INDIA: Maruti Suzuki hunger strike off but simmering unrest bubbles
Demonstrators have called off their hunger strike in protest at Maruti Suzuki's sacking of 546 workers, but considerable unrest continues to plague the Indian automaker.
Maruti Suzuki dismissed the staff this summer following a bout of extreme violence at its Manesar plant that left one manager dead and a hundred hospitalised.
"The unrest [is] because they dismissed 546 workers," All India Trades Union Congress (AITUC) national secretary, Darshan Sachdev, told just-auto from India. "They are protesting why no inquiry has been held - other unions are supporting them."
The AITUC says there are between 35 and 40 unions around the industrial belt in which Manesar is situated, but when members attempted to stage a demonstration yesterday (7 November) outside the State Commissioner's office, police arrested 32 of them, although they have subsequently been released.
The use of hunger strikes however, appears to be a new tactic in the workers' bitter dispute with Maruti management that at one time saw 4,000 staff locked out at the plant producing Swift and Dzire models.
"A hunger strike went up to 16:00 today (8 November) and they were joined by other unions," said Sachdev. "Around 200 workers out of those who have been dismissed went on hunger strike. There were 1,000 workers [in total] who demonstrated [today].
"We are calling for a high level inquiry into the whole incident that resulted in this fire."
The State of Haryana took a keen interest in the trouble at Maruti this year, offering to provide a police battalion, many of them armed, to protect the plant, with reports some 1,200 were deployed around the site.
Last month, Suzuki reported a 5.4% fall in second fiscal quarterly profit, its fifth straight such dip, after it was hit by production losses due to the deadly labour unrest.
Net profit fell to US$42m in the three months to September, down from INR2.4bn a year earlier and lower than market forecasts.
Maruti Suzuki in India was not immediately available for comment.