After a spate of strikes in the Gurgaon-Manesar auto cluster, labour unrest now seems to be brewing in Maharashtra.
Workers at utility vehicle major Mahindra & Mahindra’s Nashik facility on Tuesday issuing a notice to the management to go on strike on or after March 11, if their demands for higher wages were not settled by the company.
Production work, too, was temporarily disrupted in two assembly shops at M&M’s Nashik unit for about three hours on Tuesday, resulting in a loss of 90 units.
The company produces high-volume utility vehicles Xylo, Scorpio, Bolero and sedan Verito at the Nashik unit.
M&M confirmed it has received a notice from the employees’ union at the facility.
The workers at the Nashik have been agitating for higher wages after the three-year wage pact lapsed earlier in February this year.
According to industry sources, wage negotiations have been on for over six months between the management and the workers at the company.
The workers have now started showing signs of disquiet and have demanded settlement of their charter of demands by Monday, failing which they would go ahead with a production strike.
Workers at M&M’s Nashik unit had earlier gone on a day-long tool-down strike on May 6, 2011 to demand higher wages for a third of the workforce.
They had also done a fortnight-long strike in May 2009 to protest against the suspension of union leader Madhavrao Dhatrak.
“The management is in regular dialogue with the union for the normal wage negotiation process and will put in its best efforts to reach a mutually agreeable settlement at the earliest possible.
“The appropriate government agencies are being kept informed of the same and are also part of the discussions in this regard,” said M&M.
The company also informed that work had normalised at the Nashik facility from second shift on Tuesday.
“From the second shift, production in all shops of the plant was back to normal.
“There is no material effect of this temporary disruption on the production and operations front and the management is confident that the shortfall in production of around 90 vehicles will be soon made good”, the statement added.
This is the second instance of labour unrest in the auto industry over the past two months. Workers at two-wheeler giant Hero MotoCorp’s Gurgaon unit have been agitating for higher wages for the past two months.
In January, they had temporarily resorted to slowing down production at the unit to press ahead with their demand for increment of over Rs 15,000 in monthly salary spread over a three-year period.
The disturbances at M&M and Hero MotoCorp have come after a series of the record increments in the auto industry, the latest of which has happened at former partner Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India’s Manesar factory.
In a wage pact, which was inked on December 26, 2012, HMSI had increased monthly salary by around Rs 14,770 over a three-year period for 1,800 permanent workers at its Manesar unit.
Soon after lifting the lock-out in August last year, Maruti Suzuki, too, had increased wages by a record 50 per cent or Rs 14,800, for around 2,800 workers at Gurgaon and around 700 workers at Manesar.
At Hyundai also, around 2,000 permanent workers were given an average salary increase (including variable pay) of Rs 14,283 over a three-year period in October 2012.
That’s a 45 per cent hike over the settlement made in 2009, where the average salary increase was Rs 9,820.