India: After abuse of Dalit worker, Maruti Suzuki autoworkers rebel, attack management–plant shut down, workers arrested

Maruti unrest: Manesar plant shut indefinitely, 99 workers arrested

by Naresh Sharma/Firstpost, Jul 19, 2012

[Around 500 policemen are at the Manesar plant. Photo: Naresh Sharma/Firstpost]

99 workers arrested, company still assessing damage at facility

4:03 As the Maruti workers and management blamed each other for the unrest at the Manesar plant, almost 100 workers were arrested on Thursday. Over 1,000 policemen have now been deployed at the factory and work has been suspended indefinitely. A case has also been registered against 60 workers for attempt to murder and damage to property. The company also said nearly 100 executives have been hospitalised after workers and members of the management clashed on Wednesday afternoon. The company has, in a statement, accused the workers of setting the plant on fire.

A Maruti spokesperson told CNBC-TV18 that a decision on when operations will be resumed at the Manesar plant will be announced soon as the company is still assessing the damage at its property and the facility. The company, however, clarified that the there has been no  damage to the production line. Only  administrative offices have been destroyed.

Victim identified as HR manager

3:02 The victim who was  burnt during the fire has now been identified as Avnish Kumar Dev, General Manager, HR. He is suspected to have died of smoke inhalation after he was trapped in the room which was set on fire. The senior official’s body has been identified by his brother-in-law. Dev’s charred remains were found after a fire in portions of the plant, including a control room, was doused.Police arrests 88 Maruti workers, sets up SIT to probe Manesar incident

2:04 pm The Gurgaon Police has said 88 Maruti workera have been arrested in relation to the violent incident at Maruti Suzuki India’s Manesar plant. “So far 88 workers have been arrested,” said DCP Maheshwar, adding that a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Ravinder Tomar with six inspectors to probe the incident.

A supervisor had slapped a worker, one worker had been suspended and there had been peace talks between the management and the labour, confirmed the DCP. The labour had sought that the suspension of the worker should be revoked. The workers then attacked the management, he said.

In order to maintain law and order at the plant, 1,200 policemen have been deployed in and around the area, he added.

Dayal said the dead body, which was burnt beyond recognition has not be identified yet and efforts were on for its identification.

Haryana Director General of Police Ranjiv Singh Dalal, who also inspected the plant this afternoon said: “No justification of such violence can be given. We will soon arrest those who are behind the incident.”

Maruti’s hired goons attacked workers, destroyed property, alleges Union

11:25 The Maruti Worker Union has released a statement and has blamed the company management for resorting to anti-worker and anti-Union activities in a pre-planned manner, which lead to the closure of the Manesar factory on Wednesday. The Union further alleged that management hired hundred of  bouncers on its payroll to attack the workers, who later destroyed company property and set a portion of the factory on fire. “The gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms,” said the workers union in a press release today. However, the union is still keep to negotiate with the company management and amicably resolve the matter and restore industrial peace at the factory, it said.

Maruti’s management resorted to anti-worker activity in a pre-planned manner to corner us, says Union

“As part of the vindictive attitude and in a pre-planned manner, a supervisor in the shop floor abused and made casteist comments against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. Instead of taking action against the said supervisor, the management immediately suspended the worker concerned without any investigation as was demanded by the workers. When the workers along with Union representatives went to meet the HR to demand against the supervisor and revoke the unjust suspension of the worker, the HR officials flatly refused to hear our arguments, and it was in no mood to resolve the issue amicably,” said the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU), in a statement today.

500 policemen at Manesar, Gurgaon police lodges FIR against 60 workers

10:05 am Maruti Suzuki India’s Manesar plant was shutdown on Wednesday  as labour unrest returned to the Haryana plant. Around 500 policemen are at the plant after one person died of burns and 40 managers and executives, including foreign nationals, were injured in violent clashes between the workers and the management.

No damage to Maruti’s production line, CCTV used as evidence

The  Suzuki spokesperson told CNN IBN that the production at Manesar continues to be halted, adding that no damage has been done to the factory’s production line or facilities, but only to the office where the fire started.

The Gurgaon Police have lodged an FIR against about 60 workers, including union leaders at Maruti’s Manesar plant. The management has given some names of union leaders. An FIR has been lodged against around 60 workers,” SHO Manesar Om Prakash told PTI. A case under sections of murder, attempt to murder, causing grievous injuries and damage to properties and other different sections of IPC has been registered against the workers, he added.

CCTV footage has been used for evidence and to piece together what happened on Wednesday evening.

Workers at Maruti’s Manesar plant want govt intervention

Meanwhile Workers have said they would not be going for work till the government intervened and all the culprits were arrested. The company had said yesterday violence broke out in the evening when a worker beat up a supervisor on the shop floor. However, the employees union said “objectionable remarks” by the supervisor against an employee triggered the violence.

