Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Practicality in these Times

(New Series No. 291, September 2012)

*Waking up a three/four/five years old at 5/6/7’o clock in the morning. Forcing the child to defecate when neither body nor soul is willing. Forcing the child eat even if she or he is unwilling. Washing the sleeping child’s face. Forcing the unwilling child into a uniform. To be practical, parents suppress their own desires and their child’s childhood. In order to keep them practical, schools teach children how to sit still – they destroy childhood.

*To be practical in our times one has to accept a habitation made of cement, steel and paint. Practicality demands roads outside. Electricity within. Children long for mud and sand. They long to run and jump around. To bring up a child properly, 50 people of varying ages are required but only one or two or three or four are available. So practicality requires that a child be checked at each step, at all times. Practicality is transforming each child into a bomb.

*For a bright future, practicality requires that the child be sent to school. A good school is that whose students fetch a good price in the market. A good school is an expensive school. Practicality asks us to choose between a good and a not-so-good school. Whether it be a better or a worse school, post-school tuitions are accepted practice. The child is able to spend little time with grandparents. It is in the nature of schools to break down relations between generations. Practicality requires the mushrooming of old-age homes. The elderly waiting to meet their death.

*A society characterized by hierarchy, market-and-money, and a wage-slavery requires everyone to be both cunning and intelligent. Especially in youth, practicality requires the ability to sell oneself –to hide anger behind an ever smiling face. The intense and turbulent reality of market-and-money shapes the practicality of everyday relations. To live up to our images, constantly trying to hide our reality produces shallow-superficial-temporary relationships.
Can there be a practice of life different from the practical life in a hierarchic, commericalised, monetised, wage-labour based society that we described above?

Straight-forward, simple, truthful behaviour is impractical in our times. Deep, long-term relationships are today impractical.

What one does to become a wage-worker, to remain a wage-worker is practical. Not to have wage-workers, to end wage-slavery is impractical.

To challenge hierarchy, market-and-money, and wage-slavery is definitely impractical. However, it is an expression of the life-force, of life itself. The growing impracticalities throughout the world today are increasingly challenging the practicalities.

As an example, let us take a look at a beautiful expression of impracticality in the activities of the Maruti Suzuki workers from June 2011 to July 18, 2012.

*On June 4, 2011 the workers of the A & B shifts got together to remove the company's and the state's control over the factory. Forming networks and chains, the workers established their own control. Production stopped, and permanent workers, trainees, apprentices, contractual workers interacted among themselves with a new intensity. The company got cold feet and the government stood aghast at the workers' impracticality. The practical people in support of the company and the state were joined by the pro-workers practical people calling to normalize the situation. The normal situation meant resuming production, making cars. To be practical means exchange, measurement and bargaining. The workers continued to remain impractical; they remained so for 13 days. The workers were treading an unfamiliar path. The practical side became dominant because this unfamiliar path could not acquire a definite form and production restarted in the factory after the negotiations.

*The management is very practical, but the presence of impracticality is always felt among the workers. Standing up for contractual workers, in July the permanent workers gave another proof of their impracticality. The company made preparations and wove a net to force practicality down the workers’ throats. They surreptitiously brought new recruits. At night on Sunday, August 28, 400 policemen and management staff were sent in to fire the brahmastra of expulsion, suspension and signing of a good conduct bond on the workers who reported on the 29th morning. Workers were outside the factory. The police, management staff and new workers were inside. If, on the one hand, there were attempts to restart production in the factory, on the other, the association between permanent workers, contractual workers, trainees and apprentices strengthened. Three thousand workers organized themselves. Whenever the impracticality of workers manifests itself, pro-worker, yet practical people and organizations become hyperactive, trying to teach practicality to workers. The Company was overconfident because it was playing a tactic that has been tested many times in Mumbai, Faridabad, Gurgaon etc. Remaining limited to the Maruti Suzuki factory in Manesar was weakening them. Yet the young workers seemed capable of prolonging the conflict for quite some time – this once again brought in the practical people from both sides to exert their pressure. In order to make workers relearn the lessons of practicality, a new agreement was signed on September 30.

*The new workers recruited in September continued to remain in the factory. After the agreement, leaving 44 expelled workers, permanent workers, trainees and apprentices reentered the factory. But 1200-1500 contractual workers were not allowed inside by the company. The management was ready to break the networks that had formed among workers and to replicate a strategy that had worked successfully in 2005 in the Honda Motorcycle and Scooters Company – the permanent, trainee and contract workers had waged a united struggle in Honda, yet the management took back the permanent workers, but retrenched all the existing contract workers, employing new ones in their place, and stopped keeping trainees altogether.

