Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

THE COMING INSURRECTION

A text by The Invisible Committee (2009)

"How does a situation of generalized rioting become an insurrectionary situation? What to do once the streets have been taken, once the police have been soundly defeated there? Do the parliaments still deserve to be attacked? What is the practical meaning of deposing power locally? How do we decide? How do we subsist?

How do we find each other?"

Read it here

Sunday, October 9, 2011

WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT

"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."


http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/page/2

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

FROM HONDA TO MARUTI SUZUKI: A WIDE ANGLE VIEW OF CORPORATE STRATEGIES

(New Series No. 277, July 2011)


WHAT THE MARUTI BALANCE SHEET SHOWS

The 300-acre Maruti Suzuki factory in Gurgaon houses three plants and produces 7 lakh cars a year. The engine plant alone has a manufacturing capacity of 7.5 lakh engines a year.

The 600-acre Maruti-Suzuki plant in Manesar started production in February 2007. This factory houses Maruti's newest assembly plant with a capacity of 3 lakh cars a year.

Another assembly plant in this factory will begin production in March 2012 and will have a capacity of 2.5 lakh cars a year. The Suzuki Powertrain Diesel Engine factory adjoins Maruti's Manesar factory. This is a joint venture of Suzuki Motors (70%) and Maruti-Suzuki (30%) and has a capacity of 3 lakh engines a year.

12.7 lakh Maruti-Suzuki cars were produced in 2010-11 - 2.7 lakh units more than the installed capacity of its plants - and representing almost half of all cars produced in India.

Around 1.4 lakh Maruti-Suzuki cars were exported to 120 countries in 2010-11.Maruti earned slightly more than Rs.40,419 crores from sale of its cars during 2010-11.

Maruti-Suzuki contributed a total of Rs.4290.81 crores to the national exchequer by way of excise duties, and paid Rs.820.11 crores in taxes to the Haryana Government in 2010-11.
The company declared a total share capital of Rs.144.46 crores. The value of a Rs.5/- share went up to Rs.79.22 during 2010-11.

After deducting payments to employees (Rs.703.62 crores), bank interest payments (Rs.24.41 crores), costs of raw materials and plant maintenance (Rs.27,576.13 crores) and other expenses, the company declared a net profit of Rs.2288.64 crores.

WHAT THE BALANCE SHEET DOESN'T SHOW


Maruti-Suzuki had 8,500 employees as of March 31, 2011. Only 3,200 of the total of 8,500 employees are factory workers – 2,300 at the Gurgaon factory and 950 at the Manesar factory.
Apart from these 3,200 regular workers, every other worker in the Maruti factories is a contract worker, hired through a labour contractor.

Maruti first started hiring contract workers in 1977. In 2001, after a strike at the Gurgaon factory which was probably engineered by the management and was ruthlessly crushed, 1250 regular workers were laid off. Another 1250 workers were laid off in 2003. As of 2007, the Gurgaon factory had 1,800 regular workers and 4000 contract workers. The number of contract workers at the present date is not known.

According to figures from the ILO, regular workers comprise only 15% of the Maruti-Suzuki factory workforce – 85% are contract workers. This is a much lower proportion of regular workers than in companies such as Nokia (50% regular workers) and Ford (25% regular workers).

Regular workers in the Maruti-Suzuki factory are paid an average monthly basic salary of Rs.5,300/- and an “attendance allowance” of Rs.8,900/-. An amount of Rs.2,500/- is deducted from the salary for every day of non-attendance other than earned leave.

Contract workers hired through a labour contractor are paid an average monthly wage of Rs.7,200/- (for those with an ITI diploma) and Rs.6,200/- (for those who do not have an ITI diploma). There is no provision for leave, and an amount of Rs.2,000/- per day is deducted for absence from work.

THE ARITHMETIC OF PROFIT


Assuming that none of the workers took leave, the total amount paid out by Maruti-Suzuki to their regular factory employees during 2010-11 is Rs.54.52 crores. Assuming that the number of contract workers today is 8,000 (twice that in 2007) and calculating at the higher rate (Rs.7,200/- per month) the total amount paid to the contract workers in 2010-11 is Rs.69.12 crores. The total amount paid to factory workers (Rs.123.64 crores) represents 5.4% of the profits of Rs.2,288.64 crore made by Maruti-Suzuki in the same period.

THE MARUTI FORMULA- "LEAN MANUFACTURING"


One year ago, it took a herculean effort for the Manesar plant, working two shifts on the main (automated) production line, to make 1,100 cars a day. Today, the plant rolls out 1,200 cars every day from the main line and another 150 from the manual line. How has the pace of production has been stepped up?

Maruti Production System or MPS draws learnings from its parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation's concepts on `lean manufacturing' under Suzuki Production System (SPS).

Setting trends in new products and achieving customer delight starts with Manufacturing Excellence and Maruti's manufacturing excellence hinges around four important pillars-Cost, Quality, Safety and Productivity.

Every employee working on the line is 'cost sensitive' and functions in capacity of a Cost Manager. He is a key contributor in suggesting how to keep costs of production under control.

A product of poor quality requires repeated inspections, entails wastage in terms of repairs and replacements. "Do it right first time," is the principle followed to avoid wastage. To ensure quality, robots were devices and deployed, especially where they reduced worker fatigue and were critical in delivering consistent quality. With consistent improvements in the plant the company was able to manufacture over 600,000 vehicles in 2006-07 with an installed capacity of just 350,000 vehicles per year.

"Home or work place; Safety takes First Place". This has been the motto of the company where safety is concerned. Maruti attaches great significance to safety of its people and strongly advocates that safety at work place adds to quality of the products and improves productivity of the plant significantly.

In the Japanese manufacturing system, the central role is accorded, not so much to Quality, Productivity or Cost, but to Safety. When process flow, lay-out and systems are designed for maximum safety, they automatically contribute to better quality and productivity.
- from http://www.marutisuzuki.com/lean-manufacturing.aspx

The deepening economic crisis is justification enough for companies like Maruti to push even harder to cut costs and increase production. Shorn of jargon, Maruti's much-lauded lean manufacturing system is the tried-and-tested traditional system of squeezing the workers through increasing workloads, cutting wages and benefits, undercutting investments in safety and increased casualisation of the workforce.

Here's what lean manufacturing looks like on the factory floor.


The paintshop at the Manesar plant is a schizophrenic combination of cutting-edge robotic technology and brute physical labour. One one side are 12 painting robots. On the other, are workers carrying 25 kilo headloads of used screens up two flights of stairs and returning with a 30 kilo load of clean screens. Each worker has to carry 70-80 screens up and down the stairs, working an extra hour without pay if the job is not done by the end of the shift. The lunch-break (30 minutes) and tea break (15 minutes) are not counted as part of the working time on the shift.

The Quality Maintenance Unit employs 95 workers hired through a labour contractor. Their job includes cleaning out the tanks that hold thinners and solvents. They are always on the C-shift – from 12.30 in the night to 8.30 the next morning. Workers on the C-shift work non-stop. There are no breaks for food or tea. The food allowance of Rs.44/- that they used to be given has now been slashed to half. By the end of the shift, they are exhausted, giddy and nauseous from the chemical fumes they inhale. Workers in the Quality Maintenance Unit put in 32 to 192 hours of overtime every month, for which they are paid only Rs.28/- per hour, well short of the legal minimum of 1.5 times the normal wage. For many of these workers, the shift can extend to 17.5 hours of non-stop work without breaks or food.

"The tea break is seven minutes long. In that time, we have to run to the canteen, line up for tea and a snack, use the toilet and get back to the assembly line – and they expect us to be back with a minute to spare.”

“The line moves so fast that there's no time even to scratch an itch...”

“The company gave us all mobiles as gifts to celebrate reaching the one crore production mark, but what's the use - we don't have the time to call anyone.”

WORKERS AT THE MANESAR PLANT, SPEAKING TO FMS


Casual workers hired through a labour contractor are paid an average monthly wage of Rs.7,200/- (for those with an ITI diploma) and Rs.6,200/- (for those who do not have an ITI diploma). Casual workers on the A and B shifts are entitled to free meals at the canteen. There is no provision for leave. Wages for the day, and an extra penalty of Rs.2,000/- are deducted for every absence from work. Any protests or arguments with the contractor are dealt with by immediate dismissal.

Regular workers are not much better off. Their package consists of a basic pay of Rs.5,300/-, an incentive/attendance allowance of Rs.8,900/-, a house rent allowance of Rs.1,600/-, a Dearness Allowance and an allowance for children's education, adding up to between Rs.17,000 and 18,000/- a month. Although their contracts include provisions for paid leave and casual leaves, each day off work results in a deduction of Rs.2,200/- from the incentive allowance. The entire amount of Rs.8,900/- is forfeited if a worker takes more than four days off in a month.

