With no solution emerging even after three weeks of protest, the workers protesting outside Maruti Suzuki India Limited's (MSIL's) factory at Manesar, close to here in Gurgaon district, on Sunday agreed to compromise on key demands.
People involved in the negotiations said the workers' representatives have agreed to sign the controversial 'good conduct bond' and are willing to end the protest if MSIL agrees to take back a majority of suspended workers.
MSIL declined to comment on the status of the negotiations.
Sunder Lal, state president of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, who has been involved in the ongoing negotiations, said a solution appeared in sight as both sides were willing to compromise. He said the workers would sign the bond, if the company can "slightly alter the language".
According to Lal, the negotiations are now over the fate of the suspended workers. Since the protest began, MSIL has taken action against 62.
Meetings were held through the day between representatives of the workers, MSIL and the labour commissioner at Gurgaon's Gymkhana Club.
Shiv Charan Lal Sharma, labour minister of Haryana, said he felt 'helpless', as the state was suffering a huge revenue loss each day. "All my hopes are on tomorrow. The workers are adamant. When some of them have damaged cars, the company is within its rights to demand an inquiry," Sharma said.
Kuldeep, president of the Maruti Suzuki Kamgaar Union, the only recognised union of the company, and involved in on Sunday's talks (the strikers wanted a rival union recognised), agreed the workers were willing to take back some of their demands.
"The company has suspended 29 workers, terminated 18 trainees and another 15 regular workers have been dismissed. We are asking the company to not terminate the trainees, as they are too young. Both sides have to climb down if a solution has to emerge," he said.
D L Sachdeva, general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress, said a solution would emerge if MSIL revoked the suspension of workers. He agreed the workers were ready to sign the good conduct bond if MSIL "toned down its language".
"If Maruti takes the suspended workers back the issue will be resolved. The workers will sign the good conduct bond if certain conditions are removed from the bond," he said.
According to a company spokesperson, production had resumed at Manesar and the company manufactured 300 Swift cars.
On Thursday, production was halted at the Manesar plant after production of engines at Suzuki Powertrain couldn't go ahead, following the decision of the union to go on strike in solidarity with the workers at Manesar.
The present protest by workers began on August 29, after they refused to sign the good conduct bond, which MSIL had made mandatory.
The bond, among other things, said if any worker was found 'indulging in any activity such as go-slow, intermittent stoppage of work, stay-in-strike, work-to-rule, sabotage or any other activity having the effect of hampering normal production', he shall be liable for punishment.
The workers said it took away their fundamental right to protest.