The impracticality of the workers reasserted itself on October 7. Including the Maruti Suzuki plants, workers liberated eleven factories in the Industrial Model Town of Manesar from the control of the management and the state. The forces of practicality pushed themselves in through all kinds of measures. On the 8th, workers removed their control over seven factories which the companies recaptured. October 8th onwards, the struggle was now limited now to four factories of the Suzuki group. The workers' control started acceding to practicality. Yet in the words of one worker:
“The time we spent in the Maruti Suzuki factory between the 7th and the 14th of October was very good. No tension regarding work or travel. No anxiety to catch a bus. No worries about cooking. No more trouble about when to eat our meals. No need to count days in the week or to keep track of the date. There were many intimate conversations. We had never been as close to each other as we came in those seven days.”
*The practicality of the state and management took a step back and made concessions to the impracticality of the workers. A third agreement was signed on October 19th. Contract workers returned to the factory. And also, the time for assembling a car was increased from 45 seconds to a minute.

*Practicality started designing a new ploy. Three workers of Suzuki Powertrain had played a key role in forming links with the workers of Maruti Suzuki Manesar in the month of October. Because these three workers had taken a strong stand against the state and the company, and the October 19 Maruti Suzuki agreements, they had to be sidelined to finally clinch the agreement on October 21. The three protesting workers were suspended, and in order to establish the ones who had put down their signatures, a three-year agreement was reached between the Powertrain management and the union. Regaining confidence in their control, the management finally fired these three workers on the 17th of April, 2012, while those who were involved in the agreements maintained order among the workers. Then the bosses decided to merge Suzuki Powertrain and the Maruti Suzuki companies – this was done in order to weaken the specific rebellious workers. By keeping those who were brought in the factory in September 2011 and by starting a B-Plant, the bosses had already weakened the strength of these workers. By registering and recognizing the union, the management had already made a solid arrangement to create a rift between the permanent and other workers. By provoking and fomenting managed explosions, the bosses were on the way to reestablish practicality among workers.

*Of course, the concessions gave some reliefs too, but nothing much really changed in their lives. However, Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers had the determination to change their lives, make them better. Despite concessions on the company’s part, the lives of Maruti Suzuki Manesar workers remained the lives of workers, unbearable as ever. And so on July 18 2012, the workers targeted two symbols of the status quo – the factory and its management.

*The impracticality of past generations brought many significant junctures in the social process. If one were to speak of workers, then in 1871, in France, workers established the Paris Commune – the army, police and judiciary were dissolved, the jails were torn down, and the workers were up in arms. The supporters of hierarchy, market-and-money and wage-slavery did destroy the Paris Commune by massacring thousands of workers, yet the Paris Commune continues to show the way today. In 1905, in Russia, impractical workers did step forward on the path of the Paris Commune by constituting the Soviets, and suffered much violence. The Soviets emerged once again in 1917. In October 1917, dissolving the army, the police, the courts and the jails, the general workers took up arms and the Soviets became the harbingers of a new society. But due to adverse conditions, practicality reared its head once again and a standing army by the name of the “Red Army” was reestablished in 1918. The establishment of an army and increase in its strength implied a decline in the power of the workers’ soviets. Instead of being destroyed altogether, the Soviets were made powerless; they existed as a smokescreen that contributed to the maintenance of hierarchy, market-and-money and the system of wages.

We find ourselves surrounded by the circumstances similar to those of July 18 at Maruti Suzuki Manesar and increasingly so. The same situation is found the world over and increasingly so. Can there be anything more satisfying for us in our struggle against hierarchy, market-and-money and wage-slavery, and for a new social order? We are face-to-face with destruction, the end, and a new beginning – can there be a better present, a better near future for humanity?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.
To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.
The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.
But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.
There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.


Some excerpts from an account by a worker in an American nursing home and her efforts at organizing. Read the full account here.

