New Delhi: A cursory look at Maruti Suzuki India’s latest Annual Report for 2011-12 and you could be forgiven for feeling reassured that all is well with the country’s largest car maker.
Though one of its manufacturing facilities (Manesar) has been under lockout for the last 21 days after a deadly riot left one dead and scores injured on 18 July, there is nothing in the report to indicate either this lockout or previous industrial relations issues which happened repeatedly in FY12.
The mistrust between workers and the Maruti management, which has been apparent in three instances of plant closure last year before the incident in July, is therefore not documented. Though comments by Chairman R C Bhargava and MD S Nakanishi must have been incorporated in the report before the July incident, it still doesn’t explain why the top people managing the country’s largest car maker wouldn’t want to discuss what happened at Manesar last year and how was the issue resolved, if at all.
In the report, Nakanishi says his company is very employee friendly and has created prosperity for its workmen by involving them in decision making. “(the company) has benefitted from their commitment and competence. We had an unfortunate labour strike at our Manesar plant which impacted business in the short term, but led us to take measures that will benefit us in the long term.”
This, despite Maruti acknowledging earlier that it has failed to maintain agreements signed with workers on the creation of the Works Committee and the Grievance Committee, which was part of the October 19, 2011, agreement. Both committees have not been formed yet. This may have been because of reluctance on the workers’ part but the formation of these committees would have increased the trust of common workers who form the backbone of Maruti’s manufacturing operations.
In his comments, Bhargava stresses on the need for good communication to perhaps avoid future industrial relations issues. “In Manesar, we experienced a strike which
led to loss of production and market share. Thanks to the efforts and support from the State Government, as well as the efforts of our own workers and executives, good sense prevailed and we are back to normalcy. I believe everyone has understood that good communication is the only way to ensure the prosperity of the workers and the company.”
Neither Bharagava nor Nakanishi have touched upon the sensitive issues of weeding out contract labour from the twin facilities of Manesar and Gurgaon – in their interaction with media after the July 18 incident, both had said that this decision has already been communicated to the workers and no contract workers would be used on the shopfloor after March 2013.
Meanwhile, a story in the Times of India said yesterday that Maruti is conducting an internal probe to identify all those responsible for the violence at Manesar. In the past few days, the company’s top management has met the employees injured in the attack and the supervisors and managers of the Manesar plant.
“The company continues to remain concerned about the safety and security of its people. Hence, it is not in a position to take a decision on resuming operations at the Manesar plant. The injured employees continue to receive medical care and attention,” Maruti said in a statement. General Manager Awanish Kumar Dev was among 100 managers and supervisors injured in the violence on July 18. Several sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised.