The Security Foundation of India report makes the case for increased regulation to support workers.
In large urban centers as well as in smaller cities, construction workers can often be seen sitting on dangerous scaffolding without safety gear. While these violations were public, what happened on the factory floor was less visible. The impunity for accidents in these spaces is not as well documented as the industry’s growth statistics.
The automotive industry is no exception. A report published by the NGO Security Foundation of India (SII) is a veritable indictment of the industry’s biggest players. Titled “Crush,” it details worker accidents in the industry, profiles of the workers involved, and the lack of workforce protection and compensation mechanisms. With 37 million workers, the sector is one of the largest employers in the private sector and contributes significantly to both manufacturing GDP and national GDP.
Over the past six years, SII has been in touch with more than 4,000 workers in Haryana and other states with automotive hubs. Top employers in these locations include Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Hero in Haryana; Tata and Mahindra in Pune, Maharashtra; TVS, Ashok Leyland and Tata in Chennai; Tata in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand , Bajaj and Mahindra; Honda, Maruti Suzuki and Hero in Nimrana, Rajasthan.
The group began documenting worker accidents in Haryana in 2019 after talking to workers and official sources.Its 2022 report is based on information collected between April 2021 and October 2022 From Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It also relied on secondary data from the General Directorate of Factories Consulting and Labor Research Institute (DGFASLI), which records worker accidents. In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, DGFASLI reported 3,882 injuries, 1,050 of which were fatal; Maharashtra alone reported 932 fatal and non-fatal accidents.
Official accident figures represent a fraction of the actual number, the report said. In at least the states of Haryana and Maharashtra, factory inspections have fallen in frequency and penalties are no longer a deterrent. Haryana alone reports 50-60 accidents a year, which the SII says is a gross underestimate. National data recorded by DGFASLI lists 2,832 non-fatal injuries in the country. According to SII, the severity of injuries was higher in Pune than in Haryana. In the case of non-fatal accidents, nearly 83% in Pune involved loss of body parts, compared to 67% in Haryana.
training and accidents
Most of the injured were untrained helpers. Ajay Sahu lost three fingers four months ago while working at a factory in Faridabad, Haryana.Speaking of front, he said he was not trained for the job but was hired nonetheless. He is paid Rs 11,000 per month. The “company” not only fired him, but also refused to pay him compensation, which made him very unhappy. Sahu arrived in the National Capital Region (NCR) from Bihar six months ago. Before that, he had been working in a factory in Mumbai. He came to Faridabad, where he had relatives, most of whom worked in the industrial sector. Sahu said the “company” treated his injuries but did not reinstate him. Sahu claimed they were trying to find vulnerabilities and avoid primary responsibility. But without proper documentation, he’s not sure how to proceed. In the end, he was not allowed to enter the factory grounds.
Puran Singh, 52, lost four fingers in the press. Today, he works as a security guard for significantly reduced pay and works 12 hours without holidays. In addition to suffering the trauma of their injuries, these workers would also have to face a complex bureaucratic process by the employees’ national insurance company to obtain compensation if they registered in the first place, the SII said.This Tekdal, Or contractors, through whom most workers are “placed” they are equally indifferent.
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Employers often reinstate injured workers to buy their silence. Instead of being out of work and income, many agree to the terms of their employers. SII noted that in Faridabad, workers who lost fingers in workshop accidents had a higher percentage of permanent jobs than their compatriots in temporary jobs. This suggests that workers are permanently “resolved” in injury-related disputes.
According to SII, the Automotive Skills Development Council has mandated that press shop assistants and operators need to have at least a Level VIII education and be licensed or trained as prerequisites in basic press shop cleaning skills and safety. They appointed assistants with little or no training, the report found. As a result, there are more helpers among the injured. They were also overworked and denied overtime. Nearly 51 percent reported that they worked 12-hour shifts, which also contributed to accidents.
A review of 80 accident reports indicated that there was underreporting of accidents. Thirty-one workers in a sample of 80 indicated that they had been injured while working a 12-hour shift. Eighty per cent of injured workers in Haryana reported that they did not have safety sensors on their machines, and that the power presses they were working on had not undergone the necessary checks.