Regular workers cannot be threatened by dismissal, but are harassed and humiliated by supervisors who abuse and manhandle them, arbitrarily move them from one assembly line to another, and report them to managers or the HR Unit for concocted offences.

THE STRIKE


The workers at the Manesar factory started a new union in April 2011. The membership included both regular workers and casual workers hired through labour contractors. The management refused to recognize this union. On June 4, 2011, the workers stopped work. The A shift was just ending and the workers on the B shift had all come in. Workers on the C-shift were quickly contacted over the phone and asked to join the strike. Before the management realised what was happening, more than 2,000 men - regular workers, apprentices, trainees and contract workers from all three shifts – had occupied the factory, sending the management into a complete panic.

As the strike went into its second week, the Haryana Government declared it illegal, but was unwilling to intervene as they had done in the Honda strike. Although police were stationed in the factory premises, the management was reluctant to force the workers out of the factory, given the the risk of damage to the equipment. Equally, the workers were determined to hold their ground inside the factory – everyone was aware that being forced or persuaded to vacate the premises would be the beginning of the end, as it had been for striking workers in Rico Auto, Denso, Viva Global, Harsurya Healthcare, Senden Vikas .... crushed protests that left workers far more vulnerable than before.

By the time the strike entered its tenth day, the factory had lost Rs.600 crores and Maruti shares had plummeted in value. It was obvious that the Maruti management and the government were helpless in the face of the workers' determined refusal to surrender.

The agreement between the workers and the management that ended the strike on June 16th does not reflect this situation. No one reading this extraordinary document would guess that the workers were in a strong bargaining position while the management and the government had their backs to the wall. Instead, those who brokered this “return to normalcy” created a scenario that disempowered the workers and made it seem as if it was their inability to hold out any longer that brought them to the negotiating table.

THE AGREEMENT

The signing of the agreement and the fact that the management agreed to take back the 11 office-bearers of the new union who had been dismissed on 6 June, has been hailed as a victory for the workers by some commentators.

But the terms of the agreement suggest otherwise.

A bitter “victory”

The 11 terminated workers will be taken back, but enquiry proceedings will be initiated against them and “appropriate disciplinary action” will be taken. Regular employees will be considered to have resumed work on June 17th, but actual shifts will resume from midnight on June 18th. An extra day of work on June 19th will be required to compensate for not working on June 17th.

In accordance with the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and the standing orders of the company, workers participating in the strike are liable to a fine of three days wages for every day of work lost. However, it was agreed that, for the moment, only ten days' wages will be deducted (ie one day's wage for each day of the strike). The remaining amount of the fine will be waived if, and only if, the workers maintain good behaviour and discipline, and abide by the rules of the company.

In accordance with the principle of “no work, no pay”, the workers will not be paid for the days they were on strike.

The workers agreed to maintain discipline, ensure expected levels of production and not indulge in any individual or collective activities that would hamper the normal functioning of the factory. The management also agreed not to behave badly or hold a grudge against the workers.
The agreement will be taken as a final resolution of all disputes between the workers and the management.

The story of the Maruti Suzuki strike of 2011 is very similar to that of the Honda strike of 2005. The Honda workers were persuaded by the so-called negotiators to come out of the factory. Once they did, they were mercilessly beaten by the police. By brokering this agreement, the self-appointed negotiators in the Maruti case have dealt an even more lethal blow to the workers' struggle. The Maruti Suzuki management is exhibiting care and concern for workers' welfare in the immediate aftermath of the strike. If the Honda case is anything to go by, this phase will be short-lived, and will be followed by a further tightening of the screws.

The 1,700 Honda regular employees who launched the strike in 2005 were workers on the factory floor. Of the 1,800 regular workers on the Honda rolls today, a large segment works as supervisors of contract workers hired through labour contractors. For instance, the motorcycle engine assembly plant at the Honda factory in Manesar is run by 4 engineers, 12 regular workers and 110 casual workers hired through a labour contracting company. Each shift in the assembly line in the no.2 motorcycle plant has 8 staff, 3 line leaders, 4 regular workers, 4 casual workers hired directly by the company and 101 contract workers hired through a labour contractor. Workers hired through labour contractors are responsible for the bulk of the production in the Honda plant. There are 6,500 such workers on the production line, and another 1500 in ancillary departments.

THE ISSUE IS GLOBAL


Regular workers and irregular workers. Casual workers employed directly by the company and contract workers employed through a labour contractor. Registered contractors and unregistered contractors. Workers who are entitled to PF and ESI, and workers who are not entitled to these benefits....

As many as 75% of the factory workers workers in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad are invisible in government statistics. The vast majority – over 80% - of these workers are paid less than the statutory minimum wage. Shifts of 12 to 18 hours are the norm, and overtime is compensated at the same rate as regular duty and not at twice the regular rate as required by law.

The situation of workers in Maruti Suzuki and Honda is mirrored in thousands of small and medium factories operating within the 300 or so square kilometres of Delhi and the NCR, that are connected to other such operations in other cities thousands of kilometres away. All of them are struggling against similar strategies of exploitation and resisting attempts to undermine solidarity and unity.

Yet, it is this globalisation of oppression that is creating the conditions for solidarity across boundaries of race and nation, across different industries, different sectors, different companies.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

THINE-MINE INTERACTIONS

THINE-MINE INTERACTIONS WITH SPEAKING HANDS


We are afraid to talk about our problems-troubles-difficulties even with our co-workers, neighbors, and friends.

In the prevailing atmosphere, telling others about one's hardships-sufferings appears to bear the danger of being made fun of, being looked down upon, and being taken advantage of which would only increase one's difficulties-sufferings.

Making fun of poverty, weakness, and mistakes is prevalent.

Given the dominance of this perverted morality, we keep withdrawing into ourselves and our difficulties-hardships-sufferings continue to increase.

In the present system, each person is becoming increasingly insignificant. It is becoming meaningless whether or not a person exists or does not exist.

It is the effect of the present and the expression of this dark misery of human existence that many of our discussions take place in the combative arena of 'my-my, yours-yours':

I am this (praiseworthy) and you are that (derogatory), my father is like this and your daughter is like that, my heroine is this and your party is that; my caste is like this and your region is like that; my religion is this and your country is that...

In order to bolster oneself and downgrade the other, all that is taken up-attributed to-adopted by 'I-my' is shown to be virtue incarnate. And the things that are associated with or attached to the other ('you-yours') are denigrated. Fault upon fault in every 'I-my'. Virtue upon virtue in every 'you-yours'.

Open or hidden helplessness is the essence, and harshness-bitterness is the character of 'my-my, yours-yours' discourses.

Such discussions only work to further increase the already existing misery.

As a general matter, all sorts of discussions take place.

In these, thine-mine expressions also dwell, which seem important to us.

THINE-MINE MEANS OURS


Despite the dominance of the present system, it is a fact that compassion towards one another, sharing one another's happiness and sadness, helping one another is very widespread.

Our activities of love, respect, mutual help are of innumerable types and are endless. Thine-mine interactions seem to be part of an innate and natural human process.

It is true that our humane thoughts and practices which have been draped in holy and religious garb since time immemorial are visibly shrinking.

But what is more important is that faced with the ruthless awesomeness of the present, thine-mine interactions are making the whole earth their area of activity for the sharing of thy-my sorrow and pain (dukh-dard).

Our merging interactions, our close coordinations based on affection, regard, and mutual help, throughout the world, are moving forward to pose a challenge to the present system based on competition and denigration.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

WHAT ALL DO WE DO...?

19 Year Old Worker

I've been working since 1999. At this time, I am a casual (contract or temporary) worker in Lakhani shoes factory. I stay in a shanty on rent at 250 rupees. There is no electricty. And fearing raids of officials, the neighbors don't provide us with a connection, so we have to make due with a lamp. My duty is in general shift.

I get up at 5:30 a.m. I have to go out to defecate in a very dirty place. Then I get in line for water. My friend is also a casual worker and now after the break sells vegetables on the street. Just after getting up, he runs to the vegetable market. After collecting water, I prepare food for both of us. To prepare roti and vegetables for two on the kerosene stove, it takes an hour. After preparing the food, I take a bath and then I eat. I leave for duty at 8 a.m. on the bicycle.