"We, the CNAs, are people displaced, moving, in many ways forced, from our home cities, farmlands, families, into this nursing home, a job that falls short of our American dream. Divided by our languages and backgrounds, Filipino, Ethiopian, Chinese, Eritrean, African American, white American, we seek some temporary moments of cohesion and solidarity with each other. Top down, the bosses maneuver our alliances by threatening, coercing and scaring us, splitting us into neat separate blocks of yellow, black, brown, white. They stuff us into our allocated slots so our interactions are saturated with tension and stress. In spite of them, we edge closer, out of place. Their reaction is immediate. As soon as we come together, they try to tear us apart...

We cross paths in the nursing home, an environment built for the outcasts. Mass-produced meals, mass-produced standards, mass-produced workers dying on America’s scrap heap. In this mess, we all lose some aspects of who we are. Perhaps by uniting on stolen time, we can regain what we involuntarily lost."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


For the past few months, FMS has been holding monthly baithaks on the last Sunday of each month to encourage discussions and exchanges.
JOIN US this Sunday JULY 29 beginning at 9 a.m.
*A Goodyear Worker will share his experiences

*Friends from Hissar will talk about the anti-nuclear struggle in Fatehabad. Read more about it here.

*Reflections on the developments at the Maruti plant in IMT-Manesar. Kiya-karvaya-kya karna. What was done, what was manufactured, what is to be done.

All are welcomed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


For those who read Hindi, click here for more fms accounts and diaries of the Maruti struggle.

And click here for FMS experiences from 1975 put forth at a Radical Notes meeting in May 2012.

If you have the capacity to translate either document from Hindi to English, let us know!

Friday, April 27, 2012


(New Series No. 286, April 2012)

In Faridabad Sector 24, Plant 265, in the factory of Lakhani Vardaan Group, at the beginning of the shift at 8 a.m., the siren sounds. For the worker's lunch, the siren rings at 12, 12:30, 1:30, 2 'o clock. One day the siren sounded at 2:30 p.m. What happened? What happened? The supervisor and manager told everyone to go to the HR Department. The supervisor, manager, and the workers gathered together. Discussion amongst 1,500 to 2,000 boys and girls. Uproar, noise. Speech of the General Manager. Trouble with the microphone. Because of the noise, it was difficult to listen carefully. A speech about saving oneself from the fire.

After showing the cylinder, the fire officer asked, "Do you know what type of gas is in this?" No worker responded. The officer said, "There is Co2 gas in this. Whether the fire breaks out because because of electricity, or whether it breaks out because of petrol or thinner, this can put out the fire. Whether the fire is in clothes or in rubber, this can put it out. How do you work this cylinder?...If the siren ever sounds in the factory, then immediately stop your work, run towards the open area and gather together." The meeting lasted an hour.

The next day around 10 o'clock the siren sounded abruptly. It seemed like a fire has broken out. Stopping all work, the workers fled outside. Male and female workers gathered by the HR Department. They looked around. There was no smoke in sight...And the workers started to yell loudly, "Give us our wages! Give us our wages!"

Upon the sounding of the siren, the Supervisor, Manager, and the General Manager also came outside. GM called Security. Security arrived. The HR folks said to the workers, "A fire has not broken out anywhere. Return to your work."

The officer who gave out wages, and who is usually arrogant, spoke with fear, "Go-go, leave-leave. There is no fire here."

The voices of male and female workers, "Give us our wages! Give us our wages!"

The General Manager went to the HR Department and said, "The money will come. You will get it by evening. Go do your work. The siren is broken. There is no fire anywhere."

Wages were not given by that evening. The next day workers stopped working from 12 p.m and did not work until 4:30 p.m. that day. Wages were still not given. The next day workers stopped working from 10 a.m. and did not work until 4:30 that day. Wages were not still given. On the fourth day, the management distributed wages early in the morning.

In Lakhani Vardaan Group factory workers work for 37 to 40 days and still do not receive their wages for the previous 30 days. The siren incident occurred around December 2011.

In Plant 265, Sector 24, February wages were supposed to be given on 18 March, but workers had not received anything by the 22nd. On the 22nd and the 23rd, they slowed down production and on the 24th they stopped working altogether. They stopped work on the 26th and 27th. On 28th morning, Management distributed wages. In this factory, Puma, Kejuan, Pais shoes-sandals are made.

When management did not give wages on Holi and instead gave advances, then 300 workers in the mixing department of Lakhani Rubber Group (Plant 131, Sector 24) stopped working. On March 7, February wages were given. Wages in other departments in the factory were still being withheld.

Monday, March 5, 2012


The first necessity for collective steps is to create opportunities for coming together.

