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Maruti strike: 11 workers sacked, production halted

Last updated on: June 6, 2011 15:21 IST

Maruti strike: 11 workers sacked, production halted

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Car maker Maruti Suzuki India on Monday sacked 11 workers employed at its Manesar facility, which has been crippled by a strike since Saturday.

"The services of 11 persons, who were inciting workers to go on an illegal strike and created an atmosphere where safety of people were in danger, have been terminated," Maruti Suzuki India chairman R C Bhargava told PTI.

The company's stock was trading at Rs 1,215.50 apiece in early trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday, down 1.46 per cent from the previous close.

Bhargava said the workers had gone on strike without any notice but added the management is continuing the dialogue with the striking workers.

Refusing to accept the worker's demand, Bhargava said: "There is no other union... If they have any issue, they should have at first written to us and discussed with us."

He, however, said the company is hopeful of finding an amicable solution soon.

-- PTI, Business Standard

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Photographs: Reuters
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According to workers sources, the sacked employees include eight office bearers of the newly formed union, Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU), besides three other workers.

"We will resist any forcible move to evict those 11 people from the factory premises... The strike will continue," an agitator said.

Meanwhile, production at the plant came to a complete halt and the company is estimated to have incurred a loss of about 1,200 units so far as the workers' strike entered the third day.

"The situation remains the same as of now (as yesterday's)," a company spokesperson said.

The strike comes at a time when MSI has seen slowing down of sales in the recent past as the auto industry grapples to overcome challenges of rising fuel prices and interest rates.

In May, MSI's domestic sales grew by just 3.9 per cent to 93,519 units from 90,041 units in May, 2010.


Photographs: Reuters
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On Saturday, about 2,000 workers employed at  the plant struck work from the second shift of the day.

Striking workers are demanding the recognition of a new union -- Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) -- formed by those working at the Manesar plant, besides retaining contract labourers for the two upcoming new units inside the complex.

Refraining from any disciplinary action against the 11 office bearers of the new union is another demand.

According to senior officials of MSI, who wished not to be named, the company has so far incurred a production loss of about 1,200 units till the first shift of operations on Monday.

The plant rolls out about 1,200 units every day in two shifts. While the first shift operates between 7.30 am and 4 pm, the second shift starts at 4 pm and ends at 12.30 am.

The workers said the company currently has one union, Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, which is mainly dominated by those working at the Gurgaon facility.


Photographs: Reuters
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Management sources say the strike is being backed by the All India Trade Union Congress, affiliated to the Communist Party of India, which is spreading into Gurgaon and nearby areas and has been increasingly targeting auto companies, including Hero Honda and Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India, and auto component companies.

Maruti has had a record of peaceful relationship with the union. The last strike occurred in 2001 when production was stopped for three months.

Strikes targeting the auto sector and supported by AITUC have been common in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal zone and reflect the unions' bid to increase clout in the area. After all, 60 per cent of the country's auto production happens in this area.

What has made it easier for unions is the fact that 80 per cent of the 1 million workers in this auto hub have been hired on contract.

Experts say AITUC, which tried to increase clout in Maruti in the 90s, has gained influence by playing a key role in negotiating wages at HMSI in 2007. HMSI had faced violent strikes in 2005 and then again in 2007.

The union's clout was also seen when workers of over 70 automobile companies such as Hero Honda and HMSI joined a one-day strike a few years ago.

The strike was in protest against the death of a 26-year-old worker of component maker RICO Auto in a clash between two groups of employees.


Photographs: Reuters
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