‘How the Other Half Lives’ Photo Exhibition

Here at MEM we are very much looking forward to the upcoming photo exhibition, ‘How the Other Half Lives’, taking place in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon next week.

This exhibition will take consumers on a journey to the other, less visible, rarely talked about side of Gurgaon and give them an insight into the lives of the workers behind the products that they buy in the mall.

Although workers are the backbone of industry in India, they enjoy little of its successes. In their world, long working hours, poor pay, exploitation and substandard living conditions are the norm. It is a world where covering the most basic living costs is a constant struggle, where buying medicine for a sick family member means going into debt.

However workers and consumers are inextricably linked through the products that they make and buy. By  introducing consumers to the lives of workers who live within the same geographical area as them this exhibition will encourage consumers to think critically about this link and provide opportunities for consumers to get involved in the struggle to improve these conditions.

This exhibition wants to close the circle, bringing those on the edges inside. It wants to encourage consumers to meet the other side of Gurgaon, gain an understanding of the difficult conditions workers endure and in doing so take the first step of a long journey in solving some of these complex problems.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Monday 28th May at 5pm in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. It will also include a puppet show developed by ‘Creative Stars’, a theatre group of workers’ children, which tells the story of a worker in Gurgaon based on the children’s own experiences.

The exhibition will be open to the public daily from 11am – 8pm on Monday 28th May – Friday 1st June.

We hope to see you there.

For photos from the exhibition please see here.

May Day

As a celebration of the international labour movement, May Day is an important day for workers throughout the world, commemorating the hard earned workers’ rights after years of struggles. It is also a time to remember the  challenges facing the workers’ movement as we move ahead.

This May Day, Mazdoor Ekta Manch and Garment and Allied Workers Union (GAWU) celebrated the day in Gurgaon, Haryana.  Hundreds of workers, families, and children celebrated a day that usually goes unnoticed in the Gurgaon area. Many young workers and children who have never before celebrated May Day as a historic international working class day, joined in to raise their voices in pride, recognising the many victories of workers around the world.
The Workers’ Children’s Theatre Group,called  ‘Little Stars’, organised through Tarang (workers’ cultural programme), did a magnificent performance showing the story of  the migration of a worker from a rural to urban area in search of a livelihood.
 The main event of the day was a gripping cricket match between locally organised teams of workers, with enthralling commentary which was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Dalit leadership was prominent among speakers and participants – taking pride in their heritage and urging all of us to transform the society we live in. GAWU (Garment and Allied Workers Union) Executive Committee members were interviewed by TV channels.  Workers sang revolutionary songs, written by a GAWU EC member.
Mazdoor Ekta Manch and GAWU joined our voices with yours and others around the world on May Day against the labour violations that take place here in Gurgaon, as well as other such exploitations and violations that take place around the world.

Public meeting on Wage Theft

Here at Mazdoor Ekta Mach, we organised a public event and seminar on 2nd March 2012 to accelerate the wage theft campaign. This event took place in Zila Parishad Hall (John Hall), near Rajiv Chowk, Gurgaon. A number of trade union leaders, labour lawyers, local people, workers and officials of government department participated in this event and shared their views about wage theft and poor conditions of workers.

The event began with a welcome address from Ms. Anannya Bhattacharjee, President of Garment and Allied Workers Union. She welcomed all the participants and guests and introduced about the objectives of campaign. She also encouraged workers as well as present guests from civil society to stand against any kind of exploitation of workers and wage theft. Moti Singh, Treasurer of Rajput Mahasabha, warmly welcomed the idea to stop wage theft and promised that he will always stand in support of workers’ rights and the hall of Rajput Mahasabha will always be open and welcome any event on workers’ rights issues.

Later the event was addressed by Comrade Yogesh, a worker of the automobile industry and a member of Inqualabi Mazdoor Kendra. He shared his views and encouraged workers to protest against any kind of wage theft. He emphasized the need to extend the campaign on wage theft to other areas of Haryana as well. Deepak, a worker from the automobile industry and member of Inqualabi Mazdoor Kendra, said that we should follow Marxist ideology to start any workers’ struggle. He showed a great concern for the issue of wage theft and support for the campaign.

The event was chaired by prominent social activist and leader Swami Agnivesh. He marked his deep concern with workers’ problems of wage theft and shared his long experience, highlighting positive examples of his case, battle and campaign against bonded labour. He addressed and encouraged workers to join this campaign for a successful outcome. He wished for a successful campaign ahead through the leadership of Mazdoor Ekta Manch.

An eminent labour lawyer and leader of CPI (M), Rajendra Pathak, shared that when people stand up for workers’ rights then they may be trapped by industrialists. When he raised his voice against exploitation of workers he was framed through being falsely charged for criminal cases. He has been framed in eight criminal cases including a murder case. We should be careful to lead movements but never hold back from it. We will start campaigns in a more organised way. This campaign could be a more powerful weapon to organise workers and convince them to struggle. Anil, a famous labour leader of Gurgaon and head of local unit of All India Trade Union Congress, congratulated Mazdoor Ekta Manch for the campaign on a basic and common problem of workers and promised to support the campaign.

Dr. Rakesh Chamar, a doctor from the ESI department said that we always motivate campaigns for the well-being of workers. We will make workers in ESI department aware about the campaign.

A very good and sensitive play was performed by the children of Tarang Kala Kendra which was based on wage theft. The play was directed by Ms. Nayika Nagpal. It received huge applause and praise. Labour leaders and lawyers have their blessings to this issue based play and entertainment. They also gave a prize to the children. Media persons also came to cover the event and reported about it.

We were very encouraged by the success of this event and hope to hold further awareness raising events in the future.