More Gup-Shup
11 a.m. onwards...

To contribute to radical social transformations that are mushrooming all over the world, feel free about: stammering, fragmentariness, incoherence, missing steps... Social (and natural) reality are very complex and dynamic.

Leaps in interactions amongst seven billion human beings are on our agenda.

It is only in the present that we can act/prepare to act. What to do and what not to do, how to do and how not to do are coloured by the different facets/sectionalities in the present and also carry deep imprints of the past (not only near and distant past but also different pasts of different locations/groups).

So a request: Try not to be polemical; try not to attempt to clinch arguments; try to respect your own selves (by implication you will respect those around you).

Primarily it is to act, it is for better actions that this gup-shup is premised on.

"Cataclysmic event" language and imagery seems problematic; languages and imageries that are premised on active participations of seven billion human beings are indispensable for radical social transformations.

Conversation will be in both Hindi and English.

Join us.

Friday, February 24, 2012


(New Series No. 264)

February 2012

Instead of saying that “Workers have occupied the factory,” it should be said that “Workers have removed the company and the government's occupation of the factory”: From June 4 to June 16, 2011, what workers did in the Maruti Suzuki Manesar factory is very significant. Then from October 7, what the workers did in Maruti Suzuki, Suzuki Engine, Suzuki Casting, Suzuki Motorcycle, Satyam Auto, Bajaj Motor, Endurance, Highlex, Lumex, Lumex D, Degania factories is even more significant. This is not a matter of populist rights. This was also not a strike. In Majdoor Samachar, we called it a worker's occupation of the factory. But to call what the workers did between June to October 2011 in IMT Manesar an occupation devalues its significance. And then to use the term “occupy” takes us in the wrong direction.

Our hierarchical, poor-rich, weak-strong, stratified society functions on the basis of occupations. Nowadays, companies and government are bent on not only occupying the earth but each thing, they are even competing with one another to occupy outer space. We want to remove the occupations over each thing. Occupation of cow, occupation of the bodies of humans, occupation of the earth, occupation of homes, occupation of water- occupation of the heart and mind... The ambition of occupation takes us to the edge of destruction. In this way, to term what workers did in IMT Manesar as occupation is to negate its essence and tantamount to crushing its possibilities. Maruti worker's discussions and reflections reveal that during October 7 to 14th when the company and government did not have control over the factory workers experienced life's happiness in a way that they had not even dreamt of before. That is why what IMT Manesar workers did is a starting point for the “removal of occupation.” In this context, the Occupy movement in America is actually about the push to remove factory and government occupations and it is because of this meaning that it is significant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

fms Feb 2012

fms Feb 2012 by baatein1 on Scribd


View the full schedule of Lecture and Workshop Tour in February 2012

To contribute to radical social transformations that are mushrooming all over the world, feel free about : stammering, fragmentariness, incoherence, missing steps..... Social (and natural) reality are very complex and dynamic. Leaps in interactions amongst seven billion human beings are on our agenda.

It is only in the present that we can act/prepare to act. What to do and what not to do, how to do and how not to do are coloured by the different facets/ sectionalities in the present and also carry deep imprints of the past (not only near and distant past but also different pasts of different locations/groups). So a request: Try not to be polemical; try not to attempt to clinch arguments; try to respect your own selves (by implication you will respect those around you). Primarily it is to act, it is for better actions that this gup-shup is premised on. "Cataclysmic event" language and imagery seems problematic; languages and imageries that are premised on active participations of seven billion human beings are indispensable for radical social transformations.

A technical constraint in the gup-shup is that we will be using mostly English language.

Some Statements Etcetera

* Small groupings of human beings called birth a shaap (curse) or the fall. Half of their numbers, females were described as sin personified. What was tragic for small groupings is today a tragedy for all human beings, for all living species, for the earth.

* It does not seem that something had to happen, rather possibilities and probabilities seems to be the norm. But, once a possibility gets concretized, it has a dynamic and trajectory specific to it.

* Relationship between a part and the (immediate) whole. Harmony and conflict between parts and the whole seem to be the norm. Small groupings of human beings embarked on a trajectory wherein the part attempts to control, dominate, mould the whole. Other-ing unleashed - series of "the other - others.".

* Domestication of animals led to the domestication of human beings, slave owners and slaves.

* Deformation of communities, emergence of "I" with men as its official bearers. Man woman relations become very problematic. Today, by and large, women and children are also bearers of "I". "Who am I?" has become a universal question.

