Proleterians of the world unite!

It was a red letter day last week at a Honda motorcycle plant in Gurgoan, India. The workers had formed a union and were protesting certain policies of their MNC employer, when all hell broke loose. The police charged and beat up the 1500 strong protestors. The lathicharge in itself would have been a non incident had it not been for the shear number of people that were grievously injured in the melee. There is no clear indication on who started the fight, but the fact was that both sides(protestors and cops) had indulged in excesses. Though at the end of the day the Police bore the brunt of the blame (which was true to an extent).

The incident speaks about the fundamental issues that are brought forth by globlisation. Had this not been an incident involving a MNC and the government going all out to attract FDI, the cops wouldn’t have been so high handed. States like Kerla and West Bengal which are governed by the communist parties in India, are know for their labour unrest and militant trade unions. With India embracing free economy and a capitalistic society, trade unions were being thought off as a thing of the past and these states are actively shedding their image as a stronghold of trade unions. It would be folly to think that, ’cause without proper legislation to govern workers benefits the trade unions(which provide for collective bargaining) are the only way to check employee exploitation.

In this incident the workers were not striking to get a better pay but to get a better work environment. More than two thirds of the employees were apprentices and trainees (who of course get paid a pittance) for the last two years. And the company instead of making them employees after the two year period decided to hire new trainees instead of the existing ones. This sounds as though it is a leaf from the book of a small scale sweat shop. And to boot the Japanese Ambassador had to go shooting his mouth off. What he doesn’t realise is this is India and not Japan.

I am not a big fan of the communist style of government, actually I hate it, but that does not give the right to big corporations to run our lives. The fact that these corporations exploit their employees and promote sweat shops with impunity speaks for the way governments take care of their citizenry. I believe that we need a balance in power between the big corporations and the small common man (whose only strength is in numbers). Given that in countries like the US and to a lesser extent India, the trade unions have been or had been taken over by the Mafia, but that is no excuse to give the power in the hands of the MNCs. India and the other developing nations should learn from their history with the British East India Company!

“Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess”


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