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Even as the country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, is gearing up to increase production at its Manesar unit in Haryana, 546 dismissed workers at the facility are set to start a two-day agitation beginning tomorrow, seeking reinstatement.
The sacked workers have constituted a seven-member provisional working committee (PWC) under the aegis of the non-functional Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU).
While workers at the Manesar facility have pledged support and agreed to join the hunger strike on Wednesday, representatives of the Gurgaon-based Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU) have indicated they would join a protest rally on Thursday to express solidarity, PWC members claimed.
“The company had sacked 546 workers, around 150 of whom are in jail. We are all going on a two-day hunger strike to protest against our dismissal. The workers inside the Manesar factory will join the hunger strike but will continue production work,” Om Prakash, a PWC member said.
“We want the reinstatement of all colleagues not charged by the special investigation team (SIT) and a proper and unbiased inquiry into the incident,” he added.
Maruti Suzuki had cut by a third its regular workforce and dismissed 546 employees in connection with the violent labour unrest at its Manesar facility on July 18. The incident had resulted in the death of a senior human resource executive and left injured around 100 officials in the company.
The company had declared a month-long lock-out at Manesar, which had led to production loss of 77,000 units. Earlier in August, MUKU representatives had approached visiting chairman of parent Suzuki Motor Corp Osamu Suzuki to re-induct the sacked employees at Manesar, but the company had categorically ruled out any such action.
“We will not participate in the hunger strike but will support the rally on Thursday”, said Kuldeep Jhangu, general secretary of MUKU.
Though the company declined to comment on the latest agitation, sources at Maruti Suzuki said operations at both factories were likely to remain unaffected. “Production is normal at Manesar. By December, we plan to roll out 1,950 cars per day, compared to the 1,700 units we produced in July,” said a company executive, requesting anonymity.
Maruti Suzuki currently has around 4,000 workers at Manesar. The company plans to increase the strength of the workforce at the unit by another 500 employees by next month.
It is in the process of regularising the 1,870 contract workers it had at the unit prior to the unrest on July 18. The move is in line with the company’s decision to hire only permanent or regular employees for core production activities post instances of labour unrest at the Manesar unit.
The protests from former workers have come at a time when the employees’ union at Gurgaon and permanent workers at Manesar have already inked a historic wage settlement package with the management.
Earlier in September, Maruti Suzuki increased gross salary by Rs 14,800 per month spread over a period of three years for permanent workers. While 75 per cent of the gross salary increment will be given in the first year, Maruti Suzuki will give 12.5 per cent each in the second and third years.
Meanwhile, the SIT, formed by the Haryana government, had concluded the violence perpetrated at the Manesar plant in July was due to internal issues between the management and workers and ruled out the external influence as was suspected by the company. The record wage hike and concessions outlined recently are expected to promote satisfaction and welfare of workers, informed sources in the company.