Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MAJDOOR SAMACHAR TALMEL : TAKING STEPS COLLECTIVELY


(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.

3 comments:

  1. 3 days of holiday for dreaming, talking, sleeping and roaming is a great idea. But this will come when we do not defer the question of qualitative intensification of life to some future date but start snatching it around us on a hourly basis. It is by hacking and snatching into the present that the joyful passions of life expressed and shared.

    One question though about the text. The separation between sensorial experience and theoretical analysis is central to the way the text is structured. Theoretical analysis condemns the last 200 years as an inexorable journey of capital's conquer of bodies, territories and imaginations. Workers seems to just experiencing and confused by livelihood and older forms of confrontations. Why tell a story of Capital is a way that makes it all pervasive and powerful, a supernatural God, the way even ideologues of Capital themselves are not confident to talk?

    What creative-cultural resource would the "co-victim" bring to each other?

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  2. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour..............................................

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