On 18th July 2012, Maruti’s Manesar plant was hit by violence as workers at one of its auto factories attacked supervisors and started a fire that killed a company official and injured 100 managers, including two Japanese expatriates. The violent mob also injured 9 policemen.The company’s General Manager of Human Resources had both arms and legs broken by his attackers, unable to leave the building that was set ablaze, and was charred to death. The incident is the worst-ever for Suzuki since the company began operations in India in 1983.
Since April 2012, the Manesar union had demanded a five-fold increase in basic salary, a monthly conveyance allowance of INR 10,000, a laundry allowance of INR 3,000, a gift with every new car launch, and a house for every worker who wants one or cheaper home loans for those who want to build their own houses. In addition to this compensation and normal weekend/holidays, the union demanded the current 4 paid weeks of vacation be increased to 7 weeks, plus each worker have 40 days allowance of sick and casual leave – for a total of 75 days. Initial reports claimed wage dispute and a union spokesman alleged the incident may be caste-related. According to the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union a supervisor had abused and made discriminatory comments to a low-caste worker. These claims were denied by the company and the police.The supervisor alleged was found to belong to a tribal heritage and outside of Hindu caste system; further, the numerous workers involved in violence were not affiliated with caste either. Maruti said the unrest began, not over wage discussions, but after the workers’ union demanded the reinstatement of a worker who had been suspended for beating a supervisor.The workers claim harsh working conditions and extensive hiring of low-paid contract workers which are paid about $126 a month, about half the minimum wage of permanent employees. Maruti employees currently earn allowances in addition to their base wage. Company executives denied harsh conditions and claim they hired entry-level workers on contracts and made them permanent as they gained experience. It was also claimed that bouncers were deployed by the company.
Maruti Suzuki in its statement on the unrest, announced that all work at the Manesar plant has been suspended indefinitely. A Suzuki spokesman said Manesar violence won’t affect the auto maker’s business plans for India. The shut down of Manesar plant is leading to a loss of about Rs 75 crore per day. On July 21, 2012, citing safety concerns, the company announced a lockout under The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 pending results of an inquiry the company has requested of the Haryana government into the causes of the disorder. Under the provisions of The Industrial Disputes Act wages, the report claimed, employees are expected to be paid for the duration of the lockout. On July 26 2012, Maruti announced employees would not be paid for the period of lock-out in accordance with labour laws of India. The company further announced that it will stop using contract workers by March 2013. Source: wikipedia
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