Friday, April 6, 2007

Is the ongoing "Development" for WORKERS?

We have been listening that central and state governments of India have implemented different policies for our development. Whatever they do, from acquiring land from people to giving tax holidays to the MNCs and big companies are for our betterment only. This is the popular view and most of us do believe in that as obedient citizen.

Whatever happened in the last couple of months gave the whole country a jolt. Some of us start to doubt this view, which is no doubt very good. We think, this is the best time to examine the whole issue under the light of the real life experiences of common people, the workers and the peasantry. We believe in that ‘gold standard’.

Here we present some experiences from GURGAON. Let us see the condition of workers in GURGAON, the developed India.


The following report is translated from Hindi, published in Faridabad Majdoor Samaachaar (FMS). FMS is a monthly independent workers newspaper, about 5,000 copies are distributed in Faridabad and beyond. The newspaper exists since the early 1980s, it is free. Workers are encouraged to contribute with their thoughts and experiences. If you want to get in touch:
Majdoor Library
Autopin Jhuggi, NIT
Faridabad - 121001

Factory and Police Station
(FMS no.225, March 2007)

MG Export Worker
The factory located on plot 108, sector 24 produces steel and aluminium kitchen utensils and decorative pieces for export. The factory employs 67 people who receive ESI and PF (see Glossary), out of which 20 are staff (see Glossary), the rest permanent (manual) workers. Additionally 235 casual workers (see Glossary) work inside the plant, currently their number is low compared to other times. Even after two or two and a half years of constant employment for the company they remain casual workers, they do not have ESI and PF. MG Export runs two 12-hours shift, but after one day of 12-hour shift the next day you have to work during day and night. The shift would start at 8 am in the morning and end at 4:30 pm the next day. This is a 36 and a half hours shift. When it comes to working-times the company makes no difference between permanent and casual workers. You might be a permanent or a casual, the payment for overtime is only at the normal rate (although legally it should be paid double).
On Sundays the factory is made to seem closed, but actually production is on from 7 am to 3:30 pm. On Sundays workers have to keep their bicycles inside the plant. In sector 24 there are three other factories which appear to be closed at night, but MG Export uses them for night-shift. Workers are sent to night-shift from factory on plot 108 to plot 305, plot 329… In order to hide production there are all kind of legal and illegal papers. Finished products ready for export were first sent to Faridabad sector 59, now they are sent to Daadri in Uttar Pradesh.
MG Export pays the helpers 1,900 Rs per month, the operators get 2,300 Rs (see Glossary). On pay day workers and white-collar workers have to sign unofficial documents. Two or three days after having received the wage people have to sign the official register which says that the wage is according to the minimum wage defined by the Haryana government, which would be 2,485 Rs or more, according to wage category. The overtime is not even documented on the unofficial papers.
On the 15th of Febuary 2007 the chairman and managing director of MG Export were on rounds in the factory from 1 pm to 4 pm. During this time the sahib started to kick a power press worker for a minor fault. In front of all workers the sahib slapped-beat-kicked. The people who started working at 8 am on the 15th of February were supposed to work till 4:30 pm on the 16th. The press operators left the factory on the 15th of February at 8 pm. There are twelve power press machines in the factory and they all stood still from 8 pm to 9:30 pm. The management called workers from the second shift at their homes, but in the night of the 15th only three power press were running.
On the 16th of February the power press operators gathered on a nearby square instead of coming to the factory. The head foreman went there and at 9:30 am the workers were brought back in the factory. The press operators started to work. Three hours later the company called the police inside the plant. Two police men took four workers from the press shop to Mujesar police station. Two workers were sent back to the factory and the other two were told to be charged with theft… Those two police men who had come to the factory had taken twelve metal bowls to the station themselves. One of the workers who was held in the station was the worker who had been beaten by the sahib, the other one was his friend. The police threatened and scared these workers until in the evening they made them sign their resignation from the company and the police asked the company to settle the accounts of the workers. From the final payment the police men took 500 Rs each from the workers.

The laws are for exploitation and there is freedom to exploit beyond the law
(FMS no. 225, March 2007)

The law: wages for a month of work have to be paid by the 7th to 10th of the subsequent month; the daily working-time is eight hours, the maximum overtime allowed is 50 hours in three month; overtime has to be paid by double rate; the minimum monthly wage defined by the government of Haryana for an unskilled helper-worker is: 2, 484.28 Rs; this is based on an eight hours day and four days off per month; the extra dearness allowance DA (see Glossary) for January 2007 has not been announced yet, this is at the beginning of March 2007; the labour department declares that they have not received any information yet about the speech of the Chief Minister announcing the introduction of a minimum wage of 3,510 Rs.