Attendance is marked first at the factory gate and then in the department. Work begins at 8:30 a.m. There is no break for tea but at 9:30 tea comes from the canteen and one has to buy it with one's money and drink it while continuing to wok. It is very laborious work. You have to be at it all the time. Count, pack in boxes, load the vehicle... The supervisor continuously scolds and abuses us. In Lakhani shoes, there is not even time to drink water or go to the bathroom. One has to hide and go.

There is some relief during lunchtime. We eat together and talk. We want to leave this job but where can we go? Ideas keep churning in each one's mind. On the days I don't have time to make lunch, I eat in the canteen. They only serve rice and lentil beans in the canteen and they give an half plate for 4 rupees, but it does not fill my stomach. I have to spend 8 rupees. I am not able to send money home, nor am I able to live properly.

After lunch we have to work continuously for five and half hours, and there is no tea coming around. It seems as though we have been tied up. There is no overtime work for me. On the release at 5 p.m., I come straight to my room and make tea. Afte tea, I sit here and there for some time. I collect water at 6:30 p.m. and clean the utensils. I prepare food at 7 p.m. My friend returns at 9 p.m. and then we make dinner. Sometimes, I watch t.v. We wash the dishes and sleep by 10:30 p.m.

Around 19 Year Old Worker

After my 12th grade exams,I started working in a factory. I absolutely don't feel like getting up in the morning. My mother and father get up at 5 a.m. and start making vegetables and rotis. Even after repeated calls, I do not get up at 6:15 and then my mother's bickering begins. No matter how much I dislike it, I have to get up. Then I rush and get ready for work.

My mother says nasty things to me while giving me breakfast. Hurriedly, I eat and pack my lunch and by 7:15, I leave the house. I have to walk for ten minutes to get an auto. In one auto, we ten girls go to the factory. When the auto driver is late, he speeds a lot and we feel afraid. In these three years, I have seen many accidents. An auto flipping over caused serious injuries to my sister's girlfriend. During winters, one feels very cold in the auto. And during the summer, hot winds and in the rainy season, it's also problematic to be in the auto.

Our duty starts at 8:15 a.m. and the attendance is marked in the department. Before beginning work, we have to put on ghost-like uniforms. The supervisors scold us a lot and use dirty language while demanding production. Many girls start crying. They force us to increase production and then scold the boys into increasing production because of our production. Some girls out of fear of not meeting the production demands and some due to greed of incentive are at work all the time. They don't even have lunch and instead eat while returning home in the auto. There is immense pressure on us at the factory for fast and faster work...

Talking in the factory is prohibited. Under our breath, we abuse and curse the officers a lot. Our hands suffer a lot. Every day at least 5-6 times, needles prick my fingers. Sometimes, a lot of blood comes out, but the company keeps hammering away at us to produce, produce. There is no break in the factory except for lunch. Neither in the morning, nor in the evening does tea come to around. We have to ask and make an entry even for a water break. We girls have to work half an hour over time every day but the situation is worse with the boys. The boys have to work for 12 hours every day. Even on Sundays, we have to work. They scold us for taking Sunday off. And there is a bonus though, for full attendance in the month.

Having left home at 7:15 a.m., I return at 6:30 p.m. I am very hungry by then and the first thing I do is eat. I take out my frustration on my younger brother. I have to prepare dinner- mother also works. I wash the dishes and then watch t.v. It is 11 p.m. by the time I go to sleep.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SAGE NARAD DECLARED A TERRORIST

(March 1996)

People were busy skimming pages filled with news of scandals. By being careless in their crookedness, high officials and top leaders had created dangers for the system. High officials and top leaders' discussion was centered around the learned judges of the Supreme Court scolding of their brethren. Here we are reflecting on the capacity of these spicy preparations to spoil the digestion of workers. We were evaluating how much we had been misled and the meaninglessness of it all, when a gentleman in shirt and tie entered the Mazdoor Library...

We were astonished and didn't even know where to offer him a seat when cries of "God!" "God!" further surprised us. While respectfully offering a seat to the celestial traveller, we were obviously curious about his changed attire. When we saw the sage light a cigarette, we were even more surprised. While blowing smoke-rings, he smiled and said, "Son, this is not about my attire. Very, very important issues are ready to burst out from within me. I have come to talk to you, leaving an important meeting midway. I have to say a lot- don't disturb in between with tea."

"When the President of this country, then the Prime Minister of that country, then the union of governments, U.N.O., declared terrorism as the major problem of the world, Indra, the head of gods, was disturbed and sent Narad to earth to find out about the situation."

The voice of the sage continued without any hindrance, "Initially, the terror of bombs in buses-trains-planes, the firing in crowded markets, abduction, dacoity, murder, heaps of bodies in riots terrorized me. In the shadow of such hovering insecurity, what could I discover and what could I report back to the head of gods, Indra?" This sage who has been travelling from time immemorial had never been so worried. "When I presented my credentials to the President of Italy, at that time, due to the fear of terrorism, every pore of my body was sweating. Greedily glancing at my shaved head, the bald President ran his hand over his head and without any worries, sucking at his cigar, offered a cigar to me. Seeing the expression of the President of Italy, my fear lessened. I also lighted the cigar, but before taking a puff, I asked him impatiently why he was not afraid of terrorism. That small man in that massive palace in Rome smiled for some time and then started talking to me like he was explaining the matter to a child."

"The President of Italy said, 'God, you are one whom we worship but you are very naieve. To rule over people with your methods of incantation-bribery-threat-and guilt are so simple in contrast to today's needs. If not an hundred, then at least 90 will understand it in a blink and it will all become an harmful joke.

The history of the governments of Rome is very old. To keep people harnessed to work and to maintain control, scholars-intellectuals have written many volumes and translated such books... To rise on the ladder of governance, to become officer-leader and climb higher, the books of Machiavelli and devious Chanakya are as basic as the A, B, C's. Who can compete with the politicians of Italy in conspiracy and murder?!

Despite being very important, all these are old tales, but still, to fulfill the purpose for which you have come from heaven, it is necessary to inform you about them. Despite long experiences of ruling, we still had to choose officers-leaders through extremely tough competitions for the higher posts in government. Murder and deviousness was required for those of higher posts.

Then about 30 years ago, conditions started getting out of hand. People were not coming under our control. Keeping ordinary people under control through leaders-parties-organizations was failing. Instead of opposing this or that leader, or party, people in increasing numbers were becoming anti-government. In history, for the first time, ordinary people in increasing numbers were holding the government responsible for their every problem. Ordinary people started seeing the solution of their problem in doing away with governments. Why should anyone rule over anyone? Such questions, ideas, and practices putting the basis of rule and system of rule in danger were not only troubling us in Italy, but shaking governments throughout the world.



At that time, I was the Personal Assistant to the President. The duty to be with the President, like his shadow, provided me with rare experiences. Conversations with Presidents and Prime Ministers of various countries, discussions with one intellectual giant after the other, deep discussions in meetings with top officers of secret organizations...At each place, the problem of reestablishing control over ordinary people used to hover over us like a ghost. From that deep churning, emerged this all-curing terrorism which you've come to learn about....

Amongst politicians, scholars, and secret service chiefs of all countries, there was a common agreement that as far as they could see, there were problems upon problems in controlling ordinary people and they would only increase. Danger to the very existence of governments had arisen. In this situation, it had become of paramount importance that the gov't should appear before ordinary people as a savior where in the name of tackling terrible evil, ordinary people's anti-government attitude could be transformed into a pro-government one.

To terrorize ordinary people and keep them terrorized, there was a necessity for an extremely depraved, cruel, dangerous and unknown, invisible, devious, and powerful enemy from whom only government could protect ordinary people. Therefore, we created that enemy. We are rearing it. That enemy is terrorism!


Did you understand anything, God's emissary? I am proud of this fact that in Italy, we began its use before other governments. A secret organization of the government of Italy on December 12, 1969 blasted a bomb in the crowd in Piazza Fontana murdering 16 people. This act inaugurated the terrorism that has often caused ordinary people to support the government to save them from this terrible danger. Getting to know the reality of the slaughter at the post of Prime Minister, Aldo Moro and for months through radio-t.v.-newspaper-magazine brought them into order. Then to thrust the knife deeply, Aldo Moro was murdered.

There are problems, there are massive-insoluble problems, and they are increasing. But still, this all-cure of terrorism has given immense relief not only to the government of Italy, but to governments throughout the world.

