M A I N   N E W S

Violence at maruti plant
Management, Labour Dept ignored warning signals
Sunit Dhawan/TNS

Gurgaon, July 21
The situation prevailing on the Manesar campus of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) following arson and assault on senior executives and managers has exposed the failure of the company management as well as the state Labour Department in anticipating the impending crisis and not taking timely steps to prevent such a drastic fallout.

On Wednesday, MSIL workers not only vandalised the Manesar plant and set afire its HR section, but they also attacked the top managers and senior executives of the company. While the General Manager (HR) was killed in the incident, scores of other senior functionaries were injured. More than 90 workers were arrested for the violence.

The circumstances that led to the situation are not clear yet. Though the workers were not satisfied at the management's stance on their demands of pay revision and enhancement of benefits, there seemed to be no instant provocation for violence. There was a worker-supervisor clash and consequent suspension of the worker.

Sources said some other workers, including top executives of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, had been suspended in the recent past, but no such protest was witnessed at that time.

If the company management is to be believed, it was not a simple matter of industrial-relation dispute between workers and management. The MSIL management has alleged that the arson and assault were pre-planned and had nothing to do with the negotiations over the revision of wages.

The conspiracy angle has also emerged, with several senior government functionaries alleging that the whole episode was the outcome of a deep-rooted plot.

Though MSIL has been facing issues related to labour unrest in the past, strikes and standoffs have become more frequent over the past few months.

When the trouble erupted last year, it was mainly over the issue of constitution of a workers' union. There was a union at the Manesar plant, but the company management did not recognise it and it could not be registered.

The agitation over the issue was widespread and the protesters were backed by Left-wing trade organisations. A series of protests and demonstrations followed, due to which the company and its ancillary units and other related agencies suffered losses to the tune of thousands of crores.

Several sessions of tripartite talks among MSIL management, workers and government functionaries were held in a bid to resolve the crisis. However, at a later stage, the Left-wing trade bodies withdrew their support, perhaps as the Maruti union leaders started negotiating on their own terms and conditions.

Finally, the MSIL management got rid of the then workers' union leaders and activists after giving them hefty settlement amounts towards the end of last calendar year. However, just when the company management started feeling complacent, fresh trouble of a much larger magnitude erupted.

The manner in which workers set afire their own plant and brutally attacked senior managers indicates that there is something more than what meets the eye.





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