Honda workers sit in

January 21, 2020

From the January-February 2020 issue of News & Letters

Faridabad, India—Honda management came out with a notice on Nov. 22, 2019, that asked each worker to sign a good conduct bond before entering the factory. In Faridabad, India, many such notices appeared from 1990 to 2000.

Then, after the demand that workers sign a good conduct bond, worker representatives would argue for non-acceptance and non-compliance with the notice. “Heat up the environment. ‘No’ to any signature. ‘No’ to entering the factory. We’ll sit outside.”

The argument would be posed between “illegal lockout” versus “illegal strike.” Workers would spend hours, months, years outside, leading to dissipation of the picket line and scattering of strikers. Companies back then went for restructuring, or declared themselves bankrupt and sold assets. Rarely did the courts manage to get wages to the workers.

This process of the 1990s is again at play. But this time workers are much more alert. The steps that workers are now taking are as a collective in common. Not leaving the workplace is a common occurrence, increase in the number of days of de-occupation (that is, taking away companies’ occupation of factories), and workers are averse to negotiation.

Following 15 days of de-occupation of the factory by workers hired through contractors, production has been at a standstill since Nov. 4. Honda has issued a special notice to the permanent workers.

Good times ahead.

—Sher Singh

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