Because of this, we have been able to acquire support for such laws where people can be imprisoned for years without trial. By characterizing an individual as a terrorist, anyone can be killed. The head of our 17 secret organizations will acquaint you with the details.'"
After repeating the conversations of the President of Italy, Sage Narad took a deep breath and after remaining silent for some time said, "The President had made clear the issue of making terrorism the paramount problem and propagating it. But still there are many notes which I put before the heads of the Italian government's secret organizations. The head of secret services accepted not only helping and coordinating with terrorist groups in other countries, but also establishing and directing terrorist organizations against one another in the governments of different countries. The government of India's secret service, RAW, does this in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China. Pakistan's ISI does this in India and Afghanistan. While America's CIA continues to do these bad deeds throughout the world, when the Soviet Union still existed, the KGB carried out these actions. What can we say of Israel's Mossad? Even the Italian government's secret organizations are one with the Palestinian PFLP. There are problems from terrorism organized and created by government against one another. But for some time now, this has become the routine activity of governments.

The chiefs of secret services in Italy said that these attempts to weaken other governments in competition as a bonus keeps the secret agents of all governments alert and on their toes. By putting the blame for problems on another government citizens', anger against "their" government is diverted. In India earlier, the CIA was seen as responsible for every problem. Now it is Pakistan's ISI. Secret service chiefs' matter-of-fact routine expressions in this context answer many questions without even being asked. I returned to the strange issue of government's organizing and directing terrorism against their own citizens.

The secret services chief of the government of Italy said that initially their agents used to keep time-bombs in a bus, train, or crowded place. Blast details-murders and headlines in newspapers-radio-t.v. of course spread terror. An atmosphere of alertness and strictness is created. But the blasts used to be anonymous and things would end in that. This was due to our lack of experience.

Soon secret services created such names whose pamphlets would be left at the site of a blast or responsbility would be taken by making phone calls to newspapers. Before terrorist organizations became concrete, the propaganda received and obtained through newspapers-magazines-and radio t.v. of course, performed the earlier tasks. Due to propaganda, many naieve militants were attracted towards those organizations and we enrolled them. Terrorist organizations are ladder-like secret organizations in which decisions are taken at the top and implemented by those at the bottom. Those at the top know those below, but those at the bottom do not know those at the top. In this situation, to get deeds done as per one's desire is a very enjoyable game. What all names we have had to think up for terrorist organizations- Red Terror, Red Brigade, Revolutionary Hammed, Muhajid Muhammed, Trishul Sena, Angels of Terror, Black Tiger, Red Lion..."

After speaking, Sage Narad became quiet. We were about to interrupt him for tea when he began speaking again. "In the expositions of the President and chiefs of secret organizations had been dominant. At this, I asked about those groups which emerged on their own and take great pains to solve social problems through terror. At my suggestion that these people are not the agents of secret organizations, all the chiefs laughed and started speaking to me as through I was a child. It is true that because of social problems, small, secret terrorist organizations form by themselves. But for security from government's secret organizations, they are forced to give their secret organization ladder-like form. Those at the top take decision and those at the bottom carry them out. In these also, those at the top know those at the bottom, but those are below do not know those who are above. Military discipline and indispensability of secrecy for security is embalmed with principle in such a way that those at the top are safe and independent and those at the bottom have to mortgage their conscience and are ever ready to carry out orders. To infiltrate into such organizations is a task for us secret agents. Given the means and the freedom to act that secret organization have been allowed, it is very easy us to infiltrate into any such organization. Infiltration on the basis of information from the inside, selective arrests and eliminations through 'encounters.' Our agents reached positions of those directing these organizations. By changing your attire a bit, we can provide you the experience of a chief of terrorist organization right now. Saying this, they put me in this dress. And do you know what they said? They said that we are declaring you a terrorist which will bring you in the line of the safest persons on the earth."

After saying all this, Sage Narad fell silent. The reality of terrorism organized and operated by governments as a policy began to dance in front of us. The deeds of secret organizations of governments in South American countries; bomb blasts in England; gas attack in Japan; terrorism and terror in Sri Lanka for 25 years; bomb blasts in Israel; firing in Egypt; burning Karachi in Pakistan; Hindu-Muslim riots from time-to-time in India; during 1967, murders of traffic policemen in Kolkatta; ULFA, Bodo, Naga, Kuki violence in Northeast. In Punjab, bombs in buses, selective killings of people, Black Cats, Barebody Gangs, murders of family members of policemen; in Kashmir, the abduction of Home minister Saiyyed, bomb at the Governor's venue, bomb blasts of buses in Jammu, indiscriminate firing by unkonwn people in selected villages, new terrorist organizations formed each day. In Delhi, bomb blasts in buses, trains, crowded markets...Amongst these, most of them are the deeds of secret organizations. And to give more reality to terrorism, to put it beyond doubt, and at the same time, to solve issues between ruling cliques, the murders of Kennedy, Mujeeb, Aldo Moro, Sadat, Indira, Zia ul Haq, Premdas, Rajiv Gandhi, Rubin...


Thinking about all this, to deal with the terrorism policy of governments and its implementation by bomb blasts, firing abductions, dacoity, and murders by secret services, we were about to ask Sage Narad for his views about secret versus open, when the sage suddenly got up and promising to meet soon again, left the Mazdoor Library...

(We have taken information from Gyan Franco Segunderi's book On Terrorism and the State)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In Hindi


Back issues of FMS in Hindi are now available online.



Read it here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WHAT ALL DO WE DO...?

34 Year Old Casual/ Temporary Worker
I came to Faridabad for the first time in 1997. First, I joined Autopin factory through a contractor. In the first month, for 13 to 14 days, I worked for 16 hours each day. (I was seventeen at the time.) I worked there for nine months. In later months, I worked 16 hours a day for six, seven, eight days.

Through another contractor, I joined Talbross factory. Here also for six days in a month, they used to force us to work for 16 hours. During winters, going to and from the factory was very problematic given the fog at the railway crossing and crossing the National Highway Mathura Road. I saw three, four accidents where blood was all over the place. I felt sick. Because of the accidents and night duty during winter, I left Talbross after four months.

Then through an acquaintance, I joined Anil Rubber factory. Here for the first time, they had me sign on blank papers at the time of employment. I had also heard that employment officers take a 200 rupee bribe. In Anil Rubber, I worked sixteen hours a day only four days in a month. After six months, I was given a 'break', meaning termination of services.

I joined Expro factory. Here we have to work for 16 hours a day, five days in the month. And there was no chance of leaving after 12 hours of work. While working in Expro factory, I had heard about ITI (Industrial Training Institute). After six months, I was again given a 'break'. In June 1998, I left for my village. That year I could not get admission in ITI. I got admisson in 2000. After completing ITI in 2002, I came back to Faridabad and I am now a temporary worker in Oswal Electricals.
At this time, I am on night shift. In the factory, I go to the latrine. (If I don't go in the factory, then I have to go out in the open near my shanty.) I walk back to my room. I wash up and then have a bath. I don't drink tea. By this time, it's 9 a.m. And for breakfeast, I make roti, and fry potatoes, peas, or cauliflower. Sometimes, when I am too tired, I straightaway prepare my meal- rice, lentils, and something else with it. Normally, I sleep at 11 a.m. and get up at 4:30, 4:45 p.m. If I sleep after breakfast, then I miss out on lunch. After washing up, I go to the vegetable market and have a light snack there. At most, I spend 5 rupees on it. I buy vegetables for another 5 rupees and on returning I sit in a barbershop and read the newspaper there for an hour or two. Then for an hour or two, I study in the room- general knowledge, general science, and about my subject of refrigeration. At night by 9 p.m., I make dinner. Then I rest for an hour before leaving for work.

On arrival, attendance is marked at the factory gate. In the department, the supervisor tells us the work to be done and issues gloves and a pencil. I have to check the production of three operators. I have to check for fissures, indents, fault in the sites etc. There is pressure from the operators that I should hold back from finding faults. Yet, the responsibility of the job is that I do it according to the norms. This work continues into the night until 7:30 a.m. In Oswal electricals, there is no break for a meal and even for tea. Constant work for 8 hours! There is no question of sleep. (In some factories, workers work quickly and sleep after their work.) If the material is bad, then you can't even take out ten to fifteen minutes for yourself and the material piles up. If the material is good, then we can rest for five, ten minutes and dring this time, we go to the latrine. Otherwise, we go to the toilet after the shift is over.
There are 500 workers in Oswal Electrical factory, but there is no canteen. (The law says if there are more than 300 workers, there has to be a canteen.) We are banned from leaving the factory to have tea. Three, four of us have to get together and obtain a gate pass for one person from the supervisor and send him to the East India Crossing open shops to get tea. Even supervisors cannot go out to have tea. This was the situation in the night-shift of Talbross Factory also- no break for meal, no break for tea, and there was a canteen, but it used to be closed at night.
Shifts change every week. Last week I worked the morning shift. Then I used to get up at 5 a.m. I had to go out in the open to defecate. Then make breakfast and lunch. Eat two rotis and fold four to take with me. During winters, I don't bathe in the morning. From 7:30 a.m., I work in the factory. In the day shift, there is lunch break from 11:30 to 12 noon.

