Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Suzuki will stay in India boss says. Why are workers unhappy?

Suzuki boss Osamu Suzuki.
by Richard Mellor

The Chairman of Suzuki Motor Corp Osamu Suzuki is in India pledging to continue production at the Maruti Suzuki India plant that was ransacked after battles between cops and workers at the plant. A human resources manager was also killed.  The term "human resource" is a modern time term that sounds very nice, it is the person in charge of human Labor power and its use.  Cattle or poultry farms have similar persons in charge of managing commodity resources.

Suzuki loves the Indian people so much he will not close move production; he wants to, "Retain the love of India's citizens by manufacturing more vehicles for them and maintaining a good relationship with them." he announces to the media while wearing a Turban to show how sincere his love is.  This is important for both Indian and Japanese capitalism as Suzuki's India operations accounts for 30% of its pretax profit and represents 46% of its production outside of Japan.

Halting production at Maruti Suzuki, through strikes or to escape industrial action would seriously cut in to profits.  Suzuki does not invest capital in auto production in India because it wants to provide autos for Indian people, after all, investment in mass transit would be a better allocation of capital socially.  No, Suzuki invests in India in order to make profit, that it is in the manufacture of cars is secondary.

Five hundred of the workers at the plant have been fired (what's that like in India) and many of them are being charged with murder for the death of the resource manager.  The Wall Street Journal claims that the cause of the "rampage" was a "tiff" between a worker and a supervisor.  The "tiff" was a disagreement over disciplinary measure being take against a worker.  Maruti Suzuki Workers Union president Ram Meher  said in a statement after the event that  "The gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms,"  and accused the company of "anti-worker and anti-union activities"

"They, joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers who have had to be hospitalized with serious injuries. The bouncers, who are anti-social elements on hire, also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory," Meher said.

We have to read about our own Labor history here in the US to identify with what Meher is saying here.  The same tactics have been used repeatedly against our efforts to form Unions and fight for rights in the workplace. The US bosses hired all sorts of thugs and gangsters to physically attack workers including the dreaded Pinkertons. This violence comes after years of violence committed against workers in many forms, we know that.

Suzuki and his comrades in the Indian government wants to prevent this from happening again to save money as what the bosses term "Labor unrest" cost the company more than $500 million in lost production in 2011. Production has started up again under the watchful eye of the police. But this incident, just like the riots that occurred after the Rodney King beating here in the US, were not caused by an single incident, single incidents might be the spark that lights the fire but the combustible material is already there.

Suzuki doesn't invest in India for the benefit of Indian workers no more than GM invests in China to help workers there.  They invest in these countries because human beings come cheaper, Union free in many cases, and under regimes that are oppressive or outright autocratic.  The MSWU leader Meher is right we know it.  What we are seeing in India and around the world is a growing opposition to the brutal and repressive conditions that are intensifying through global capitalism and competition. They may make some minor changes in response to a situation like this one in India or the events in Zambia where workers have killed  mine bosses or South Africa where workers fighting for dignity and a decent life were murdered by police under direction from the ANC government.  But the underlying causes that drive workers' to such action, the exploitative and brutal conditions of capitalist production will continue and so will our resistance to it.

Because they cannot solve this problem as long as the dominant forces of production are privately owned and set in to motion for personal gain, these clashes will continue.  When we struck my employer in 1985, our bosses hired some waster to find out why we struck.  Naturally, the main problem was the presence of "militants" in the Union. It is always "outside agitators" that stir up trouble, after all, it cannot be the workers as we are so happy working under such generous conditions,  "Executives weren't aware of any contentious issues between workers and management that could have caused the violence"  Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava tells the Wall Street Journal and if that's the case he speculates that "outside organizers may have played a role though the company had no evidence"  the WSJ adds.

Those stupid workers, don't see that they have it so good but allow themselves to get roped in to going on a rampage by a few outsiders.  "There's always a catalyst to a mob" says Bhargava. Well we agree with Bhargava here, the catalyst is the method of production, a Labor process that has as its main aim, the purchase of human Labor power as cheaply as possible and the right to put it to work under conditions most favorable to the owner of capital and detrimental to the welfare of the worker. It is brutal exploitation that is the catalyst and globalization and the rapacious competition for profits by the owners of capital that necessities these conditions.  It is the capitalist mode of production that is violent and things won't change until workers control the Labor process and we have to change the system to accomplish that.

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