25,000 workers in Maruti plants boycott lunch – Maruti Case verdict today
25000 workers in several factories (permanent-contract-apprentice as well as safai karamcharis) in Gurgaon-Manesar have boycotted lunch in show of unity and solidarity with the Jailed Maruti Suzuki workers.
The final legal arguments in the Maruti Suzuki workers Trial case concluded on 18 February, 2017 with arguments by Advocates Vrinda Grover, Rebecca John and RS Cheema against the State Prosecution.
The ongoing case, ‘State of Haryana vs Jiyalal & Others’ could see possible convictions for 216 workers today (10th March, 2017) at the Gurgaon Additional District and Sessions Court. Maruti Suzuki workers case (‘State of Haryana vs Jiyalal & Others’) is going on since July 2012. In the meantime, 546 permanent workers and 1800 contract workers have faced terminations (and labour cases). A separate case is on against 111 workers in Kaithal since 2013.
3 strikes had been undertaken in 2011 voicing concerns against exploitive conditions at the factory. Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, Manesar (Reg. No.1923) was formed on 1 March 2012. A ‘Charter of Demands’ was submitted in April that year. It asked for the contract worker system to be done away with, among other demands. The already tense atmosphere was furthered complicated on 18 July 2012, when a clash inside the plant led to the death of an HR manager, Awanish Dev. The postmortem report says Awanish Kumar Dev’s death was due to asphyxiation. The day prior, a worker Jiyalal was suspended from duty after a supervisor attacked him and resorted to casteist abuse.
To date, 147 workers have served jail term without bail for more than 3-and-a-half years. Charges against them include murder, attempt to murder, rioting, looting, setting fire to private property and various Sections of the IPC. At present, 11 workers (members of the then Union Body) are in jail without bail. 66 more workers are charged under a range of non-bailable sections.
A High Court order in May 2013 rejected bail saying, “this is one one of the unfortunate incident that has lowered the reputation of India in the world. Foreign direct investment is likely not to happen due to fear of growing labour unrest”.
Thus far, state expenditure on the case has run into crores of public money. A RTI revealed the government paid Advocate KTS Tulsi R.5.5 crore in only 2 years, a whopping 11 lakh per appearance in the Gurgaon Additional District and Sessions Court. His three assistants recieved payment of Rs. 66000 for each appearance. Clerkage was shown at over Rs. 1 lakh for his expenses for each appearance.