Simmering discord between the workers and management of Maruti Suzuki India once again led to suspension of production at the company’s Manesar (near Gurgaon in Haryana) plant this evening. A prolonged labour unrest had crippled the same plant between June and October last year too, leading the country’s largest car maker to lose passenger car market share.
A company statement said that at least 40 of the company’s senior managers have been injured in violence which broke out on the shop floor and had to be rushed to hospitals. A company official told Firstpost “some bones were broken, some heads smashed…..people went on rampage”.
Though this company official said it was “some minor shop floor issue” which was blown out of proportion by workers, it is certain that by tomorrow morning, neither will tempers cool down nor is production likely to resume.
Last year, around the same time, disgruntled workers found a unique way of disrupting work to support their demands – create serious quality defects in cars so that the they fail the mandatory VI (vehicle inspection) quality test and are sent to the holdup area within the factory instead of being shipped out to dealers.
These workers are young, with avergae ages of 27-28 years, and last year they resorted to doing crazy things like cutting wire harnesses from cars which are fresh off the assembly line, removing or loosening hinges on car doors so that sometimes, entire doors have fell off during pre-shipment quality checks! Other such instances of deliberate sabotage included denting a freshly made car so it would need repairs, using parts specific to one model on another model, etc.
An NDTV report suggested that a fire broke out at the Manesar plant earlier today “as thousands of protesting workers locked its main gates trapping officials inside”. This report said the labour unrest followed the suspension of a worker by the company.
Last month, a report in the Economic Times had said that the Haryana Labour Department has initiated proceedings against Maruti Suzuki executives for allegedly violating the signed agreement of October 19, 2011 with its workers under provisions of labour laws for its Manesar plant.
This report further said that the company has not formed any of the two required committees—Grievance Redressal and Welfare Committee—as promised under the agreement. Also, other critical issues such as wage settlement were also being negotiated between the company and its workers for the last few months without any solution.
Maruti’s Manesar plant produces Swift, A-Star and SX4 models.