person. Even the non-living- the air, the water, the earth - has been deformed to such an extent that all living beings, all species are at stake.

The thing is not to blame oneself or this-that-and-the-other. Rather, it is necessary to think and meditate on the bad situation that work-money, work-money has made and is making. It seems necessary to scratch deeply underneath the surface of that which is being eulogized as progress and development by the 'best' among our species - the scholars, researchers, experts, and 'wisemen' and to uncover the vulgarity and absurdity of it's finesse propagation by artist and court jesters. Is there any other alternative to these paths and methods that are being disseminated through our schools, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and films...?

"If there's not enough for me, how can there be spare for you?!" There is an objective basis or criterion to believe that our relations are shrinking in the present system as seen through our time, means, and the energy of our bodies and souls. It is either work-work-work-more-work-more or sit idle, idle, idle...Both are narrow, vicious cycles. Money-money-the obsession-with-money certainly carries inside it many wounds, certainly shows how helpless we feel in the present state. It seems the script of helplessness is written on the wall, but are we really helpless?

See the sparrow... What is life, we must ask? What is a fruitful life?

We human beings have created these conditions. The outcomes of the tussles that have taken place across many generations are in front of us. But the struggles have not stopped. The churning continues. Apart from the old forms, new beginnings, new methods, new paths and efforts to bury the present social system and create a new society are also continuing, are also increasing. It seems necessary to bring in new scales of measurement to recognize and understand the effect or importance of the steps persons are taking both separately and collectively. Then in the place of 'nothing is happening', all that is taking place will become visible to us...
To deepen, increase, widen relations amongst human beings is the path to demolish the existing social system and create a new society on earth.