Stock crashes 10 percent, loses Rs 100 already

Meanwhile, the Maruti stock has lost ten percent in morning trade as the plant  accounts for a third of the production capacity for the largest car maker in the country. The Manesar plant will see a production loss of around 7,000-8000 units a week.If the plant closes for more than seven days, it could hurt the company™s net profit. A one-day closure costs Maruti  Rs 73 crore in revenue and Rs 8 crore in operating profit. If it closes for two weeks, the sales loss could be Rs 1,100 crore and operating loss of Rs 121 crore.

AITUC says labour dept may have to resolve dispute at Maruti

10 am Following the labour unrest at Maruti’s Manesar plant, the All India Trade Union Congress said high-handedness by the company’s management is what escalated the scuffle between the workers and Maruti. The management should have addressed the situation with more sensitivity, the Union said, adding that the labour department intervention may now be required to resolve the dispute.

Referringto it as the ‘high-handedness’ of the management,VL Sachdeva, Head of AITUC  told CNBC-TV18 that the union was chosen by Maruti and therefore, such a situation is really surprising.But looking at the recurring troubles at this particular factory, he believes it may lead to a shutdown.

Maruti’s Manesar plant shut, 20 arrested, 50 detained

9:00 Production at India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India’s Manesar plant in Haryana has once again come to a halt following a scuffle between workers and the management on Wednesday afternoon. The company shut down the plant on Wednesday after a  fire broke out on the premises, but it was not clear how it started.

While the workers alleged that the scuffle broke out after a supervisor made castiest remarks against a dalit worker, management sources said some of the senior officials at the plant were severely beaten up.

“The supervisor made castiest remark against a permanent worker, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste category. When we opposed it, they misbehaved  even further and suspended the worker,” Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU) General Secretary Sarabjeet Singh told PTI.

However, the company has blamed the workers for starting the fire, and said they had injured at least 40 executives and managers. The company statement alleged a worker had beaten up a supervisor on the shop floor. It also claimed that the union prevented the management from taking disciplinary action, and that they instead prevented executives from leaving the factory and held them hostage.

One of the workers  confirmed that there were violent fights between them and management employees, and said: “Right now work is completely stopped and we are vacating the plant.”

The workers allegedly set property on fire and ransacked the premises. The fire started around 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday in the human resource department and spread to the paint shop where it was put out around 9 p.m. said an official.

Unfortunately, the fire resulted in the death of one person, while 85 others have been  injured because of the scuffle.

Three company officials have been admitted to a hospital. Twenty workers have been arrested and more arrests are expected to follow. A case has also been registered against 50 workers for attempt to murder and damage to property.

Maruti said to resolve the issue amicably, members of the senior management met the union. During the talks, the workers attacked the members of the senior management, executives and managers, it alleged. But the Unions contested this version ans said that when the union apposed the supervisor’s castiest remark, the management misbehaved and suspended the workers.

Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU) General Secretary Sarabjeet Singh also  claimed that the union has spoken to the management representatives, but with no positive outcome yet. “There is tension prevailing at the plant. About 1,500 workers of the morning shift have not left the complex so far. If the management does not take back the worker, we may stop our work,” Singh had said last night.

Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU told CNN IBN that the incident was very unfortunate and should not have happened. “Earlier also in the Maruti trouble we have seen it is the inept handling by the management and also bulldozing the workers on every other issue has led to the earlier unrest in the Maruti Manesar plant,” he said.

The source of provocation  needs to be inquired into and then the appropriate corrective action needs to be taken so that these things does not erupt at all, he added. He also said that instead of detaining workers, an impartial enquiry should be issued.

The Manesar unit employs over 2,000 workers and the plant remains shut even today as workers had already started vacating the premises yesterday.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has also promised stern action against the culprits. Hooda said DGP Dalal had already rushed to Gurgaon to ensure that law and order is maintained at all cost.

The plant has seen continuing worker unrest, including three work stoppages last year that severely affected production.

Last year, MSI had witnessed three separate instances of labour unrest at its Manesar plant, which mainly produces the Swift, causing a total production loss of about 83,000 units.

In June 2011, a 13-day strike demanding the recognition of the erstwhile Maruti Suzuki Employees’ Union (MSEU) had brought production to a standstill at the plant. It was followed by another standoff between the management and the workers on August 29 and had lasted for 33 days.

In October 2011, the company again saw its workers going on a 14-day strike that ended after the signing of a tripartite agreement between the management, workers and Haryana government representatives.

Following the settlement, a new body — MSWU — was formed after the office-bearers of MSEU had left the firm after taking a severance package of minimum Rs 16 lakh each.

The plant assembles or makes popular models like Swift, Dzire, SX4, A-Star and the newly launched Ertiga. The average realisation of sales or revenue per car at Manesar is Rs 4,00,000 against overall realisation of Rs 3,00,000.

According to analysts, if the plant closes for even a day it costs Maruti Suzuki Rs 73 crore in revenue and Rs 8 crore in operating profit.

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