Maruti Suzuki India is awaiting a report by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on violence at its Manesar facility on 18 July, after which the plant has been under an indefinite lockout. With the culprits still at large and losses piling up, what should the country’s largest car maker do to get back in form? Analysts estimate losses of about Rs 60 crore a day.
It may not be wise perhaps to redeploy the same contract workers who have allegedly perpetrated the violence. But if these people are not employed again, the company stands to face more hostility from them so large scale sackings appear unwise at this juncture. A leader of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) told Firstpost on Wednesday that the large number of workers who came from nearby villages and fled after the incident are being persecuted by the state police.
“They do not even have a leadership anymore…..anyway, the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) which was registered recently did not have any contact with AITUC or any other established unions so even we are unable to offer any support to its workers. Maruti needs to lift the lockout but where will it find workers to build cars now?
So where does Maruti go from here? Ashish Nigam and Kunal Jhaveri of Antique Stockbroking have some suggestions after having visited the Manesar belt and holding extensive discussions with stakeholders. To begin with, the two analysts have suggested that Maruti should transfer/swap Manesar plant supervisors and managers to its Gurgaon facility, where peace prevails.
Not only should the car maker separate “the bad apples, i.e. the 130 odd workers who seem to have instigated the others….it might even be a good idea to meet the contractual worker’s demands of a higher wage/better position in the company”.
In effect, Nigam and Jhaveri are suggesting that the company should again begin the dialogue process with its workers.
Also, on the prospect of production shifting to Gujarat, the Antique analysts said, “They might consider setting up higher capacity than earlier planned….. but even if they do rush things up, there is a limit to how much things can be preponed and hence the plant will not come up before 2015…..Hence, whether they like it or not, they will be dependent on Manesar till 2015.”
Speaking to Firstpost earlier, National Trade Union Initiative’s (NTUI) Gautam Mody had also stressed on a renewed dialogue with workers for things to look up a Manesar. He had also demanded that the complete CCTV footage of the day be released to the public so that the real culprits could be punished. The only problem is that the shed which housed these cameras inside the Manesar facility was destroyed in the fire that broke out on the 18 July.
On Wednesday, a large gathering—which some trade union leaders claimed consisted of 8,000-9,000 people—under the aegis of the Trade Union Council showed support to the workers’ cause at Manesar and submitted its demand to the Chief Minister’s Office. Among these demands is raising the minimum wage to Rs 15,000 per month for a contract worker.