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    Posted on 26 July 2012

    Fear of a dead future haunts Manesar

    Local village economy has suffered a huge blow after the labour-management dispute at the Maruti plant in Manesar, writes Soumik Mukherjee

    Photo: Soumik Mukherjee

    Aliyar village is situated opposite the Maruti plant in Manesar, and is home to almost a third of the workers from the plant. The workers, who are from other districts of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, lived in rented homes in nearby villages such as Aliyar, Dhana, Khor and Nakhrol. After the 18 July incident, which vanadalised the factory and left one dead, most workers have fled their homes. The once bustling Aliyar market has since fallen silent in the Industrial Model Town (IMT) in Manesar.

    The local economy that depends on the workers has come to a sudden halt after the mass exodus. Samundar Pehelwan, who owns a two-storey house in Dhana village, had rented out rooms to plant workers at the rate of Rs 2000 per month. “Now, most of the rooms are lying empty and there is no sign of anyone returning soon,” says Samundar. He is one of the villagers, who had convened a mahapanchayat at Dhana village, to seek a solution to the recurring labour-management disputes at the Maruti plant.

    Villagers, during the mahapanchayat, unanimously criticised the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union and condemned the violence that led to the killing of Awanish Kumar Dev, the general manger of the human resource department, at the Manesar plant. At the mahapanchayat, villagers proposed an independent body consisting of local villagers to mediate between the company and the workers. At the same time, they called for an ousting of all the existing labour unions.

    “These stands had to be taken to save ourselves,” says Aliyar sarpanch Sawant Singh, pointing at the empty market. “Livelihood of the entire village depends on the plant workers as families earn from either renting out their houses or from running small shops frequented by the workers,” he adds.

    The indefinite shut down of the Maruti plant has engineered another crisis. The ancillary plants have also taken a hit since operations at the Maruti plant shut down. “We have cut down our production and now most of the workers are doing four-hour shifts instead of their usual eight-hour shifts,” informs a human resource manager at a spare parts company that supplies axels for Maruti cars.

    The production cut down at the ancillary plants has deepened the crisis in Manesar. The workers of these units are also leaving town as they are out of work. “I will move out very soon to look for a better job because after the Maruti shutdown our plant that supplied spare parts to Maruti has cut down on production. Now I work two hours a day and get Rs 2000 a month, which is not enough to survive,” says Deepak, who came from Patna in 2010 and works at one of these ancillary plants.

    Locals also invested huge amounts of money in the construction of new houses for rent purposes, but the incident has made them stop construction. They are now worried about the money they invested in construction.

    “The money we acquired as compensation for land has been invested in these houses, now if the plant shuts down we will be left with nothing,” says Prakash Singh, who was building another one.

    Even though Maruti officials denied closing down their operations at Manesar, locals, however, are not fully convinced and believe that they will not find new tenants as long as the Maruti plant remains shut down.

    Soumik Mukherjee is a Photo Correspondent with Tehelka.
    [email protected]

    SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
    Posted on 26 July 2012



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