Honda Workers Continue Hunger Strike Despite Deteriorating Health

Posted on September 26, 2016 in Society

By YKA Staff:

Of the five Honda workers on an indefinite hunger-strike at Jantar Mantar, Vipin Kumar lost consciousness in the morning of September 26 and had to be taken to a hospital. Kumar later regained consciousness and refused to end the hunger-strike. A press-note by the proposed union at HMSI’s (Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India) Tapukara factory said that the health of all the workers on the hunger-strike has deteriorated. The five workers on hunger-strike, along with several other workers from the factory, have been camping at Jantar Mantar since September 19 to demand the registration of their union, the reinstatement of workers suspended or terminated, and the withdrawal of criminal cases registered against the workers.

The protesting workers, who have drawn support from several activist groups, unions, workers’ groups, and student unions, also had a meeting with the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti convenor Jignesh Mevani on September 24. A call for boycotting Honda products was also announced on September 26. The workers said in a press-note that they are using pamphlets, street-plays, and songs to ask people at Honda showrooms to boycott its products.

The protests stem from a long litany of complaints the workers have had from the factory. These range from oppressive working conditions to contractualisation of labour to allegedly false cases registered against the workers after a strike on February 16 this year. A union that workers proposed in August last year was opposed by a group of some workers who those protesting say are close to the management. The union is yet to be registered. A union affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s labour wing, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sagnh, was registered in its place around May this year. A majority of around 3000 workers either suspended or terminated since the protesting workers proposed their union have also not been granted any relief.

The hunger-strike at Jantar Mantar was called after permission for holding protest demonstrations in any region between Alwar and Gurgaon was refused by the administration. Since the hunger-strike began, the workers, as well as some groups and unions supporting them, have made representations to the union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya and the chief minister of Rajasthan through the Principal Resident Commissioner of Rajasthan in Delhi. This has not led to any progress in the stalemate between the workers and the Honda management.