INDIA: Massive security force to police Maruti restart as suppliers express relief

By Simon Warburton | 16 August 2012

India's supplier association has breathed a "sigh of relief" following news Maruti-Suzuki is to restart production next week at its partially-destroyed Maneser plant, although employees face the prospect of vast security when they return.

The Delhi automaker confirmed it would start work on 21 August with India's Automotive Component Manufacturer's Association (ACMA) welcoming the news that will see Maruti start small-scale production before ramping back up to former levels of to 1,700 units per day.

"I guess it is a sigh of relief for the component manufacturers," ACMA executive director, Vinnie Metah, told just-auto from Delhi. "We definitely are very glad they are starting production.

"We hope everybody will now work in harmony towards the larger goal of developing the automotive industry and the nation at large."

News of Maruti's resumption of work follows a meeting of ACMA members at the automaker's headquarters in the Indian capital to discuss the severe impact of the violence that left one senior manager dead and one hundred staff in hospital. 

Maruti confirmed what a pan-Indian union leader told just-auto last week, that the State government of Haryana would provide police protection to the plant with 500 officers divided into 100 per shift, while personal guards would be assigned to managers, supervisors and "where necessary," workers.

In addition to those substantial numbers, Maruti will also provide security at staff homes, although it is not clear to what level of employee this applies. Unions have previously complained of dire conditions for many Maruti contract workers, who often live ten to a room with no sanitation or toilet facilities.

On top of even these measures, Maruti will also provide a force of 100 security guards - some of them ex-servicemen - at the Manesar site.

"We believe these measures, and the continuing efforts of the Haryana government and its police force, to investigate, arrest and prosecute the criminals involved in the violence on 18 July, will create a safe environment for work to resume," said a Maruti statement. "Based on internal investigations, the company has identified those workers who were involved in the violence and in whom the company has lost confidence.

"The company has taken note of the fact only a few months back, following a mutually agreed settlement, these workers had signed a good conduct undertaking. These workers will not be taken back. In accordance with the declared policy to not employ contract workers provided by contractors, on the direct production line, the company has started the process of directly hiring them.

"The schedule of recruitment has been communicated to all the existing contract workers through the contract agencies and recruitment would start from 2 September."