After the shift is over at 3:30, I come straight back to my room. I bring water and have a bath- supply water is not too cold. If something is left over, then I have that, or I prepare something small to eat. Then I read for awhile. I go to the library in NH1 (a locality) and for an hour, I skim through both English and Hindi newspapers. And return by 7 p.m. I'll read books for an hour or two. I prepare my dinner at 9 p.m. and sleep by 11 p.m.

For these 15 days, I have to do all the work myself. Earlier I used to give an acquaintance, 600 rupees per month for my meal.
The most problemtic is B shift duty. Now I will have to bear this all by myself. In B shift, I return from the factory 12 at night. At that point, it is very difficult to eat the 9 p.m. prepared cold food. It is 1 a.m. by the time I finish eating. I can't fall asleep until 2 a.m. In the morning, I awake at 7, 7:30 a.m. and because of lateness, going out in the open for latrine is an additional problem. By the time I have my bath, it is 10 a.m. After breakfeast, I feel drowsy and sleep for another hour and a half. After getting up, I have my meal at 12:30 to 1 p.m. and just wile away time. Everything goes topsy-turvy in B shift. I feel loose, without energy. This laziness remains till 4:30, 5:30 p.m. After we have been working for an hour, then the body becomes alert. In B shift, leisurely roaming and reading stops.
I really dislike being in the factory. There is too much fault-finding and lecturing by the supervisor. I feel bad when co-workers refuse to answer a question or talk back rudely- they don't even consider us human beings. They want to get work out of us at a faster speed than CNC (computerized) machines.

Outside there are also problems upon problems. Water problem, problem in the post office, problem at the railway station...everywhere there is a line. I dislike lines. Right now, I have no friends here. They are all temporary. A little acquaintance, some conversation. Sometimes, I feel extremely lonely.
I like interesting work, where there are things to be learned. I like to roam about and gather information. But in this age, where are such things?...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WHAT ALL DO WE DO...?

42 Year Old Gov't Employee

I have been in central government service for twenty years. Before this, I did other jobs for 5 years. To earn some money, I had begun tutoring from the time I was in 8th standard. After I had finished 11th standard, I joined a factory. I worked in different factories- Hindustan Syringe, Escorts first plant, Unimax lab, Belmont Rubber, and Steadchem. (After every six months, I was thrown out). While working in the factories, I continued my studies through correspondence and completed a Bachelors in Commerce. Then I became a teacher in a school and while I was teaching there I got a job in the Central Government.

My husband is also in government service. We have one son. Because of Board Examinations, after 12, he doesn't go to school these days, and my health is also not well. Therefore, in the morning I get up late- 6:45, 7 a.m. For the past 7 years, I have had breathing problems. For over a year now, a major operation was postponed for medical reasons and then I avoided it because of my son's exam.

Even in gov't service, for years it was routine to wake up at 5 in the morning. After making breakfeast and lunch, I sent my son to school at 7. The fridge made it possible to knead the flour for rotis at night and cut vegetables beforehand. So instead of getting up at 5, I could get up at 5:30. After getting my son ready, I would broom and mop the floor and wash the dishes. Then get ready for work. Because of breathing problems, increasing from the dust, for the past three years a woman comes and does the household work. Whether I am awake or asleep, work is on the mind all the time. I don't feel like getting up in the morning, but I have to work. My husband brings milk and makes tea for us in the morning. I make breakfast and lunch. After getting ready by 8:45, I leave for the office. Work is work. There's nothing to like about it. Even if there is a problem in the house or I'm not feeling well, I still have to go to work.

Work is from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. First of all, we have to sign in. Then begin your work and keep at it. Earlier I was dealing with the public, but now I only work behind a desk. Because of this, I can be a bit flexible with the work. If I don't feel like it today, I'll do it tomorrow, but I can't postpone it too much longer.

There are no constraints on drinking tea in the office from your own money, but I don't have an habit of drinking tea. Lunch is from 1 to 1:30 and during that time, men and women sit separately. Such is the tradition. In the women's section, we talk about children, family matters, the rising prices of everyday expense. Someone sings a devotional song. But 80% of us lie down for twenty minutes. Some even take a nap. In these twenty years, I haven't faced any difficulty as a woman employee. Now in the office there are many women working, but when I was dealing with the public, I was the only woman amongst male co-workers. Instead of facing problems as a woman, I got special attention.

After 1:30, office work continues till 5:30. Because I have to sit in a chair all day, I get tired. From the office, straightaway I come home. I'm dead-tired and my husband makes a cup of tea for me. I make dinner and prepare things for tomorrow's meals. By 10 p.m., we have had our meals and are free. Then we watch t.v.

From childhood itself, I haven't had time for any interest to develop. Everything is so tied up by routine. If there is an holiday for a day or two, I can do the pending household work, but any time more than that and I wouldn't know what to do.

My attempt has been that my son shouldn't have to face the difficulties we have faced. We live an extremely simple life. My husband and I are both government servants and we have only one son, but still we are in debt. We are worried about our son's exams, but we are even more worried about his admission. What if we have to pay for a slot in a university? To take a loan, we would spend our whole life repaying it. And then my operation!

There are problems. But I consider only those as problems for which I cannot see a solution. In my life, I have had problems at each step. Therefore, I do not consider routine problems as problems. I did not bother about my health- for my job, I have done overtime, and on holidays instead of taking rest, I take care of household tasks. Because of these reasons probably, there have been too much mental pressures. Taking it all into consideration, I am worried about my health.

From my childhood, I liked helping others and my own people. I don't know why I liked to. Instead of sitting in a chair and doing office work, I like live relations instead. It has been almost my nature that I should not hold back anyone's papers and no one should have problems because of me. It has never entered my mind that people whose work I do should pay me something in return. In twenty years, I hav not taken a cent from anyone for doing his or her work. And because of this, I have gotten great satisfaction. But in dealing with the public, you need a lot of energy. Of course, you have to talk a lot. You also meet many such people who simply do not accept that you want to help them. In such a situation, one gets tense. Because of illness, now I am doing a deskjob. And here also I don't want to see anyone face a problem because of me. But government itself is a problem...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WHAT ALL DO DO WE DO...?


50 Year Old Electricity Board Worker

Duties and Shifts.

Right now my shift is from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., but I am only really off-duty at 9 a.m. because early in the morning, there is a lot of load on the electrical line and some mishap is bound to occur. There is not enough staff there, so we have to stay back and I get home late.

I am tired when I get home. I don't feel like doing anything. At this age, physical fatigue is natural. But nowadays, mental stress is greater.

These days my family is with me so when I get home, I get a cup of tea. After having tea, I rest for an hour or two. Then after a bath and my meal, I go to sleep around 1 p.m.

Of course, I don't feel like I have to get up around 3 to 4 p.m. Sometimes, it is because noise in the house or noise outside. But I don't get enough sleep. Because of this, my heart and mind are restless...

After getting up, I go and get the vegetables or some other household things. If I leave, I have to go here and there at 6 p.m. It's 8 by the time I return. These days I get my meals cooked,so I don't have the additional burden of having to cook my own food. But still there is usually there is something or the other to deal with.

Sometimes, I am ill or my kids are ill and we have to go to the doctor. Depending on the season, there is some illness or the other. On the days I have to go for treatment for myself or the kids, then I have to squeeze in all the other things I have to do. I don't get a chance to rest. One has to be on duty during the prescribed shift hours. If there is any work on the electric line, then one has to go. Otherwise one has to stay at the Complaint Center. As soon as some break-down takes place, one has to inform the officer.
During summers, there is a lot of power failure. Because of dust storms and winds, there are breakdowns on the line. There is also too much load on the line because of people running fans, coolers, leading to breakdowns. Even at 1 or 2 in the night, the public will come to the Complaint Center. It is because those who come in and complain give us an helping hand with the manual work that we are even able to work. Otherwise, there is too much staff shortage.
During winters, there are less power failures, but when they do happen it is difficult to search them out. Because of fog, there are additional problems. A ten minute task takes half an hour. And sometimes, it is even difficult to locate the reason for the failure at all.
During the rainy season, the transformers get burnt. Cables get burnt. Trees fall and wires are broken. The danger of accidents is high. Most workers are busy. Conversations are few. Discussions only take place when people are happy.
When my family is not with me and they return to the village, then life becomes very difficult. Before I come home, I have tea at a shop somewhere. After coming home in the morning, I have to clean the place. Mop the floor, dust, wash the clothes, wash the dishes. I have to collect water from the public tap. Then I cook my lunch and dinner. Sometimes, I make vegetables with bread or rice and lentils or bring curd from the shop and eat it with bread. It gets to be 1 to 1:30 p.m. once I complete all this. Then I rest for an hour or two.