* Certainty of death after birth becomes unbearable for any "I". Attempts at immortality. Search for amrit (the nectar of life). Philosophies of rebirth, heavan, hell. Theories of lineage. Tragedies of Alexanders - great thinkers, great warriors, great artists, great sportspersons, great performers, great leaders.....

* From "who am I?", we have entered a phase where there are many an "I" in each "I". In the process of transcending "I" we seem to have come to the era of ekmev (unique) and ekmaya (together).

* Discriminations became rampant amongst human beings. It was a corollary of othering and dominating - controlling - moulding. All discriminations must be opposed. The question is: How? Discriminations are a breeding ground for all sorts of identity politics. An exemplary end-result is the constitution of the state of Israel. This is how discriminations are not to be opposed. The ways of opposing discriminations should be such that discrimination as such comes into focus.

* From domestication of animals to agriculture, from slave-owners and slaves to feudal lords and serfs increased the groupings of human beings that led tragic lives. Trade, long distance trade further increased these numbers. But during all this time large groupings of human beings lived in natural surroundings. It is only during the last two hundred years, it is only after steam and coal power was harnessed by human beings that a leap change began. Internal combustion engine, electricity, atomic energy, electronics magnified the leaps in the changes and have brought us face to face with their dire consequences.

* It was production for the market that led the onslaught. Artisans and peasants producing for the market using their own and family labour became redundant. For two hundred years now they are face to face with social death and social murder. Peasants and artisans in their Luddite incarnation in England attacked factories at night. Some of them were gunned down and hanged, many became wage-workers or shopkeepers or social outcastes, beggars etc., and many were forced out to the Americas and Australia. The mass displacements from Europe further increased the genocides in Americas and Australia. A corollary of the inability to tame-domesticate people in America - Australia was the massive increase in slave-trade in Africa, indentured labour in India, for production for the market.

* Steam and coal driven machinery had made large numbers of people in Europe superfluous. The entry of electronics in the production processes has made still more people superfluous..... Its impact on hundreds of millions of peasants, artisans, shopkeepers in Asia, Africa, South America is devastating and at an electronic pace. They have nowhere to go. There are no "empty americas". Desperation borne of social death and social murder of peasants, artisans, shopkeepers is the cause of hundreds of thousands committing suicides and similar numbers taking up arms in various garbs. Napoleon's army is miniscule vis-a-vis the militarization in the world today but it is still too small for the desperate hundreds of millions. So, besides state armies there are mushrooming proto-state armies. Desperations of hundreds of millions of peasants, artisans, shopkeepers is increasing the fragility of state apparatuses. Outside of western Europe, Japan and North America this is a very important social setting for attempts at radical social transformations.

* In the initial stage of production for the market using wage-labour, factories were owned by individuals. The unfolding of the process led to factories being owned by groups of individuals, by a dozen or so stock holders. The requirements for establishing and running a factory soon started demanding the pooling of resources by thousands. Share holding of thousands became the "owner" of the factories. Needs of increasing size and resources made share holding inadequate and loans emerged as the major source of funds for establishment and functioning of factories. Pension funds, insurance funds, bank deposits, financial institutions became de-facto owners of production enterprises with 80-85% of the investment coming from them and about 15% from shares. (A significant portion of shares is also held by these institutions). "Capitalist - personified capital" has given way to boards of directors, chairmen, managing directors, CEO's as "representatives of faceless capital". Being a state enterprise or corporate, company enterprise is not a significant difference. These changes in material production enterprises have by and large been replicated in other spheres of social life, be they be trade, education, entertainment, medical treatment. Craft-artisanal mode gave way to industrial mode and then its dynamics has followed. Factory mode is moulding all spheres of life throughout the world. (In long distance trade, the institutional form of organization, company preceded its emergence in material production.)

* The process of institutionalization has not halted with the dismantling of large factories. Instead of a car factory, we have auto hubs today. What is called a car factory is mainly an assembly plant. A vehicle manufacture today needs production facilities spread over an area with fifty kilometer radius. It requires a hundred thousand plus workforce. And the rapid changes that the institutionalization of research is bringing about makes it increasingly unviable. Today it is only in China that there are a few factories with a hundred thousand plus workers. The entry of electronics in production process started the dismantling of twenty thousand plus workers factories, the "workers fortresses" in the 1980s. With all the confrontations that it engendered, it is more or less over.

