Manesar unrest: strengthened unions start talking tough

New Delhi: Emboldened by the spotlight on woes of workers in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt of Haryana in the last two weeks, workers in the Maruti Suzuki facility and surrounding units have begun renewing their demands to regularise contract labour and increase minimum wages.

Speaking to Firstpost, the General Secretary of Suzuki Powertrain Union Rajesh Kumar said this demand has been placed before the Maruti management earlier.

"We are a comparatively new union, established in June last year. At that time also, we asked for contract labour to regularised but knew that such a huge demand would not be met immediately. Now, after what has happened at the Maruti plant in Manesar, we will renew our demand," Kumar said.

Unions are seeking better deals for employees. Reuters

Kumar has just succeeded in getting 2,000 permanent workers a Rs 10,500 raise after a long wage negotiation settlement so that a permanent worker at Suzuki Powertrain India Limited (SPIL) now draws a Cost-to-Company (CTC) of Rs 23,500, perhaps one of the best salaries in the entire Gurgaon-Manesar belt. The SPIL plant has a total workforce of 4,000, meaning every second worker is on contract. For a employee on contract, even after the latest wage settlement he draws just about Rs 8,000 a month, a third of what a permanent employee is entitled to.

A union representative of the Hero MotoCorp's Gurgaon plant said the union's first meeting with the management was held earlier today and among other demands, they also sought contract labour in the plant be regularised. In this plant, contract labour far outnumbers permanent workers with 3,000-3,500 on contract versus just about 1,100 regularised employees.

The representative, who asked not to be named, said that the Trade Union Council, a joint body representing all unions in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt, has already petitioned the Haryana Chief Minister for raising minimum wages to Rs 15,000 a month. At present, a contract worker at the Hero production facility takes home under Rs 5,000 each month.

Kuldeep Janghu, General Secretary of the Maruti Kamgaar Union (Gurgaon plant) has also sought regularisation of workers. For him, the task is even more daunting since there are 5,000-5,500 contract workers at Maruti's Gurgaon plant versus just 3,000 regular employees and another 700-800 apprentices. Here, a young permanent worker has CTC of Rs 15,000-18,000 whereas experienced hands get a CTC of up to Rs 25,000 a month. Again, the contract workers draws much less at just Rs 7,500.

Maruti MD Shinzo Nakanishi said last week that all contract workers at the Manesar facility would be regularised by March 2013. About 900 permanent workers and 2,100 on contract were employed at this plant before the lockout. But given the fragile situation in not just its Manesar facility but the entire industrial belt of Haryana, more and more automobile manufacturers will have to regularise workers to buy loyalty.


Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 10:42 AM

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