- Essar Steel Worker:
The factory on plot 10 is located in the Industrial Area, it runs two shifts of 12 hours each. The overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers get 1,950 Rs and the operators between 3,500 and 4,000 Rs. The employer does not give ESI and PF.

- CMI Worker: The factory on plot 71 is in sector 6. Now, on 17th of Febuary workers might receive the wages for last December. The production is booming, the permanent workers are forced to work 16 hours. The workers hired through contractors are driven to work 36 to 40 hours at a stretch and often fall ill because of that. The overtime payment is at single rate.

- Mahawir Die Casters Worker:
The factory on plot no.153, located in sector 24 runs two 12 hours shifts, 30 days per month. Overtime is paid at single rate. The helpers hired through conractors get 2,000 Rs per month.

- Galaxsy Instruments Worker:
On plot no.2, sector 27 C, the helpers hired through contractors get 2,100 Rs per month. The shift starts at 8 am and finishs at 5:30 pm. Even the permanent workers do not receive overtime payment for the nine and a half hours shift.

- Inotech Engineering Worker:
12/6 Mathura Road, Gurukul. The wage of the casual workers is 2,400 Rs, there is neither ESI and PF. The shift starts at 8 am and finishes at 10:30 pm. Overtime is paid at single rate.

- Dalaal Auto worker:
Plot no.262, sector 25. The factory runs two 12 hours shift, the overtime is paid at single rate.

- JBM Worker:
Plot no.133, sector 24. Less than 10 per cent of the work-force are permanent workers, more than 90 per cent are hired through three different contractors. The 50 to 60 permanent workers work two shifts of 8:30 hours each. In the filing, welding, cleaning, packing department 200 workers work on one shift, from 7:30 am to 9 pm, sometimes till 10 pm or even 1 am. In the press shop 300 people work and in the axle department 150 workers, on two shifts. From 7:30 am to 7 pm or 8 pm to 6 am. There is work on Sundays, too. Overtime is paid at single rate.

JBM supplies Eicher, Maruti, Hero Honda.

- Sangita Industries Worker:
Plot no.55, Industrial Area. The helpers in the factory get 2,150 Rs, but no ESI or PF. Daily working time is 12 hours. Overtime is paid at single rate. Four to five days wages get siphoned off before wages are paid. If you ask them about it they say that the wage office is in the companies factory in sector 24, “so what could we do about it”. Threatening takes place, but whoever keeps on asking again and again will finally receive their money.

- Venus Metal Industries Worker:
Plot 262, sector 24. Out of the 600 workers employed in the factory ten per cent are permanent, ten per cent are casual and eighty per cent are hired through contractors. In the press shop, the paint shop and the tool room they run two shifts. There is only little overtime. In the welding, assembly and packing department there is only one shift, from 8:30 in the morning to 9 in the night. During the twelve and a half hours shift they would not even give you a cup of tea. Overtime is paid at single rate. There is hardly any space in the factory. In the paint shop there is no exhaust fan and there is no space for putting up a fan. The heat of the paint shop enters the press shop, as well. This condition gets worse during summer. There is no canteen and there is no space to make meals. Venus Metal supplies Maruti, Hero Honda and others.

- Shivalik Global Worker:
12/6 Mathura Road. The workers directly employed by the company received their January wage on 21st and 22nd of February. The workers hired through contractors have not received their January wage, and today is the 24th of February.

- High Tech Worker:
20/6 Mathura Road. Out of the 40 workers directly employed by the company about four or five have ESI and PF. The workers hired through six different contractors have no ESI and PF. Whenever an official comes for inspection to the plant they are pushed outside the factory. The helpers get 2,000 Rs per month. Working-time is 12 hours and overtime is paid at single rate. Per month 100 Rs out of 500 Rs wage is siphoned off. When you leave the job they rarely pay your outstanding wages. The contractors push and threaten and tend to delay the wage payment. The January wage has not been given yet, on 19th of February.

- Escorts Worker:
The permanent workers have received the annual statutory bonus (minimum one month wage) in October on Divali, but after half of February has already passed, the casual workers did not receive it. For any little fault casual workers are kicked out the factory. And in order to get hired the casual workers have to give the company officers a bribe of 500 Rs.

- Vaibav Engineering Worker:
Plot no.63, sector 24. There are eight permanents and 120 casual workers in the plant. The wage of the casual helpers is 1,650 Rs, ESI or PF is not covered. There are two shifts, each twelve hours. Overtime is paid at single rate.

- SPL Worker:
Plot no.47-48, sector 6. The workers employed through contractors get 90 to 115 Rs per twelve hours shift. The wages of January have not been paid yet, on 22nd of February.

