Maruti Suzuki India on Sunday dismissed 10 workers, terminated five trainees and suspended 10 employees as India’s largest car manufacturer struggled to reassert control over its Manesar factory, which has been virtually under the control of striking workers since Friday evening. In a statement, it said that it had acted against the workers in connection with the violence at the Manesar factory premises.
The company also said that it had ‘rescued’ 100 workers who, it alleged, were being ‘held under duress’ by striking workers. Trade union leaders, on the other hand, alleged that three workers at a factory owned by another Suzuki subsidiary had been injured in ‘firing’ on Sunday morning.
“On Saturday, the company had similarly rescued 355 workers with the help of the police. Many of these workers had been beaten up by the striking workers,” the statement claimed. “With the rescue of about 450 people, the number of striking workers in the factory premises has come down to around 1,500. About 170 regular workers have stayed away from the strike from the start,” the statement read.
The company said the strike and the violence violated an agreement between the workers and the company management signed on October 1 in the presence of Haryana government officials. “We are trying to solve the issue within the contours of the October 1 agreement which was agreed to by all workers as well as the Maruti management. There is no scope for fresh protest as all issues were worked out and agreed upon by all the concerned parties,” said a senior official of Haryana Labour Department, who preferred not to be named.
The Haryana government is fighting two battles. Besides attempting to resolve the ongoing crisis at Maruti Suzuki, the entire top Congress political brass is pre-occupied by the highly sensitive by-election for the Hissar constituency, where anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has asked voters to vote against the ruling Congress.
These compulsions may prevent an immediate solution to the ongoing problem, say industry insiders. As part of the October 1 agreement, the workers had agreed to sign a good conduct bond stipulating, among other things, that they would not damage cars on the assembly line. The company, for its part, had agreed to reinstate 18 trainees. But workers at the Manesar plant again went on strike on Friday afternoon. The total number of workers on strike inside the Manesar plant was around 2,000, including categories such as regular and contractual workers, apprentices and trainees.