After getting up, I clean the utensils and get vegetables from the market...Sometimes, my bicycle needs repairs and sometimes my body needs repairs.By this time, it's already 8 p.m. And then I have to get ready for the night shift.

Life alone is very difficult to handle, whatever be the shift. For the morning shift at 7 o'clock, I get up at 5 a.m. When I am alone, then for half of the week, I am not able to make food for myself. I have to go for duty without tea or breakfast and there is not enough time to prepare a lunch to take with me. One reason for this is the laziness that come in the body with age.

Even if one does not get meals, one still has to work. I have to either eat in the hotel or share whatever co-workers have brought. When the family is with me, I get home-cooked food. During the morning shift, there is more work. Instead of 3 p.m., we get off at 4, 5, 6 p.m. Some work or the other comes up so that we can't leave yet. But we don't get overtime payment for staying back.

Monday, April 11, 2011

IHAAS-IHAASIYE


Coming together to help one another used to be called Ihaas. Fifteen to twenty persons would join together, take up the task, and quickly complete it. The beginnings of Ihaas are not known, but in the villages of Punjab and Haryana (northwest India), even 50 years ago, Ihaas-Ihaasiye could be seen.

As much as we decrease the necessity for money, that much more space increases for us. There is an easy, simple way to decrease the necessity for money: help one another. Our close coordinations shrink the space for money and enlarge the space for you, for me, for us...

We do not know whether Ihaas questioned caste-based oppression-exploitation or not. Still, Ihaas ad Ihaasiye which shrank the space of money by means of mutual help are a source of inspiration for us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TURMOIL IN EUROPE: A WORKER FROM LONDON

(New Series No. 271, January 2011)
Shaky money system, increasing state debts, austerity measures, general strikes, violent demonstrations... during the last months of 2010, the social turmoil in Europe has intensified to a degree unseen for 40 years. We have a look at the prelude of the unrest, it's weaknesses and potentials.
At the end of 2008, the global market was shaken. In Europe, governments told us that it was the problem of banks in the US which gave out cheap credits to people who were not able to pay them back. We saw middle-class people losing jobs and houses, ending up living in tents. Houses remained empty because no one was able to afford to live in them. New cars were piling up because without credits, no one could buy them. And we thought it was just their problem.

The crisis gripped some of the global companies, particularly those of the automobile industry. Between October 2008 and February 2009 about 800.000 temporary workers in Germany lost their job, but they don't have to call this redundancies. The permanent workers were sent on short time work with agreement of union and financial support of the state. In France, workers locked-in managers and threatened to blow up factories in order to get compensation. But in general, the first wave of crisis seemed to have been avoided.

During 2009, it became obvious that not only the US banks, but all major banks in Europe were involved in the business with debts. We were told that the bankers were greedy, but that the government had to save the banks in order to save the economy. The state debts increased. In 2010, the state in Greece announced that it would have difficulties paying back its debts. The European central banks sent money. In Germany, we were told that it was just the problem of the Greeks because they retire too early at age 59 and the state has to pay the pensions. "Why should we pay for them?", the public media asked. In Greece, the public media blames the German state and the IMF which supposedly 'forces' the Greek government to engage in spending cuts in return for credits.

The next countries on the line were Ireland and Spain. The collapse in construction, tourism, and other sectors resulted in an increase of unemployment to 20 per cent in Spain. This time they had more difficulties to explain the high state debts: Ireland had been the boom country of the 2000's, quite a few young Germans went there to find better paid work. By this time, the governments in Europe had to declare that the debt crisis is affecting all states and that the Euro as a money system is under threat. They started to say that we will all have to save money and work longer. They told this to a generation of workers which will not understand: during the last 20 years we have seen wages declining, temporary jobs replacing permanent employment and work load increasing - so why are we now in a deepening crisis?

By 2010, all governments announced cuts in spending: later retirement age, wage cuts for public sector workers, higher university fees, cut in unemployment and other benefits. In England, the state announced to cut 500,000 jobs in the public sector - which will result in 500,000 more job cuts in the private sector - and to make unemployed people work without payment. They say that the financial support for poorer school students (transport, books etc.) will be withdrawn. In Ireland, the government announced a 10 per cent cut of the minimum wage. Many countries announce to close their borders more tightly to prevent the entry of migrant workers.

An atmosphere of panic has taken over the world of parliaments, company headquarters, and stock exchanges. The saving measures are supposed to re-establish the trust of 'the market' into the credibility of the government and the Euro. But it seems that the measures result in the state losing the trust of the 'normal people'. The news are full of pictures of demonstrations, strikes, clashes with the police, attacks on government buildings.

Several one day general strikes in France during September, 29th of September general strike in Spain, 24th of November general strike in Portugal, 30th of November massive student demonstration in England, 27th of November students in Italy blockade most major cities in Italy, 27th of November biggest demonstration in Ireland's history, 15th of December another general strike in Greece...

Some of these protests looked massive: an hundred thousand people in the streets; no trains running. The size is an expression of general anger. People bother to march and shout. But one day strike is not yet an expression of strength. In the following some glimpses at the weaknesses and potentials in these protests.

France

In France, more than a million were on the streets, but the actual participation in the general strike was only around 20 per cent and this only in public sector. The strike has seen some new forms of organization: inter-professional assemblies, blockades of roads and rail-tracks. These strikes brought together workers from different sectors. But they are also expressions of weakness. In Paris, bin men of the public sector were on strike, but private bin men did not join. In response, few workers of the 'inter-professional assembly' start to blockade the waste incinerators. The waste piles up, but this does not overcome the initial division. Out of assemblies and blockades, new things appear. For example a day-long occupation of 'round-abouts', with people camping, barbecuing, talking and enjoying music.

Spain

In Spain, the division between the growing mass of young unemployed and public sector workers seem even wider. When a general strike was called, the government starts to blame 'the lucky (public) workers' for being privileged. Like in France the socialist government in Spain tried to enforce a 'minimum service' in public transport, hospitals, waste collection etc., and threatened workers with a fee, and in the case of France, even with prison, if they don't go back to work. Workers in public transport ignored this for some days. Then their union representatives accepted the 'minimum service'. In November 2010, the airport workers (flight controllers) went on strike. The government brought in the army in order to take over the work. This has not happened since the dictatorship in the 1930's to 1970's.

England

Everyone was shocked by the announcement of the cuts, but there was no call for general protest. The cuts are enforced on a local level. In a school in the South of London, 16 out of 200 teachers were supposed to be sacked. The union said that it would not accept 'forceful redundancies', but did not do anything else, saying that due to legal circumstances nothing can be done. The school management put pressure on people: every teacher had to undergo a 'test', even after several years of teaching, and a supervision of their class lessons. The pressure resulted in 16 people accepting VRS. At my work-place, the management took 2 out of 9 trucks off of waste collection. The remaining 7 trucks and workers will have to do extra-work. They will stop calling in 10 temporary workers, this will not even make the news.

Then a slight surprise happened. The student union had called for a march against higher university fees (most students are 10,000 - 20,000 pounds in debts after finishing studies) on November 10th. At first, it seemed the usual march: some leaders speaking, stewards showing the route, slogans. Then several thousand students left the official route and encircled the building of the ruling party. They smashed windows, occupied the offices and the roof, lit fires, brought in music to dance around them. The police were surprised, the government enraged, the student union president distanced himself and talked about 'violent minority'. The incident has given some fresh air to the school and university students.

In the following weeks 30 to 40 universities were occupied in protest against the fee hike. Often only one big room is occupied. The occupiers organize activities themselves: cooking, writing leaflets, going to picket-lines of public sector workers, organizing teach-outs (holding 'lessons' in public spaces, for example supermarkets or banks). Maybe 300 to 500 people take part in this. Some universities have 10,000 to 20,000 students.

