Assault of Honda Workers Condemned

PRESS STATEMENT: 27th July 2005


July 27, 2005 (New Delhi): Coming together under the banner of Honda Mazdoor Ekjudta Committee, Delhi based trade unions, democratic rights organizations, women's groups, student bodies, and other individuals strongly condemned the brutal attack on protesting workers and their families of Honda Motorcycles And Scooters India Pvt. Ltd by the police in Gurgaon, Haryana on 25th and 26th July.

Police Impunity

Members of the Solidarity committee who had visited the Gurgaon Civil Hospital on 26th July were witness to the state and police high handedness on workers and family member of the workers who were injured during the police lathi charge on 25th July. “The impunity with which the state and the police is violently repressing the protesting workers and their families is shocking. Even the presence of the national media and eminent personalities at the civil hospital did not deter the police from aggressively attacking the workers and their families looking for their relatives and co-workers in the hospital”, said Vrinda Grover, Supreme Court lawyer and member of the Solidarity Committee, who was part of the team which visited the hospital.

During its visit to the Civil Hospital and interview with the workers and their familes, the Solidarity Committee team found out the following facts:
  • large number of injured workers, including leaders of the new formed worker’s union-Honda Motorcycles and Scooters Employee’s Union (registered on 29th May 2005) were missing from the hospital and the local police stations
  • inadequate medical attention to the injured workers who have sustained severe head injuries and fractures
  • lack of any cooperation from the local administration and the police;-continued police aggression on the protesting workersand their families

Petitioning the NHRC

Based on its eyewitness account, members of the Solidarity Committee had petitioned the National Human Rights Commission demanding NHRC to constitute its own enquiry committee into the incident; release all injured workers and withdraw charges against them; provide adequate medical treatment to injured workers: suspension of police officers involved in the grievous assault on workers, appropriate compensation to be paid to injured workers.

Malpractices of the Honda management

On 27th June 2005, the company declared an illegal lockout and asked the workers to sign an undertaking where they were asked not to engage in any form of union formation, strike or collective bargaining. “This kind of corporate malpractice is absolutely unconstitutional as per the Indian labour laws and impinges upon the fundamental rights of the workers to organize and protest”, said Nagraj Adve of Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights. The company had asked the workers to sign this “unconstitutional document” if they wanted to get back their jobs. Even while the workers were on strike, on 23rd July the company made more than 2000 workers sign a “good conduct” undertaking which asked them to not to indulge in any “misconduct” and meet full “production target”.

Worker’s agitation

The incidents of 25th and 26th July which led to the protests by the workers echoes the longstanding discontent amongst the workers over issues of union formation, wages, unethical practices within the factory, disrespect towards women and certain section of workers, maltreatment of workers by Japanese employees. “Workers alleged that in December 2004, a Japanese staff of the management kicked a worker in the factory. This led to an agitation by the workers and finally the person concerned was pressurized to tender an apology to the worker”, said Sukhbir of Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, a member of the team.

Development vs labour rights

Incidentally, the whole of Maneswar industrial area in Haryana has over the last fours years seen an unprecedented number of Foreign Direct Investments from the automobile industry, specially from the Japanese companies. “This kind of state-police repression should be seen in the light of the foreign investments and development plans of the government which is trying to send out a clear message that any form of protests or rights issues raised by the working class would be met with severe repression and brutality”, added Lalit Batra of Hazards Centre.

Members of Honda Mazdoor Ekjudta Committee also strongly condemn the statement made by the Japanese envoy Mr Yasukuni Enoki reported in the media about the incident where he refers to the worker’s protest as “a disadvantage for India’s image as an FDI destination and also a negative image on Japanese management”. “Instead of asking its companies to respect the labour laws of India and investigate the malpractices of the company in Gurgaon, its shameful that the Japanese government conniving with its corporation is trying to pressurise the Indian government to unleash brutal repression on its own citizens,” said members of the Solidarity Committee.

“Its quite evident from the unfolding events of the past few days and recent statements of the government that they are clearing buckling under the pressure of the Japanese government and corporations.”

Besides the Delhi based groups, struggle and people’s movement groups, trade unions from across the country have extended their support to the Honda workers. They include Bhopal Gas Peedit MahilaStationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Bhopal ki Aawaaz, National Alliance for People’s Movement-Gujarat, Jyoti Karmchari Mandal (Vadodara), Vadodara Kamdar Union (Vadodara), Sahiyar Stree Sangthan(Vadodara), Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (Vadodara).

Press statement issued by Honda Mazdoor Ekjudta Committee (Aman Trust, Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights, Lok Raj Sangathan, Progressive Students' Union, Revolutionary Democratic Front, The Other Media, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, Communist Party of India, Hazard Centre, Communist Party of India-ML, Communist Gadar Party of India, Manipur Student Association)

Contact: Pravin Ramteke (9871955730); Ranjana Padhi ; Madhumita Dutta ; Nagraj Adve ; D Leena Address: A 1/125 (FF), Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029

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