A thousand angry men

Heena Khan New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

A security staff walks past striking workers at Maruiti Suzuki's Manesar plant on Tuesday. -- Photo: Kamal Narang   -  Business Line

“There's one thing we've got in this country and that's ways of fighting back” – Kayo Dugans' famous line from the Hollywood film, On the Waterfront, continues to personify itself for the eleventh day now at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant.

It captures the mood at the plant, where 2,500 protesting workers are camping inside the factory premises since the strike began on June 4. They told Business Line that all they were demanding was their legal right to form a Union and re-instatement of 11 sacked colleagues who conceptualised the demand for a union.

As of now, there is no water supply at the Manesar plant, and only one toilet is open for use by 2,500 workers. The workers have not changed their clothes for the past 10 days.

Lakshman rekha

“Now we will give in only when our demands are met or we will die at this very plant”, said Sonu Kumar, President of the proposed union.

The management has drawn a Lakshman rekha outside the plant, beyond which the media is not allowed.

However, none of this seems to have dampened the workers' mood. “The morale is high. These are all young, skilled workers. All they want is to live and work with dignity,” said an AITUC leader, who is supporting the strike.

But, will this battle for a basic right lead to restructuring of labour relations, at least in this industrial belt? It remains to be seen which side the pendulum will swing. For now, the struggle is on.

Published on June 14, 2011

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