We strongly condemn the 18 March 2017 decision of the Gurgaon Sessions Court in Haryana, India for convicting 13 workers – 12 of whom were elected trade union officers – of conspiracy and murder sentencing them to life imprisonment for the incident on 18 July 2012 at global auto company Maruti-Suzuki India Limited (India subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corp).
The incident of 18 July 2012, in which a manager of the company lost his life, at Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar works was orchestrated by the Maruti-Suzuki management to suppress a trade union of the workers choice. For over a year the workers had been trying to form a trade union of their choosing. In the face of dismissals and other forms of victimisation of union officers, the workers went on to form their own but still the Maruti-Suzuki management, with the active support of government, refused to negotiate with the union on their just demands for increased wages, better working conditions and most of all the right to permanent employment for contract workers. These actions of the Maruti-Suzuki management, and the inaction of the government, were in violation of both Indian law as also of ILO conventions.
In the days after the incident the police arrested 148 workers each of who has served a jail term of 31 months or more. Alongside, Maruti-Suzuki unilaterally fired 546 permanent workers and over 1,700 contract workers.
Last month’s judgement has come after a four-and-a-half year trial and is devoid of any material evidence. The judgement accepts that the criminal investigation carried out by the local police was poor and inadequate. The judgement merely reiterates the version of the Maruti-Suzuki management.
This judgement undermines democratic rights and the rule of law in India. The judgement amounts to an attack on trade union rights and freedoms in India.
We, join our forces on 4 and 5 April 2017, through actions at our workplaces, the factories and offices of Suzuki and at offices of India’s government and its embassies and consulates, in solidarity with the 13 convicted comrades and all workers of Maruti-Suzuki and members of Maruti-Suzuki Workers’ Union through a worldwide protest demanding that:
- The Government of the State of Haryana withdraw its prosecution in the Maruti-Suzuki case immediately and ensure the immediate release of the 13 workers, Maruti-Suzuki India Limited reinstate all 2300 workers dismissed in July-August 2012 and
- The Government of India ensure the protection of trade union and democratic rights under Indian law and international covenants
CGT , France , KCTU South Korea , NTUI India, Zenronen Japan