Dismissed Maruti workers will influence others to strike, says Bhargava

Maruti India chairman RC Bhargava today cautioned that the company should be prepared to face further protest from its staff even as the company reopened its Manesar plant today amid heavy security, a month after a lockout was declared due to the violence in which one senior company official was killed and 100 others injured.

Maruti India chairman RC Bhargava in an interview with CNBC-TV18 said the company is working on doing away with contract employees completely . Prior to the incident, the plant had an employee strength of 3,300, of which 1,528 were permanent.

Defending the company's move of doing away with contract workers, Bhargava said that once contract workers get regularised they will be more motivated to work with better attention to quality and productivity measure.

MSI has decided to terminate services of 500 permanent workers, who were allegedly found to be involved in the Manesar violence. Besides, MSI is also said to be planning to remove another 500 contract workers over their alleged role in the violence and arson.

Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

To increase the workforce, the company will start fresh recruitment of permanent workers from September 2 and existing contract workers will also be considered for the same.

Bhargava also acknowledged that the contract worker system is not ideal and said that certain staff was suspended on the basis of evidence provided by the co-staff as the former may try to jeopardize operations again.

Bhargava added that the company has a zero-tolerance policy toward violence and won't be surprised if the unions take over the suspension matter to the courts.

"I don't think we ever imagined that merely lifting the lockout and starting partial production would mean that everything is normalized. We do expect that the worker who have been dismissed will carry on protests, and that these people will and try and someway influence other workers either not to work or in someway to support them and we have to deal with that," Bhargava said.

He said that it is imperative for the local administration and the company to work together to ensure that operations run smoothly at Manesar.

The company had earlier announced that only 300 permanent workers will resume work. Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chief Operating Officer (Administration) S Y Siddiqui had said yesterday that the workers would operate just a single shift from 8 am to 4:30 pm.

Workers are standing in queue outside the factory gate to enter the plant amid heavy rain. Haryana Police has provided 500 personnel, out of which 200 are inside the plant and 300 in areas around the facility.

Besides, the company has also formed its own special force numbering 100, which includes ex-service men.

Initially, about 150 cars are expected to be rolled out every day instead of the plant's normal capacity of 1,500- 1,700 units. Production will be gradually ramped up at the plant, which has an annual capacity of 5.5 lakh units.

The company had declared a lockout at Manesar plant on July 21 following the worst ever violence in its history on July 18. The plant suffered damages estimated to be less than Rs 10 crore, while the overall production loss during the lockout was pegged at around Rs 1,400 crore.

With inputs from Agencies