Over two months since India’a largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, was rocked by a 13-day strike at its crucial Manesar plant, workers remain as polarised as ever.
The Haryana government last week rejected an application for the formation of a second union, Maruti Suzuki Employees’ Union (MSEU), but the workers have vowed that they will keep trying, and will file a fresh application later this week, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Manesar factory makes 350,000 cars per annum including the redesigned Swift, which is in great demand. It is central to Maruti’s medium-term expansion plans and another strike would be a setback for it at a time when competition is intensifying.
Almost the entire 1,100 permanent workers at Manesar boycotted the elections for the existing Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, held last month.
“The management and the labour department are putting pressure on the workers to give up the demand for a separate union but it is our fundamental right and we will keep trying,” Shiv Kumar, secretary to the now defunct MSEU, told the Hindustan Times.
“Our application was rejected as we are members of the existing union, and also because the strike happened a day after the application was filed. We are looking to make it foolproof.”
Maruti management acknowledged that around 950 workers at Manesar had been misguided and there was a need to close the communication gap.
“We have to engage the workers at Manesar more so that they are not misguided,” said Shinzo Nakanishi, CEO, Maruti Suzuki India. “It requires a change of mindset. We must be patient.”
“If they (workers) want any kind of improvement in the long term, it can only happen if the company is prospering and is in a position to give them that,” said RC Bhargava, chairman, MSIL. “Confrontation cannot ever help workers.”