The younger school students are more uncontrollable. Their financial support has been cut and they are angry. They organize mainly through the internet (85,000 joined a web-site to be informed about spontaneous demonstrations) and mobile phones. On the day of a demonstration, they go from class room to class room to call people, they jump over fences when teachers try to lock them in, they go to university students to mobilize them. The police cannot cope with them: there are no speeches, no stewards, no route. At the first demonstration, they finally managed to 'kettle thousands of school students for 6 - 9 hours in the freezing cold'. They hoped that next time they would not turn up.

The next time school students ran in groups of several thousands into different direction as soon as they saw police. They ran through the main streets of London, normally reserved for cars and shopping. When they saw the car of Prince Charles, they attacked it. Some of them shouted "We are from the slums of London," while some of the university students had banners like "I don't want to become a bin men." Instead of political party slogans and banners, we saw a lot of self-made placards, such as "I wish I could say something beautiful, but I cannot" or big signs saying "This is not a good SIGN."

The school students have changed the atmosphere a little bit. The local councils separately have to announce where to cut money, where to sack workers. Nowadays several hundred police have to protect these local parliament meetings from being disturbed by protesters. Some of the politicians say, "You act against democracy." In the public media, more and more voices say: "Accept the cuts in the sake of democracy. The government has been elected."

The pictures of the demonstrations in England went around Europe. A few days later students in Italy occupied public buildings, the Tower of Pisa. People in working class areas of Rome helped them to keep the police away. The students shouted, "London is calling and we answer." The following week students and workers in Greece occupied buildings, battles with the police erupted...

Despite the mass marches, the various parliaments have voted in favor of the austerity measures. The large scale and partly 'symbolic' protests have not prevented the 'symbolic' vote. The struggle will have to find ways to express itself on a daily level. Nevertheless, the large demonstrations have not yet made people tired. In England the opposite is true- people say things like 'I feel alive'. They run free through town, meet people in assemblies, take over a space which has been impersonal (occupation of offices or inner-city streets). The media and social scientists are surprised: "Who are these young people"? "And why are they so angry"? "Can it just be because of a fee hike or a money cut"? We see a generation which in this crisis has lost its illusions: that individual efforts will result in a better future. The global atmosphere of the last decades was that of individual pressure: exams, short term work contracts, individual debts.

Whether mortgages in America or micro-credits in Andhra Pradesh: debts fill the gap between an ever growing apparatus of state and industry on the one hand and the down-sliding existence of those who keep this apparatus running by their work on the other. Debts are an expression of desperate hope for the future: management-market-politicians take credits to win time when profits-sales are bad. They hope that 'more technology-more production-less workers-lower wages' will bring back 'prosperity' in the future. Credits will keep business running till then. As a result of their 're-structuring', unemployment is rising. Wages are decreasing and workers are forced to take credits themselves in order to compensate the wage loss. Their debt is partly pure necessity, partly the individual hope that in the near future a better job will turn up; that the child will find a good job after education. The debts are an expression of dependence. They keep us running, the interest rates keep us running faster. They keep the system running, although everything - the tired bodies, the suffering friendships, the polluted nature - screams to stop.
The last time we saw the system shaking to this degree was when the crisis forced the European states into mass destruction of humans and industry in the Second World War. This was their way to 'annihilate the debts', to start anew. We will have to find a different way. Some of the struggles in Europe can give us hope. The 'enforced stop-and-go' of the crisis will disrupt 'the daily race' and might bring us together in search for a different, money-less society: where we decide together what we need and how we obtain it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

INDENTURED LABOUR & CORVEE/GRATIS LABOR ARE COMMON IN FACTORIES


(New Series No. 151, May '08)

THE LAW

Decision of the Supreme Court of the Gov't of India:

According to Article 23 of the Constitution, if the state or central gov't pays less than the statutory minimum wage to any worker it is considered forced labor. Workers who are paid less than the statutory minimum wage are bonded workers. Bonded labour, getting work done in a fuedal mode, is banned by law and the Indian Constitution.

UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY FOR WORKER’S RIGHTS

*IIT Kanpur, Delhi University and Jawarhalal Nehru University are Government of India institutions as well as major centers of knowledge-production.

-In a 1999 survey, some students of IIT Kanpur discovered that none of the contractors on campus were paying the statutory minimum wages to its workers.

-In 2004, 1,500 male and female workers were engaged in construction-repair work worth 28 to 30 crore rupees at twenty places. On the JNU campus, workers in construction, library, gardening, cleaning, cafeterias are hired through contractors. These workers are not paid the statutory minimum wage. Some students, employees, and teachers discovered this fact. In turn, they founded "University Community for Workers Rights."

Afternoon news on All India Radio on May Day. The Government of Delhi has set the daily minimum wage at 140 rupees, but all the workers the AIR correspondent interviewed were only paid 80 to 85 rupees.

-With the emergence of this opposition to bonded labor and fuedal mode of work on JNU's university campus, some students were punished in June 2007.

(Information taken from People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) publication "Fettered Lives: A Report on Contract System and Exploitation of Workers in JNU.") Contact PUDR: c/o Sharmila Purkayasth, S. Miranda House, Teachers Flat, Delhi University, Delhi 110007.

MINIMUM WAGE IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

*We'll not talk about the extreme shamelessness or the conspiracy of generating a fearsome reality to make people passive… We will also not talk here about bonded workers at brick mills and stone quarries, now and then depicted as 'extraordinary' or unusual. Come, let's take a glance at factory production in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.

First, let us take a look at the authorized factory areas by their block, sector, phase. Okhla Industrial area in Delhi is such a place. Udyog Vihar in Gurgaon is such a place. Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida in U.P. are major factory areas adjoining Delhi. Faridabad is mostly a city of factories. In factories, situated in unauthorized industrial areas in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, 70 to 75% of all the workers in factories in authorized industrial areas are not in company documents. They are considered 'illegal workers.' These 70 to 75% of workers are not paid the statutory minimum wage. The statutory minimum wages in Uttar Pradesh is 2,699 rupees. In Haryana, it is 3,535 rupees. In Delhi, it is 3,633.

Among these workers, many are forced to sign in company and gov't documents that they have received statutory minimum wages when they are paid less than that. If one leaves or is kicked out after working for a week or ten days in a factory, payment is not given for that week of work.
In the national capital region spread over Delhi, U.P., and Haryana in registered factories located at authorized sites, 75 to 80% of workers are not paid minimum wages.
In Delhi and Faridabad, there are lots of areas which are not authorized for factory production, but where large numbers of factories exist. Today a significant portion of factory production is taking place in these unauthorized areas. Those who made plans and policies for factories in Okhla, Udyog Vihar, Noida, Faridabad have not allotted any space for worker's housing nearby. In this situation, workers are compelled to live in unauthorized colonies...In these colonies, the destructive dance of workshops and factories continues day and night.
95 to 98% of workers engaged in industrial production are invisible in documents. 90 to 95% of workers engaged in workshops and factories in unauthorized areas of Delhi and Faridabad are not paid the statutory minimum wage.
And to put salt on a wound- there is ‘honararium.’ The Gov't has taken the lead in paying 1/2, 1/3, 1/4th of the statutory minimum wage in the name of paying an honararium rather than what is actually owed.

CREATION OF THE WORLD MARKET

*Getting work done gratis was the basis of serfdom. Labouring masses have been tied up in many bonds. As a a part of their birthright, those living in forts and palaces extracted a part of the produce from laboring masses. Proponents of the market raised a slogan of opposition to taking things gratis. Traders declared "give with this hand, take with that hand." A new flag of independence. A major portion of serfs were then transformed into artisans-peasants. Representatives of the market left fuedals far behind in cruelty, oppression-exploitation...While they broke many old bonds, they still kept many bonds intact and created many new bonds. The valor of traders who dethroned fuedal mode through slave trade and bonded labour fructified in the making of the world market.

The world market became the basis of production for the market employing wage-labour. World market became the basis of wage-system. The new mode of production denouncing corruption, cruelty, slave trade, indentured labor of traders gave ‘less development’ as a reason for these. Establishing itself through steam, and coal-based machines, this mode declared progress and development as the cure for all ills. Cutting each and every bond, demolishing every shelter, the vehicle of progress-development glorified the free availability of wage workers as 'freedom'. The chariot of progress-development has played such havoc with the earth, oppression-exploitation are extremely pale in front of it.

In a few areas, some workers had slight relief from bonded labour and fuedal bonds. But, increasing numbers of labouring masses began to sink in fathomless whirlpools.

*Serfs transformed into peasants. Artisans became free from fuedal bonds. The illusions of peasant-artisans' freedom through labor produced for the world market...Production for the market employing wage work carries a social death for artisans-peasants.

