An AIDWA delegation comprising Subhashini Ali (President), Sudha Sundararaman  (Gen. Secy.), Kalindi Deshpande (Vice President) Sehba Farooqui and Usha Rajendar Saroha, (Dist. President) visited the workers of the Honda Factory in Gurgaon who had been badly injured in the   brutal lathi charge by the police on 27th July.  Even 3 days after the event, there were still several workers in the hospital who had suffered head injuries and had fractured limbs.   Most of them were from far-off States like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and, in some cases, their family members had undertaken long and expensive journeys to be with them. There were many Honda workers who were looking after their injured colleagues and the delegation’s talks with them revealed some shocking facts.The need for a union  in the factory was felt when the humiliating and insulting behaviour of members of the management, both Japanese and Indians crossed all limits.  Mr. Haroshi, who was subsequently sent back to Japan, had actually kicked a worker while another Sikh worker had had his turban removed.   The most shocking fact revealed was that the toilets meant for the women employees were often entered by management personnel.  Use of abusive and humiliating language was a common factor.   Many laws were also infringed upon by the management. For example, there were a large number of  temporary and casual workers who were denied permanency; 24% of the workers’ s wages were being cut as PF contribution;   illegal deductions were made from salaries etc.
It was in this context that the workers formed a Union in 2005 which was something that the  management was not prepared to tolerate.  In retaliation, some of the leaders were suspended and when the workers protested, the management locked out the factory illegally towards the end of June.   Since then, the workers have been agitating peacefully.  On the 25th, they walked more than 18 kilometers to hand over a memorandum to the Commissioner and it was then that they had to face the worst kind of police barbarism.   They told us that many of their colleagues who were taken to the Sona Police Station were severely beaten by the police there _ and, when the police were exhausted from beating them, they had them beaten by the people working in the thana.   They also said that many of the injured workers who were not being properly attended to in the Dist. Hospital had gone to private nursing homes for treatment _ something they could ill afford. Not a single officer from the management had bothered to visit the hospital or do anything to help the injured workers.  In fact, the management has withheld the earned wage for the month of June from the workers _ condemning them to starvation and indebtedness.
In the hospital, we met Com. Pathak, a CITU leader and lawyer, who had been brought there from the Bhondsi jail.  He along with Com. Raj Singh, also CITU, have been charged under Sec. 307 and had been jailed.   After the Gurgaon lawyers agitated against this, he was brought to the hospital for treatment because he had been badly injured. He told us that there were many among those in the jail who were suffering from fractures and other injuries.   They were not receiving proper treatment because, in any case, there was only one doctor for the entire jail. The delegation met the Commissioner, Shri Avtar Singh.  They insisted that he should instruct the Jail Supdt. to send all injured workers to the hospital for treatment immediately and he actually did so, mandating that all such workers reach the hospital the same evening.
The delegation also demanded that all those responsible for the police brutality be punished _ not just by being sent on ‘long leave’, that the workers’ earned leave be immediately disbursed; that all criminal cases against the workers be withdrawn; that  the injured workers receive compensation and that the management be pressurized to take all the workers back to work and meet their just demands.

Subhashini Ali, (President) , Sudha Sundararaman  (General Secretary ), Kalindi Deshpande (Vice-President), Pramila Pandhey (Vice-President ), Banani Biswas (Treasurer),  Sehba Farooqui (CEC Member), Usha Saroha  (Dist. President)

{ There is also a more detailed report from a trade unions and civil society fact finding team, which is available with Centre for Education and Communication, Ph: +91-11-29541841. Email: [email protected]}