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Manesar union leaders' suspension: Conflict with management 'simmers' despite talks

By Harsh Thakor* 

The Belsonica Company, which manufactures auto parts in Manesar, Haryana, suspended three office bearers of the labour union a few days. The management, which took this extreme step, is being accused of adopting it as a strategy to terrorise workers from asserting their rights or organising themselves.
The trade union attached with the company has appealed to all democratic forces to vehemently condemn the move and solidarise with the suspended leaders. The act is manifestation of the autocratic nature of the pro-coporate social order as a whole, it said.
On March 17, Mohinder Kapoor, President of the Belsonica Mazdoor Union, General Secretary Ajit Singh and Organization Secretary Sunil Kumar, were given a written notice of suspension at around 12 noon. Police force was deployed at the factory when the management suspended the three union office bearers.
Mohinder Kapoor stated that the management prevented the three suspended union officials from stepping foot into the factory. On March 17th “B” shift buses were stopped at the initial bus stop itself. The workers of “B” shift were sought to be brought in when the workers of “A” shift were dropped at their destination after the discharge of “A” shift.
He said, the management illegally obstructed the three suspended union officials from stepping inside the factory in the morning again on March 18 for “A” shift. The buses by which these office bearers travel to the company were not allowed to ply until they were dropped.
However, receiving support from worker colleagues, two of the three office bearers reached the factory by the company bus. General Secretary Ajit Singh reached the company gate from his personal place. Thereafter, the police force deployed in the factory premises prevented all three from going inside.
T policemen present at the plant prevented the union officials to enter because they were suspended from the company. In response, the union members affirmed that they have not been expelled from the union. That's the reason that they cannot be obstructed from going to the union office.
Meanwhile, the management locked all the gates of the company. Because of this, three office bearers of Maruti Sangharsh Mazdoor Sangathan of Maruti Plant, who had come to meet the members of the Belsonica union, were also prevented from stepping in the plant.
Before the Holi holidays, the Belsonica management began to scrutinise each worker’s home verification in order to ascertain whether it was in the based on fake documents. The union, began tool down protest started from 7:30 am in the “A” shift. After the mutual consent of the union and the workers, at 2:00 pm, after ending the tool down, they began to work again.
According to the union, management has recruited a large number of contract workers to displace permanent workers. Many bouncers have also been recruited by the company to scare protesting workers amidst apprehensions that the Belsonica management would lay off a large number of permanent and old contract workers from the factory.
The conflict between the Belsonica union and the management is simmering at a boiling point, though negotiations are proceeding between the Belsonica union and the management under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Labour Commissioner. 
Talks were held between the Belsonica Union and the Belsonica Management on March 3, 13 and 15 in the presence of the Assistant Labour Commissioner. Both the parties were instructed to preserve the status quo and maintain peace inside the plant and the next resolution talks were called on March 20, 2023.
The union said, the intention of the Belsonica management is to lay off permanent workers, warning, it will not allow the management to succeed in such retrenchment.
Meanwhile, the wives of the suspended union leaders have come down heavily of the management. Monika affirmed that her husband Ajit Singh as a revolutionary leader had supported the workers in every juncture and considered their every problem as his own. She asserted that suspending permanent workers without any prior intimation shows the autocratic attitude of the management.
She stated that she has two children, both of whom study in a private school. However, after the suspension of her husband, the family has been forced to reconsider how the children should be taught in a private school or should be admitted to a government school.
According to the union, management has recruited a large number of contract workers to displace permanent workers
On March 22, 2023, a militant procession and protest was organized in front of the Gurgaon DC office by the relatives of the Belsonika workers and the Progressive Women's Unity Centre.
Union Secretary Sunil Kumar's wife Deepika, 7 months pregnant, stated that awarding sudden suspension without any valid reason is completely illegal. She narrated the sheer misery of her life with her family in a rented house in Manesar. Her three-year-old son is in need of admission in nursery this year.
Apart from this, Sunil Kumar has to pay loan of up to Rs 20,000 every month. The sudden suspension has placed an additional load on the family. She demanded that the management should abolish the contractual practice and immediately re instate all the workers who have been dismissed or suspended.
Reena, wife of Mohinder Kapoor, head of the Belsonica union, said that after working in the Belsonica company for the last 15 years, if the workers are suspended without informing them, their families would have to face a host of problems.
She described how inflation is skyrocketing. She referred to the fact that the gas cylinder itself costs Rs 1,100, and the Belsonica management has suspended the labourers in a situation when everyone has to bear task of paying the fees for the admission of the children in the new class, besides buying new books.
She stated that as per the rules of the Belsonica management, the suspended workers would have to be paid half of their monthly salary for the next three months. Still it would be difficult to cover even the fixed expenses that incur every month.
She demanded that the Belsonica management immediately eradicate the practice of hiring cheap and unskilled contract workers in place of permanent workers, re-instate all the workers who were fired on basis of internal investigation, and revoke the suspension of three union officials and call them back to work.
Farmers’ organisations have voiced support to the Belsonica workers. Dr Darshan Pal, member of the Krantikari Kisan Union (KKU), has offered to support the demonstrations staged in support of the suspended office bearers of the Belsonica union. Heasserted all the suspended officials should be reinstated to the job immediately. The ongoing contract practice in the company should be stopped.
Ravi Azad, a member of the United Kisan Morcha Haryana, through his YouTube channel, demanded immediate reinstatement of the suspended office bearers of the Belsonica union. Azad saidm the authoritarian approach of the Belsonica management towards the workers should stop.
---
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India. Thanks to Sashikala Singh for information of response from wives

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