---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sudha Bharadwaj <advocatesudhabharad...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 1, 2011 at 9:34 AM

             30th April 2011


The indefinite dharna by contract workers asking for the
implementation of a High Court order directing ACC-Holcim to
regularize them completes four weeks today.

On 28th April, 1000 out of the 1200 workers of the company (there are
only about 300 permanent workers) voluntarily abstained from work –
there was no demonstration or picketing, they simply stayed at home.
There was hardly any production that day at the ACC plant.  The
contractors have put up notices saying that this has resulted in great
economic loss and if this is repeated disciplinary action would be
taken!  While it is very alert and conscious of its own income and
losses, the management seems to be totally impervious and callous to
the incalculable losses to the workers’ lives arising from its
unethical and unlawful practices. The solidarity of the workers in the
company is very significant since while the High Court order would
result in regularization of at most 150 workers, its implementation
would mean recognition of the union and the legitimacy of its demands.

Before this on 25th April, children of the contract workers had taken
out a rally to the Ambedkar Statue and addressed the press in support
of justice to their families.

On 15th April, the day about 500 workers cycled 12 kilometres to the
Collectorate to demand that the administration hold negotiations for
implementation of the High Court Order, the union had been served two
letters by the company stating that their sit-in was not legal. The
workers were asked to co-operate with the company while it studied the
papers and decided on a course of action, and were advised to call off
their action.

Although the management finally met with the workers on the evening of
20th April, in a meeting directed by the local administration, it was
unrelenting and did not indicate any inclination nor give any
commitment to implement the court orders.  The management insisted
that there should be a certified list of workers to be regularized
from the court, which was not possible since the membership receipts
were not exhibited. The union maintained that the management should
show its respect for the Judgment by initiating the process of
regularisation with the 75 undisputed workers.

On 25th April the company has filed a writ appeal in the High Court,
which is listed for hearing on 2nd May.

Solidarity and Support

In response to our previous update a large number of trade unions,
individuals, organisations and networks have written to HOLCIM-ACC
urging them to abide by the HC orders as well by their own commitments
under the Global Compact, and to not drag the already exploited
workers through another round of litigation.

Particularly significant is that in view of the annual general body
meeting of HOLCIM on 5th May several international union federations –
the Building and Woodworkers Federation, the International Chemical,
Engineering and Mineworkers Federation and the Swiss Trade Union
Federation UNIA have initiated an international campaign to persuade
Holcim to negotiate with the contract labourers to implement the
spirit of the High Court order and the Industrial Court order.  The
letter campaign is available on BWI Website www.bwint.org.

On 4th May, the Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai, - which
includes a number of strong unions like the Blue Star, Voltas and
Hindustan Lever unions as well as Mumbai Electricity Employees Union;
the NTUI, the Sarva Shramik Sangh, the Kachra Vahtuk Sangh, the Free
Binayak Sen Campaign and other individuals and organizations will hold
a demonstration at the corporate headquarters of Holcim India at
Churchgate, Mumbai.

On 1st May, May Day, an industrial strike is planned in the entire
industrial area of Bhilai on the following demands and in solidarity
with the struggle of contract workers in ACC-Holcim:

•        No to Contract Labour
•        The Right to Organize
•        A Living Wage
•        Safety at the work-site
•        8 hour working day
•        Respect to the socialist values of our Constitution

Through this struggle the contract workers are raising several stark
facts regarding cement production in general and specifically
regarding ACC-Holcim:

1.           The cement wage board agreement to which ACC was a
signatory prohibits contract labour in cement production process, and
even where permissible in loading and unloading of raw materials and
packaging, they are supposed to be paid at the same rates as regular
workers. But these workers have been carrying cement production for
several decades and are being paid only minimum wages.
2.           The profits after tax of HOLCIM-ACC are continuously over
Rs1000 crores per year since 2006.
3.           The entire cost of manufacturing (of which labour costs
are but a tiny percentage) is also less than half (42%) of the total
revenue for the company.  Thus a slight increase in the labour costs
is hardly going to cut into the profits of the company.
4.           The net worth of the company was also growing, and was at
Rs 6,469 crore for the last financial year, with an impressive 17%
rate of return.
5.           Holcim, the second largest cement manufacturer in the
world, pays a European worker $8 an hour, and an Indian contract
worker $2.17 a day (about 32 times less). Even if Holcim pays cement
wage board rates that would come to $7 a day (which is 8 times less)
6.           The CEO (Marcus Akerman) has an annual pay packet
including perks of Rs 10.5 crore. If 100 workers are paid arrears of
regular wages from the date of the reference i.e 2000 it would be
approximately Rs 8.4 crores.


On 3rd April, the contract workers had served notices to the Collector
and Assistant Labour Commissioner, Durg and the City Superintendent of
Police Chhaoni, and started their protest in the Bhilai Industrial
Estate, Jamul. Each day since then, groups of workers have been
joining the protest after completion of their respective shifts, their
families and mohalla members have been sitting in dharna during the
day, and volunteers from among the affected workmen have been sleeping
at the protest site during the nights. The workers have been holding
gate meetings and distributing pamphlets outside other factories in
the industrial area during lunch hours asking for solidarity.

