Maruti's Manesar crisis worsens, strike enters day 10

The crisis at Maruti's Manesar plant seems to be worsening. The worker's strike is on its 10th day and the facility is still shut. The key demand of the 2,000 workers is recognition of a new union and they also want the option of allowing one-third of its membership from outside the factory.

On Sunday, however, the management agreed to recognise the new trade union, but workers are still not satisfied. "The talks are going on, but the strike is still continuing. The production at the plant is stopped," a company spokesperson said.

The striking workers want all 11 of their sacked colleagues to be reinstated, but Maruti agreed to reinstate only 5. PTI

In the morning, shares of the company were trading 1.19 percent down at Rs 1,215.15 on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The strike has hit production at the plant, which manufactures 1,200 units a day, resulting in a loss of around Rs 390 crore on account of a 7,800-unit hit in output till Saturday.

The striking workers are demanding the recognition of a new union- Maruti Suzuki Employees Union- formed by those working at the Manesar plant, among other things. Mint argues that creation of additional unions will only create inter-union rivalry and lead to further militancy and misery.

However, an Economic Times article argues that the creation of an independent union may not necessarily disrupt work and create trouble. Citing the example of the strong unions in Germany and South Korea, the article says that "these have created a working class that is prosperous and earns enough to drive the economy's consumption engine."

The problem is not the union but the fact that 85 percent of employees in the Haryana industrial belt are contract workers who do not enjoy any of the perks given to regular employees and are paid a fraction of the wages they would have earned as regular employees.

The answer lies in minimising this unequal difference in wages and perks. "Unions should make sure that once pay and perks are equalised, workers cooperate to raise productivity and skill levels. Employers, in turn, should realise that a high churn workforce inevitably leads to uneven standards of quality and productivity", the article argues.

Meanwhile, the company has fired 11 workers last week for allegedly inciting others to go on strike. Workers will continue with their strike unless all sacked colleagues are reinstated. So far Maruti has only agreed to reinstate 5 of the 11 sacked workers.

The unions of various firms in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt, who have been supporting their colleagues at the Maruti facility, will hold public meetings at the gates of 60-65 factories today to raise awareness among workers in the region about the issues at the plant.

The All-India Trade Union Congress, which is leading the agitation along with other unions such as the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said workers in the region will hold a two-hour tool-down strike on Tuesday to mark solidarity.

(With inputs from PTI)