According to workers surveyed, a typical crush injury includes the loss of two fingers, but 60% to 70% of injured workers also report injuries to other parts of the body. Most of the injured received their Employees National Insurance e-Pehchaan (identity) cards after the accident, although ESIC deductions were made from their wages on a regular basis.
Since 2016, SII has helped 4,968 injured workers, 3,968 of them in the automotive industry supply chain. Most of them are under 30 years old. The yet-to-be-enacted Occupational Health and Safety and Working Conditions Act proposes to increase “spread overtime” from 10.5 hours to 12 hours. Unions objected to this on the grounds that it would force workers to work overtime under the law.
It is not uncommon for workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh to work in Haryana in the supply chain of the auto industry. In short, Bimaru belts are overrepresented in the workforce. Workers have little opportunity to join a union, SII said. That may be partly true, given the backlash that assertive workers face from employers and state governments. At several auto centers, however, workers staged lengthy protests over wages, bonuses and other working conditions.
Through a long battle against an industry and a country steeped in an “ease of doing business” mentality, unions were able to secure compensation for workers who were injured or killed. Sony, a 25-year-old woman from Bihar, lost four fingers while making brake parts for a leading car company.
In testimony to SII, she said the company installed production gauges to monitor production but failed to install safety guards to prevent accidents. Pramod Kumar, 26, from Uttar Pradesh lost four fingers while making aluminum gaskets in the automotive supply chain.
In Haryana, more than 65 percent of workers surveyed found monthly wages for eight-hour shifts to be less than Rs 10,000. However, under the Indian Factories Act of 1948, they were always forced to work overtime, but were paid double wages for every extra hour worked.
conditions in pune
The experience at the Pune auto hub is slightly different.Higher degree of contractualization (larger proportion of labor force on contracts) than in Haryana Tekdal, rather than permanent workers). There is less immigration between countries. There are more intra-state migrants from areas like Sholapur, Nagpur and Nashik. The majority (88%) are non-permanent, outside safety nets and laws.
More than 65 percent of workers suffered injuries ranging from loss of body parts to nerve damage, or suffered electrical shock or chemical burns. A large number of workers did not obtain ESIC cards on the day of employment, as required by law. ESIC cards enable them and their families to access primary, secondary and tertiary medical services.
In Gurugram, nearly 70 percent of injured workers surveyed by SII between 2020 and 2022 received ESIC cards after accidents. ESIC headquarters also seems to be aware of this phenomenon, describing it as “after-the-fact registration”. They also know that the deducted premiums are not deposited into ESIC. In this case, most of the injured workers were taken to private hospitals. Better working conditions were observed in ESIC compliant plants.
The SII report lays out a series of recommendations for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and governments. Recommendations for the former involve improving safety, preventing accidents and increasing productivity in the auto industry. Central government must lower threshold for workers required for coverage under Occupational Safety, Health and Conditions of Work Code 2020, SII says . Under the Factories Act 1948, the threshold was 10, meaning any establishment employing no more than 10 workers was covered by the Act, including protections related to safety and other working conditions.
Under the new OSH guidelines, this threshold has been raised to 20. The SII report recalled that all central trade unions including Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh opposed the change.
The center is also required to conduct safety studies in the first five automotive centers in Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat. The SII said there was a need to bring in all unlisted MNCs, especially those in the automotive sector, backed by business responsibility reporting. Today, only public companies are required to do this. The report effectively captures the systemic nature, if not the scale, of the problem. It makes the case for stronger regulation in favor of workers and points out the unfairness of production itself.
On the one hand, there is a thriving auto industry, on the other hand, many workers are paid below par and at high risk for themselves.
A report released by NGO Security Foundation of India (SII) is a veritable indictment of the biggest players in the automotive industry.
It details worker accidents in the sector, profiles of the workers involved, and the lack of workforce protection and compensation mechanisms.
The report is based on information collected between April 2021 and October 2022 From Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Official accident figures represent a fraction of the actual number, the report said.
Accidents are underreported, and most of the injured are untrained helpers.
Employers often reinstate injured workers to buy their silence.