* Roots in artisanal guilds provided initial factory workers with trade/craft organizational structures to confront the new situation they found themselves in. These defensive organs of wage-workers were initially illegal. Over time they obtained legal status. They had a leverage vis-a-vis individual owners regarding wages and conditions of work. Emergence of joint stock and then share holding decreased the leverage of trade-craft unions. Their defensive and conservative roles in the changing scenario brought them on the sides of their governments in the mass slaughter during 1914 - 1919. Craft based trade unions were denounced by some radicals in 1919 and instead of trade based unions, factory based unions were attempted as alternative form of workers organisations. We have had some experiences of factory based unions during 1980 - to date. We began looking at industrial unions as workers organisations with misleaders at their helm. In our experience we found factory unions functioning almost like another department of the factory. Managing workers was the job of the unions and good functioning of the factory was seen as good for the workers of that factory. With the introduction of electronics in the production process in factories, from the beginning of 1990s large scale restructuring took place in Faridabad. What was earlier seen largely during long term agreements between managements and unions became blatant in 1990-2000 period. In factories ninety percent plus workers had been permanent. Large scale retrenchment of permanent workers took place in many factories and in most of the cases unions were openly standing with the managements. Engineered strikes and lockouts were the means in these major attacks on factory workers. From these experiences when we look back at the 1982 Bombay textile strike in which 250,000 workers were involved, it seems to us that it was an engineered strike. The composite textile mills with their spinning, weaving, processing, dyeing and printing departments have vanished from Bombay-Mumbai. What would have taken decades if it were slow attrition was done in one blow. The composite textile mills of Indore, Gwalior, Faridabad, Delhi, Hissar, Kanpur, have also vanished. And cloth production in these twenty five years has grown exponentially. In this vein it seems to us that the coal-miners strike in England in 1984-85 was another engineered strike that saw the number of coal miners come down from 100,000 to 10,000. Another example could be the longshoremen strike in the US which resulted in drastic reduction in permanent workers and matched the needs of containerization. Today when we look back, 1980 - 2000 appears ancient to us. Factories in Gaziabad, NOIDA, Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad are largely run by temporary workers. In direct production process five to thirty per cent workers are permanent. In the national capital region in India (and things are not different in other parts) seventy-five to ninety-five percent factory workers are temporary workers. There are factories where not even one worker in 300 is permanent - only the staff has permanent status. And amongst these 80 percent temporary workers, three-fourths are "invisible" workers. Almost 75 percent workers in factories in the NCR do not exist in company and government records, be it garments or auto or pharmaceuticals or chemicals, things are the same. Factory unions, where they exist, have only permanent workers as their members. 90 percent factory workers in the NCR do not fit in the union structure. The increasing number of temporary workers is a global phenomenon.

* Given the changes in the ownership patterns of factories, given the breakup of a product in hundreds of factories, given the composition of factory workforce today, given the existence of industrial areas with thousands of factories, and given the linkages among factories across the globe, co-ordination among workers needs to expand across factories and industrial areas and span the world. New types of activities and new kinds of organisational practices are needed.

