Dear Supporters of Safe In India
Last month was pivotal for us! In Dec18, we had set in motion our worker-safety initiative by sending our Report "CRUSHED" confidentially to the boards of Maruti, Hero, Honda; and Ministry of Labour, DG Fasli, DG ESIC, ISH Gurgaon, etc and sought to engage with them for six months before going public. With varying responses from them over this period, some good and some not so, in Aug19, we went public with the Report (full Report including stakeholder responses here) in a three-stage roadshow to raise awareness of the problem and it's potential solutions:
On 7th August 2019 at IIM Ahmedabad, followed by at Gurgaon on 11th August, and finally, on 20th August, a closed room round table of stakeholders with Shri Santosh Gangwar, Hon’ble Minister of Labour as Chair.
With senior influential panellists, more than 150 injured workers and 100+ other supporters in attendance during these events, there were challenging and informative discussions about the role of each stakeholder and the systemic change needed.
Here are some quotes reflecting the tension, with seeds of solution in there:
Sh Santosh Gangwar, Hon'ble Minister of Labour, supported the Report and its recommendations: "I would urge the industry, governmental organizations and specifically the auto industry to work on the basis of this report to find practical solutions, and improve the overall industrial safety standards". (Minister's full video address here).
At the IIMA launch co-hosted by Prof Errol D’Souza, he set the context in current auto-industry down-turn "Bad times are good times to look at long term sustainability issues...many firms are looking up their supply chain and saying it's time for us to take responsibility." (Prof D'Souza opening address video here). Two injured workers shared their thoughts with the IIMA Panel. Dablesh Kumar felt that "There are companies which do not want safety for workers" (See Dablesh's video). Manmohan Bajpai demanded: "I just want you to talk to higher levels officers, that in addition of rate, quality and quantity, car and two wheeler companies should demand safety of workers in their supply chain" (Manmohan's video).
Mr Saji Narayanan, President BMS wants that "Safety should be a worker’s fundamental right"; Mr AS Raju, Maruti Suzuki believes that "Companies which do well on safety do well on other business aspects". Mr Rajiv Khandelwal, Aajeevika Bureau raised the concern that "Currently, a worker is valued less than a machine. We need to mandate facilitation centres which can respond to the problems of the workers which includes Legal Aid to workers". Mr Ashim Roy, NTUI: "Business has no morals and therefore we have moved from business being liable to being responsible". Mr Kamal Jaswal, Common Cause: "It is very urgent to put in place the task force that is conceived in the Report", Mr Sunil Parekh, FICCI: "I will support including the subject of safety and livelihood in the mandate of the Business associations. Somehow it has never been included" (Full IIMA Panel discussion/Q&A video here)
At the Gurgaon launch, Key note speaker, Mr Ashok Sangwan, Div Commissioner, Gurgaon questioned laws and stakeholders "Have our laws become such that we need to change them?...Industrial Safety is an issue which should be addressed jointly by all stakeholders" (Mr Sangwan's full address here). Mr Vipul Mudgal, Common Cause: "Numbers are really important to make the case...I congratulate Safe in India on its constructive steps".
Prof. Ravi Shrivastav, JNU: "Large Industrial centres are dependent on contractual and migrant labour. The most vulnerable worker in terms of informalities and working in unsafe conditions is the migrant labour".
Mr Pawan Kumar, BMS: "OSH Code in its present form is not universal. Code should give every worker a right to safety". (Full Gurgaon Panel discussion/Q&A video here).
Mr Sandeep Sachdeva, Safe In India presented the Report findings below "Both the government and the OEMs are responsible...Let's focus first on Power Press Accidents which are 52% of all" (Presentation of Report Findings in Hindi at Gurgaon and in English at IIMA here):
93% were making components for Maruti-Suzuki, Honda or Hero.
83% of machines had no/malfunctioning safety sensors.
48% of workers felt excessive production pressure from supervisors.
52% accidents happen on only one type of machine – the Power Press.
70% were in lower tiers (2/3/4) of auto-sector supply chain.
65% were below 30 years of age and a similar percentage were contract worker.
47% lacked or had poor quality of safety gear.
67% were given their ESIC insurance card on or after the day of the accident!
Mr Prabhat Agarwal, Safe In India: "It's much more challenging to obtain support and funding for this issue than other softer areas social sector is active in" (Mr Prabhat Agarwal address here)
We are pleased that the media took serious interest in the subject, with good coverage from HT, TOI, Scroll, BT, FE, etc. See our media coverage here.
The journey has just begun. We have been asking the industry and the government to form a joint task force. Ministry of Labour, ESIC and Maruti Suzuki have engaged well. We now need others to come to the table too and will keep escalating matters until they engage.
We are in it for the long haul and look forward to your encouragement and support:
2. Help us with your time and expertise; we need experts in a number of areas here.
3. And of course, donate here. No amount is too small; it's the thought that matters. (We take donations from only Indian passport holders and non-auto sector Indian CSR/Foundations but do not pay any commissions so CSR-agents need not contact us).
Until next time...
Team Safe In India