The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

India:
Auto Workers Face Covid

Jun 7, 2021

The following is a translation from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary group of the same name.

The city of Chennai, formerly Madras, in the state of Tamil Nadu in south-eastern India, is an agglomeration of 11 million inhabitants. It is home to large car manufacturing plants, whose employees have not gone to work for fear of Covid.

This state is one of those where the number of people infected with the coronavirus is very high. Given their working conditions, the thousands of workers who run the factories of a dozen car manufacturers in Chennai have felt particularly threatened. Demonstrations of discontent had taken place at the end of May at Hyundai and Ford, before the leaders closed the factories, unable to cope with the contagion—of the virus as well as the rising anger.

At Renault-Nissan, nearly 9,000 workers and employees, many of them temporary, threatened to strike, through their union representatives. The management was accused of running the lines without any physical distancing or hygiene measures. The trade unionists sued the authorities who let the car manufacturers continue the activity on the pretext of the urgency of the orders.

On May 31, the court ordered an inspection of the facilities, while asking workers to return to the factory. Although most builders resumed activity that day, many workers do not trust management’s promises to institute safety measures. They demand, as long as the epidemic lasts, that the workforce be spread over several teams.

Those in charge are all named, the bosses of Renault-Nissan having only offered vaccination to 200 workers out of the entire workforce. Quite a symbol....