By BS Reporter
The country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), on Saturday declared a lockout at its Manesar facility, where a violent scuffle between workers and the management had led in the death of a senior management executive on Wednesday. Over 100 management executives were also injured.
“There is now a lockout. To me, safety of my colleagues is more important than producing some cars to make some money,” said MSIL Chairman R C Bhargava. Operations will not resume at the unit till investigation into the incident is completed and corrective measures put in place to prevent any recurrence.
MSIL employs 1,545 permanent workers and an equal number of contract workers at the Manesar unit. With the company not specifying a timeline when the operations might resume at Manesar, uncertainty now looms over the fate of these 3,000-odd workers.
Bhargava clarified the lockout did not imply the company was looking at shifting its unit to an alternative site. “Talks of Maruti moving out of Manesar is absolute fiction. We are not moving. Maruti is flag-bearer of industrialisation in Haryana,” Bhargava said.
The Manesar unit, which manufactures 1,600 vehicles a day on an average, currently accounts for 45 per cent of MSIL’s overall production. The facility rolls out some of the company’s best-selling models like the premium hatchback Swift and sedan Swift DZire.
Bhargava said the company had requested the Haryana government to expedite the inquiry into the incident. Besides, the company has resolved to conduct an internal enquiry to gauge the factors that resulted in the eruption of violence at the facility. The company would take back the workers who were innocent but those named and identified in connection with the standoff would stand dismissed.
Meanwhile, Haryana Industry Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said violence at Manesar plant “appears” to be a “concerted” plan to disrupt industrial peace in the state. “We have got some indications. It appears it (the Maruti incident) was a designed and concerted plan to disrupt industrial peace,” Surjewala said.
The production loss at Manesar plant has so far mounted to about Rs 210 crore. In terms of value, the per-day loss stands at about Rs 70 crore.
A standoff between workers and the management had erupted at MSIL’ Manesar unit on Wednesday following an altercation between a permanent worker and his supervisor on the shop floor. The worker was suspended immediately and the union representatives demanded the revocation of his suspension. They were negotiating with management executives when the mob turned violent and beat up officials and set offices within the factory on fire. Close to 2,500 workers were involved in the scuffle.
The incident came within less than a year of the workers and the management inking a settlement agreement at Manesar to bring to an end sporadic instances of labour unrest at the facility. MSIL had seen three instances of labour unrest at its Manesar facility between June and October last year on issues ranging from recognition of an independent union to re-induction of suspended workers and absorption of 1,200-odd contract workers. The three labour strifes together had resulted in a production loss of 74,500 units. Revenue losses to the company had been estimated at Rs 2,200 crore.