April 2011, Week 2


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Fri, 8 Apr 2011 19:12:03 -0400
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GM Workers in India on Strike: Appeal for Solidarity


The National Labor Committee

Nearly 1,600 workers at the General Motors Halol plant
in India have been on strike for the last three weeks. 
Workers manufacturing the popular GM Cruze and Aveo
vehicles are paid just 47 to 92 cents an hour.  There is
no collective contract.  Management is unilaterally
demanding a 20 percent increase in daily production
goals.  Over 269 auto workers at the GM Halol plant are
suffering permanent spinal cord injuries due to constant
heavy lifting without ergonomic health and safety
standards.  Management is suspending and relocating
striking workers while hiring non-union "scabs."

The workers are striking the GM Halol plant:

General Motors India Pvt. Limited Halol, District
Panchmahal Gujurat State, India

The strike is being led by the progressive Gujurat
Kamdar Mandal union:

Mr. Nihil Mehta, General Secretary Gujurat Kamdar Mandal
(Affiliated to the Indian Trade Union Congress, ITUC)

The workers are struggling to improve health and safety
conditions at the factory and guarantee respect for
worker rights.

Strike Demands

1. Immediately stop the hiring of non-union replacement
workers, while well over 1,000 GM Halol workers are on

2. Stop management's unilateral across-the-board
demand to increase daily production goals by 20 percent.

3. Improve health and safety conditions, especially
adopting adequate ergonomic standards to prevent further
spinal cord injuries to the workers. 

4. Immediately cease the suspension and relocation of striking workers.

5. All overtime premiums must be paid according to
Indian law. 

6. The Halol GM workers want to negotiate a
collective contract, so that the workers' voice is

7. There are 800 regular full-time workers at the
Halol plant and 800 temporary workers-who do the exact
same jobs, but have no rights and are paid just 47 cents
an hour, which is half of what the full-time workers
receive.  The union wants the 800 temps to be hired as
regular full-time workers, able to join the union and
paid fairly.

Background:  GM's Halol Factory in India

General Motors India Pvt. Limited Chandrapura Industrial
Estate Halol - 389351 District Panchmahals, Gujurat

Phone:  +91-2676-221000 Fax:  +91-2676-220666

General Motors marketing office in India Email: 
[log in to unmask]

The Halol GM factory produces Cruze sedans, Aveo sedans
and hatchbacks and the Tavera and Optra vehicles, which
are specific to India.

There are 1,600 workers at the Halol factory, 800 of
whom are full-time regular workers, while another 800
have been designated as "temporary workers"-despite the
fact that they do the exact same work for the same
hours-but are paid just half of what the regular workers


The regular workers earn 92 cents an hour:

92 cents an hour $   8.31 a day (9 hours) $  41.54 a
week (45 hours) $180.00 a month $2,166 a year

Temporary workers earn just 47 cents an hour, despite
the fact that they do the exact same work as the regular

47 cents an hour $    4.25 a day (9 hours) $  21.23 a
week (45 hours) $  92.00 a month $1,104 a year

If the GM Halol wages seem shockingly low -it could have
been even worse.  The factory workers had to strike on
October 29, 2010 to win their current wages.


Working hours at the Halol GM plant are nine hours a
day, six days a week for a "regular" 54-hour workweek. 
Such hours are illegal under India's Factory Act
legislation, which limits the regular shift to 8.5
hours.  This means the workers are owed back wages for
the three hours of overtime they work each week.

Work Injuries

Over 269 GM Halol workers have filed specific complaints
of spinal cord damage.  The Factory Act in India places
a cap on how much weight a worker can manually lift,
which is set at no higher than 44 pounds.  However, the
law places no limit on how much lifting a worker can be
required to complete during their shift.  Some workers
are constantly lifting heavy car doors, tires, steering
columns and other auto parts.  Most of the over 269
workers who are suffering from spinal cord injuries are
receiving medication and are only able to work
sporadically.   They are no longer able to lift heavy
parts.  Such spinal cord injuries can plague workers for

Such unsafe conditions have been going on for years at
the GM Halol plant!

GM management must immediately implement safer ergonomic
designs covering machine operating, work benches and
limits on lifting heavy auto parts.

Factory Management Creates a "Pocket Union"

GM factory management at the Halol plant created the "GM
Employees Union," which has less than 150 workers out of
1,600 workers at the factory.  Management then
"negotiated" with its "pocket union" to unilaterally
increase mandatory daily production goals by 20 percent.

This will only increase the number of future workers who
will suffer from spinal cord injuries.

The striking workers and their union, the Gujurat Kamdar
Mandal union-are challenging the illegal increase in
mandatory production goals in court.

The Strike

On February 25, 2010, the Gujurat Kamdar Mandal union
filed a complaint against General Motors with India's
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), over unfair
labor practices and dangerous health and safety
conditions at the Halol factory.

The union and workers also filed a petition with the
Gujurat High Court regarding labor rights violations at

The workers went out on strike during the 2nd shift on
March 16, 2011.  They have now been out on strike for
the last three weeks.  The impact of the strike has been
dramatic, as production has fallen by over 1,000 cars
during the last three weeks.

There are 150 workers who are locked inside the Halol GM
facility.  They are prohibited from leaving the compound
and are being provided lodging and food by management. 
These workers belong to the "union" GM management

The striking workers are being threatened with firing,
suspension or relocation to lower level GM facilities. 
Management is trying to bring in non-union replacement
workers, "scabs", to take the place of the strikers.


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