* A pointer is the recent occupations of Maruti-Suzuki car factory in Industrial Model Town, Manesar. Inaugurated in February 2007, all the workers in the factory are in their twenties. There are 950 permanent workers, 500 trainees, 200 apprentices, 1200 workers hired through contractors for work in direct production process and around 1500 workers hired through contractors for various auxiliary functions. The pace of work was such that a car was being assembled in 45 seconds. Some permanent workers attempted to organise against the existing union in the company. Strong-arm tactics of the management gave rise to a wildcat occupation of the factory on June 4, 2011. The company and the government were taken aback. The occupation continued for 13 days. During the occupation many bonds developed between the permanent workers, trainees, apprentices and workers hired through contractors. The company was forced to take a step backwards and revoke termination of 11 workers for production to restart. After the occupation there was a dramatic change in the atmosphere in the factory. The company was forced to plan and prepare to re-establish its control on the shop floor. On August 28, a Sunday and a weekly day off, 400 policemen came at night to the factory. Company staff had arrived earlier. With steel sheets, the factory was secured in military fashion. On 29th morning when workers arrived for their 7:00 AM shift, there were notices announcing dismissals, suspensions, and entry premised on signing of good conduct bonds. All the workers stayed out of the factory. This is the chess game well rehearsed by managements to soften workers and re-establish control. The company had gone to distant industrial training institutes and hired hundreds of young boys. Workers from the company's main factory in Gurgaon were also taken to Manesar. Arrangements for their stay inside the factory were made. Already 400 policemen were staying in the factory and large number of guards were hired from Group 4 security company. Staff was made to work in 12 hour shifts with the new workers. Musclemen from surrounding areas were paid to bully workers. Attempts were made to instigate workers to violence. Central trade unions tried to take leadership of the workers. Workers' representatives were called for negotiations and arrested...... The workers refused to be instigated. All kinds of supporters came to the factory gates where the 3000 workers did 12 hour, back to back sit-togethers. Many kinds of discussions took place. Bonding between different categories acquired new dimensions. The workers' refusal to be instigated led the well-rehearsed chess game to a dead end. The company was forced to side-step and sign a new agreement. The permanent workers, trainees and apprentices entered the factory on October 3, but the 1200 workers hired through contractors were not taken back. The company's attempt to divide the workers received a serious thrashing when, on the afternoon of October 7, workers of A and B shift, who were inside, occupied the factory. This time it was not just the occupation of Maruti-Suzuki factory, simultaneously 11 other factories in Industrial Model Town, Manesar, were occupied by workers. "Take back the 1200 workers hired through contractors and revoke the suspension of 44 permanent workers" echoed and re-echoed all around. Again the company and government were taken aback. Despite the presence of 400 policemen and hundreds of other guards, Maruti-Suzuki factory was occupied by workers. The simultaneous occupation of 11 other factories opened up new possibilities with thousands of factories all around. Pressure was applied and occupation of seven factories was called off, but it continued in Suzuki Powertrain, Suzuki Casting, Suzuki Motorcycle factories, besides Maruti-Suzuki. It was only on October 14, after the deployment of additional 4000 policemen, that workers vacated Maruti-Suzuki factory and Suzuki Powertrain was vacated by the 2000 workers when they were surrounded by a police force of 4000 inside the factory. For details, see July 2011 to January 2012 issues of Faridabad Majdoor Samachar (and also the forthcoming February issue).

* The company and the government have not been able to understand the activities of Maruti-Suzuki workers (and other factory workers). Ripples were widespread and the dangers were very visible to the government. A third agreement was forced by the government, with it also becoming a signatory. The 1200 workers hired through contractors were taken back. Not having understood anything of what happened, the company gave significant amount of money to 30 workers it considered troublemakers, for their resignation. (And later propagated the deal as bought-sold.) Production recommenced in the 4 factories on October 22. Afraid of any and everything, the company has been giving concessions to workers. Now instead of 45 seconds, the scheduled time for making a car is one minute.

* Important questions dealing with life, time, relations, representation, articulation, factory life under scrutiny that the occupation of October 7-14 brought to the fore, in the words of a Maruti-Suzuki factory worker, are: "The time in Maruti-Suzuki factory during October 7-14 was extremely good. There was no tension of work. There was no tension of coming to the factory and going back.There was no tension of catching the bus.There was no tension of cooking.There was no tension that food has to be eaten only at 7 o'clock or only at 9 o'clock.There was no tension as to what day or date was that day. Lots of personal conversations took place. We had never come so close to one another as we came in these seven days." From October 7-14 there were 1600 workers inside the Maruti-Suzuki factory, and 1200 outside the factory. When the bought-sold issue of 30 workers made the rounds, a Maruti-Suzuki worker said, "Earlier we used to pass on the issues to the president, general secretary, department co-ordinator - they will tell. But now every worker himself answers. On every issue, everyone gives his opinion. The atmosphere has changed."

* Increase in accumulated labour, exponential increase in accumulated labour has sidelined personified forms and brought the social relation in its faceless form to the fore with presidents, prime ministers, chairmen, managing directors, CEO's as its representatives. In this scenario, person has become increasingly insignificant. Whether a person is or she/he is not has become almost the same. But at the same time, in contentions between accumulated labour (dead labour) and living labour, each person has become increasingly important. Active participation of 90 percent plus of those directly concerned has become indispensable. Representation and delegation have become redundant / counter-productive. Lagta hai ki ekmev aur ekmaya ka yug dastak de raha hai. (It seems that the era of unique and together is knocking at the door.) Radical transformations are demanding the active participation of seven billion people, both as each a unique being and all together.

Sunday, January 1, 2012