The Haryana Police on Friday detained 13 persons, including three Maruti union body members, hours before the all-India labour strike began. The union members were in the industrial area to campaign for the agitation and were picked up from near the gate of the Maruti Suzuki India Limited plant, which had witnessed a series of strikes over 15 months between 2011 and 2012. The detainees have been kept at the police station inside Manesar's automobile manufacturing zone.
Khushi Ram, a former Maruti worker and one of the representatives who was detained, told Scroll.in that the police were making rounds of residential colonies in Aliyar and Baas, asking workers to reach the Maruti factory and start work. Short term contract workers live in these colonies.
The Manesar factory workers had sent notice to the Maruti management on August 13 saying they would join the strike call on September 2, said Ajmer Yadav, president of the Maruti Suzuki Workers' Union. The Trade Union Act requires workers' groups to intimate their companies of an impending strike. Yadav added, "We had also said that this year the workers will not compensate for loss of production by working an extra day as they did after September 2 strike last year."
The Assistant Commissioner of Police in Manesar did not respond to phone calls or text messages. Station House Officer Manesar declined to comment on why the workers' representatives were being detained.
A senior management official at Maruti Suzuki India Limited had earlier said the company had not decided if the plant will be closed on the day of the strike and was in discussion with the management of other big companies in the area such as Honda Motors. Maruti Suzuki's older plant in Gurgaon will remain operational on Friday. The Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, the workers' union at the Gurgaon plant, had not given a strike notice.
Workers at the Honda plant in Manesar, Daikin air conditioner manufacturers in Neemrana, and several automobile vendor companies in Dharuhera and Bawal in Haryana have struck work.
More than 15 crore workers are expected to be on strike on September 2 as part of an all-India strike called by all the central trade unions opposing proposed changes in labour laws in favour of employers, deteriorating work conditions and pay, and attacks on the right to unionise.