- Clutch Auto Worker:
12/4 Mathura Road. The 500 casual workers have not received their January wages, on 20th of February 2007.

- Orient Fan Worker:
Plot no.59, sector 6. On 14th of February in the tool room and press shop factory of the company a manager and supervisor together beat up two casual workers.

- Unique Engineering Worker:
20/3 Mathura Road, Northern Complex, plot no. 5/6. The workers have neither ESI nor PF.


Wages and Prices
Exchange Rate
Minimum Wage
Contract Workers
Casual Workers
Workers hired through contractors

Wages and Prices:

When we hear that a cleaner in a call centre in Gurgaon, an industrial worker in Faridabad or a Riksha-Driver in Delhi earns 2,000 Rs for a 70 hours week, which is about the average normal workers wage, we have to bear in mind that they often came from West Bengal, Bihar or other remote place in order to get this job. In order to put 2,000 Rs into a daily context here are some prices of (daily) goods and services.
- Monthly rent for a small room in Gurgaon (without kitchen), toilet and bathroom shared by five families: 1,300 Rs
- Monthly rent for a small room in new building in central Gurgaon, single toilet and bathroom: 4,500 Rs
- Half a kilo red lentils on the local market: 25 Rs
- Kilo rice on local market: 14 Rs
- Bus ticket to nearest bigger bus stop in South Delhi: 14 Rs
- One hour internet in a cafe: 20 Rs
- Starbucks Coffee in Shopping Mall: 30 Rs
- Faulty shirt on Faridabad local market: 40 Rs
- Single gas cooker plus new 2 litre gas cylinder: 720 Rs
- Second-hand bicycle: 600 to 1,000 Rs
- Two simple steel pots: 250 Rs
- One litre Diesel: 30 Rs
- Start package pre-paid mobile phone (without the phone) 300 Rs
- Phone call to other mobile phones: 1 Rs
- One month mobile phone flate rate: 1,500 Rs
- Compaq LapTop: 50,000 Rs
- Flight Delhi to London: 28,000 Rs
- Ford Fiesta: 587,000 Rs
- Two-Bedroom Appartment in Gurgaon: 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 Rs
- The minimum dowry poor worker have to pay for the marriage of their daughter: 30,000 Rs

Exchange Rate:
1 US-Dollar = 43 Rs (March 2007)
1 Euro = 57 Rs (March 2007)

Minimum Wage:
Offficial minimum wage in Haryana in March 2007 is about 2,500 Rs per month for an unskilled worker, based on a 8 hours day and 4 days off per month.

ESI (Employee’s State Insurance):

Introduced in 1948, meant to secure employee in case of illness, long-term sickness, industrial accidents and to provide medical facilities (ESI Hospitals) to insured people. Officially the law is applicable to Factories employing 10 or more people. Employers would have to contribute with 4.75 percent of the wage paid to the worker, the employee 1.75 percent of their wage. Officially casual workers or workers hired through contractors who work in the factory (even if it is for construction, maintenance or cleaning work on the premises) are entitled to ESI, as well. Self-employment is often used to undermine ESI payment.

PF (Employee’s Provident Fund):

Introduced in 1952, meant to provide a pension to workers. Officially applicable to all companies employing more than 20 people. Official retirement age is 58 years. Given that most of the casual workers belong to the regular work-force of a factory, they are entitled to the Provident Fund, as well. So are workers employed by contractors. If workers receive neither PF nor ESI they also do not show up in the official documents, meaning that officially they do not exist.

DA (Dearness Allowance):
An inflation compensation. Each three to six months the state government checks the general price development and accordingly pays an allowance on top of wages.

VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme):

Often rather unvoluntary scheme to ged rid off permanent workers. Particularly the VRS at Maruti in Gurgaon made this clear, when 35 years old were sent in early retirement.

In India staff includes managers, supervisors, security personnell and white-collar workers.

Contract Workers
Workers hired for a specific performance, paid for the performance.

Casual Workers
Workers hired by the company for a limited period of time.

Workers hired through contractors
Similar to temporary workers, meaning that they work (often for long periods) in one company, but are officially employed by a contractor from whom they also receive their wages. Are supposed to be made permanent after 240 days of continous employment in the company, according to the law. A lot of companies only have a licence for employing workers in auxilliary departments, such as canteen or cleaning. Companies usually find ways to get around these legal restrictions, e.g. workers services are terminated on the 239th day to avoid workers reaching eligibility criteria to become permanent.

Deputy Commissioner, Head of the District Administration

Superintendent of Police, Head of the District Police

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