It may be recalled that the contract workers, organized under the
Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh (PCSS) Union, have struggled for
over 20 years, seeking regular employment at the ACC-Holcim cement
plant instead of the exploitative and illegal contract-based
employment system currently in place.  Under the Cement Wage Board
Agreement – a tripartite agreement between the All India Cement
Manufacturers Association, the central trade unions and the
government, in force since 1978 – no contract labour would be employed
in cement manufacture at all, and if any were to be employed it would
be limited to the loading and unloading of raw materials and would be
paid at the same rate as the permanent employees.  Despite this
landmark agreement, use of contract labour in cement industry is
rampant today, and it is estimated that over 70% of the labour force
engaged in the nine large cement plants of Chhatisgarh today is
contract labour, employed under unlawful and highly abusive

Contract workers of ACC-Holcim have been seeking regularization for
the past twenty years, of which the last ten years have been spent in
a lengthy and expensive litigation process.  Both the Industrial Court
and the Chhattisgarh High Court have eventually sided with the
contract workers, holding their contracts “sham and bogus” and
directing the ACC-Holcim company to regularize them immediately.

Despite clear indictment by the courts, ACC-Holcim has been refusing
to implement the High Court order and to regularize any one of the
more than hundred eligible Union employees. It is imperative that the
company accede to the ethical and legal demands of the Union for
regularization of these employees, rather than engage in another round
of litigation.      It is to be noted that Holcim has been a signatory
to the UN Global Compact since 2003, a fact that Holcim prominently
advertises as an aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility.  The UN
Global Compact includes a code of conduct for companies regarding
treatment of labour, and stipulates that forced labour and
discrimination would not be resorted to by managements.

Other related materials / articles are available at the following sites:

•        Repression of Workers’ Struggles in Chhattisgarh
•        Article from the Hindu on the workers' dharna:
•        Action alert and update on day 16 of the ACC-Holcim dharna
http://www.sacw.net/article2016.html  and on
•        Press release announcing the launch of the indefinite dharna
at ACC-Holcim plant in Bhilai: http://www.sacw.net/article2001.html
•        Background of the cement industry and trouble brewing at
Ambuja-Holcim plant in Chhattisgarh :

If you have not yet done so, please register your protest with Holcim
before the Annual General Body Meeting on 5th May.

Write to the following officials in the management, urging them to
follow the Labour Laws of India and implement the High Court orders
with immediate effect, rather than harassing the workers through
another round of lengthy litigation.

A sample letter is attached below. We request you to send us a copy of
the letters at pcss...@gmail.com

Indira Chakravarthi, Shalini Gera
Friends of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha

Contact Details for Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh CMM Office,
Labour Camp, Jamul, district Durg, Chhattisgarh.
Email: advocatesudhabharad...@gmail.com


Email : markus.akerm...@holcim.com, paul.hugentob...@holcim.com,
kuldip.ka...@acclimited.com, rajen.mehro...@acclimited.com
CC : peter.gy...@holcim.com, nand.ku...@acclimited.com

Markus Akermann, Chief Executive Officer
Holcim Limited

Paul Hugentobler, Member of Executive Committee and Area Manager for India
Holcim Limited

Kuldip Kaura, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
ACC Limited

Dr. Rajen Mehrotra, Chief People Officer and Chief Knowledge Officer
ACC Limited

CC: Peter Gysel, Nand Kumar

Subject:  Implementation of Chhattisgarh High Court orders and
Regularization of contract workers in ACC-Holcim plant, Jamul, Durg
District, Chhattisgarh

Dear Sirs,

I/we urge you to immediately implement the Chhattisgarh High Court
order dated 22-March-2011, directing ACC-Holcim cement plant in Jamul
to regularize contract workers, and not drag them through another
lengthy litigation.

As a signatory of the Cement Wage Board Agreement, ACC-Holcim has
given an undertaking to not employ contract labour in its operations,
yet hundreds of contract workers have been employed by the company
through contracts which have been held as “sham and bogus” by the
Honourable High Court of Chhattisgarh.  The contract workers have been
fighting for their legal rights for the past twenty years and their
struggle now stands vindicated by the Chhattisgarh High Court.

I/we request you to implement this order and immediately offer regular
employment to the over hundred eligible employees, as instructed by
the courts.  Not only is this the lawful duty of the ACC-Holcim
company, this is also in keeping with your undertakings as a signatory
to the UN Global Compact, which requires you to eliminate coercive
labour practices and respect human rights.


Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal
*The UID project i**s going to do almost exactly the same thing which the
predecessors of Hitler did, else how is it that Germany always had the lists
of Jewish names even prior to the arrival of the Nazis? The Nazis got these
lists with the help of IBM which was in the 'census' business that included
racial census that entailed not only count the Jews but also identifying
them. At the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, there is an
exhibit of an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine that was responsible
for organising the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews.*

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