In these 200 hundred years, production for the market, employing wage work has become world-wide. In these 200 years, the social death and social murder of artisanship-peasantry has been increasing throughout the earth. Increasing numbers of labouring masses have been transformed into wage workers. Ruined peasants. Artisans changing into wage workers. Reducing the demand of wage workers with new, newer machines!

This is the result of the process of progress-development. This process has created a situation today where only one worker is needed, but an hundred are available. This condition increases workers' compulsions to such an extent that there a multitude of workers available for work in any condition. The increasing compulsion of workers does increase pity. Pity is also extremely dangerous for the present social system. All governments, all courts, all big brains are acquainted with the present reality, but they are helpless to confront this reality. Therefore, face to face with bad to worse conditions, workers have to leave aside gov't- courts-big brains and think for themselves about to what to do...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WHAT ALL DO WE DO...?


47 Year Old Doctor

Normally, I have a good deep sleep. I get up naturally. I like waking up. It's not like I think, "Oh, another day has come." The reason for this? Probably, my two decisions- not to take bribes and not to indulge in just anything after duty hours to earn money.

I get up two hours before duty-time. By the time, I brush my teeth and shave, my wife makes tea. While drinking tea, we read the Hindi newspaper together. Then in the toilet, I read the English paper. I glimpse at the headlines. My interest is in reviews or analysis of economic-social issues. If it is not about health, I do not read the editorial. After my bath, I get ready half-an hour before duty time. A woman comes in to clean the house and prepare breakfast. We, husband and wife, while having breakfast together watch the news. If anyone comes to meet us in the morning, we feel inconvenienced.

At the hospital in the morning, there is a tradition where the doctors meet informally. Greetings and casual exchanges take place. Earlier, there used to be discussions of the stock exchange but thankfully, the 1992 scam where doctors lost a lot of money has put an end to the early morning obsessive discussion about money. After the meeting, every one goes to their own department. Routine work-rounds. Gov't health institutions are certainly inadequate. Too much of a workload on doctors and other hospital employees. Indirect wage-cuts are also occurring. Increasing wages is a thing of the past. Now the question is of maintaining the wage you have. These days more and more, the administration treats us as servants of the government where we can be called for work twenty-four hours a day, thirty days out of the month...

For the rural and urban poor, there is absolutely no space to live. At least, they should have a place to die in peace, but political leaders make this impossible. The gov't policy itself is ludicrous- "health at your door." This policy turns us into puppets. The sword of transfers hangs over every gov't employee's head. I have also borne and managed it. Because of proximity to power, I have also exercised some clout. But my conscious efforts have been to not make use of that clout for personal gain. In gov't service, generally there is no scope for specialization. The structure of the 1940's still continues. You're placed anywhere for duty. I absolutely do not like duty in shifts, but have had to do it.

Although, there is an increasing tendency to increase the hours of work, I'm thankful that in the hospitals right now, the doctor's duty is six hours. To deal with hundreds of patients...

Probably, I have become old or aged. I am pained by the increasing tendency amongst doctors to think in money terms- let the patient pay 100, 200, 500 otherwise, delay or ignore the patient! Ten years earlier 30 to 40% doctors considered this way of taking money wrong. Now merely 10 to 15% think so. In medical college, I used to think wherever we are together, we will stop such a tendency. But now I find myself weak, helpless. In these conditions, articulate opposition does not seem to have any meaning.

One-third of doctors in New Zealand are suffering from mental illness. 10% of doctors have dangerous mental diseases. This is the result of tension borne of pressure, of too much work and responsibility. According to a study conducted by Wellington School of Medicine, 441 physicians, 330 surgeons, and 400 pharmacist were included.

Doctors are increasingly becoming money-minded. They consciously take wrong decisions- "there is no need for operation, but operate still because it will make more money"! Desires for car, house, computer, children in costly schools, property...Even after all the dishonesty and cheating, doctors still have difficulties paying installments. Conflict and tension in interpersonal relations has increased.

At two or three p.m., duty is over. Domestic help keeps the food ready. My wife and I have our meals together. In summers, after meals, I sleep for two to two and an half hours. I have no problem in maintaining a regular, daily routine for myself. But where others' company is needed, schedules are irregular. I swim alone, but I cannot play volleyball alone! After duty hours, doctor colleagues get involved in some money-making scheme. Many people keep pushing me to take up some business but I have decided that I need time for myself. I clearly refuse to use my after duty hours time to earn money.

My childhood was one of poverty. During winters, I did not have a sweater. In winter, one must have a sweater. I must not be poor! But I never had a desire for car, bungalow, servants...For my medical college expenses, my family had to mortgage our agricultural land. If the expenses were what they are now, then I wouldn't have gone to medical school. If the bribe of 5 lakhs that is now being taken from doctors to secure employment was being done earlier, I would not have chosen to be in gov't service. My mother has been my inspiration. Around my mother, there used to always be a congregation of women and girls. And she used to cooperate, help, give suggestions about weaving cloth, making good food, dance...Many things are taking place in the world where I can contribute. My heartfelt desire is to make positive contributions. If things improve, I feel good. I enjoy helping people, although my wife does not like this tendency of mine which runs counter to the current pragmatism. My desire is to acquire recognition as a good-hearted, mature person. I absolutely do not like anyone showing pity on me. I do not want recognition on the basis of weakness, but rather on the basis of my good qualities.

In medical college, I had begun to study health problems. My stress has been on community health and treatment. With the community's participation in health matters, corruption and negligence can be easily dealt with. In light of my experience during these years, I find that there is a danger in community participation when it only includes the dominant persons in the community. Again, no space is left for the weaker ones. Health first or social transformation first? Social transformation...But those who have taken contracts to change society- to me, they seem incapable of doing that. They are set establishments. To keep the structure intact is their priority. Therefore, in the arena of social transformation, they are without any importance- I don't see any logic in fighting parties or making friends with them. To overlook them seems proper to me. Practice according to conscience will open up new ways.

After swimming, leisurely walk and games. At 6:30 p.m., I have tea and snacks. Then for some time, t.v. Then I go to the market if necessary. Before dinner, for an hour, I sit with neighbors and chit-chat. Dinner is prepared by my wife. After having dinner at 9 p.m., I watch t.v. till 10:30. At 11 p.m., we sleep.

The rising sun fills my soul with joy. When I have time to take a morning walk, I become reflective. One is surprised that the Indian government did not have absolutely any drug policy until 1987. There is merely an Act in a document which enumerated drugs that could be sold. There is no control of the price of medicines. In 1987, drug price control order was jointly opposed by domestic-foreign, national-multinational drug manufacturing companies. Due to companies' opposition, in 1987, the order covered only 260 medicines. And because of a review that takes place every two years, today merely 80 medicines are covered under the Act. And, do you know what the order says? The printed price of the medicine can be anywhere from 50 to 500% more than the production costs!
Costs = the real cost of the production of the drug + expenses on research + expenses on patent + expenses on brand name.
The difference between a generic name and brand name is itself a wonder. For a fever, the price of a Paractoml medicine is .16 paise. Paractmol is the generic name of the medicine. This Paractmol tablet in its brand name form of Crocin is 56 paise! Propogators of brand-names- film stars, cricket stars- such tactics are very costly for the public.

Production is production. Let's see distribution also. 15 years ago or earlier, company representatives used to give samples to doctors whose evaluation served as the basis for the sale of the medicine. Now, medical representatives do not distribute the samples of medicines. Rather, they manage doctors...If you want a car, get so many lakhs medicine sold, for foreign tour, get so much medicine sold, mobile and expenses, cash! The sponsors of doctors' conferences are drug companies. And, besides companies giving doctors' food and drinks, some doctors arrangements are also made. As a result, 40 to 50% of medicines that private or motivated gov't doctors prescribe are not required for treatment. Half of the medicines given to patients are unnecessary! You'll also be surprised by this- one-thousand patent medicines are available in wholesale at one-third of the price printed on them. I'm not talking about sub-standard or local medicines. Even after supply at one-third of the printed price, patent drug manufacturing companies are ready to give commission for obtaining orders for them! Looting the public's pockets...And free healthcare when the European Union has given the Haryana gov't 20 crore rupees to demolish the very concept of free healthcare. Produce the sentiment that people should pay for their own treatment. Nothing is free, we will have to pay even to die...

Why do we have diseases? Attention is not being paid to this, attention is only on treatment...On the pocket. When I look at technology, computers, then adequate medical arrangements and healthcare seems possible for everyone. But when I look at the social system then...Even then, my desire for improvement does not die. People are not able to live peacefully. Even so, for people to die in peace, I am ready to cooperate with today's helmsmen and to bear their farcical tactics.