Workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s biggest car maker, have demanded that the company double salaries, raising the prospect of another spell of labour trouble after union strife disrupted production last year.
The Manesar factory was rocked by a series of strikes between June and October last year, leading to a production loss of around 100,000 units and a revenue loss of at least Rs 2,500 crore.
The strike ended after the company agreed to consider the demands of the then unrecognized labour union at the plant.
A notice sent to the management last week also demands health benefits, transport facilities and other incentives, union president Ram Meher Singh said.
Labour troubles: A worker at Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Manesar. A series of strikes at the plant last year led to a revnue loss of Rs 2,500 crore. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
A permanent worker now gets a salary of Rs 17,000 per month while a casual worker gets Rs 7,000.
The plant has around 3,000 workers, of which 900 are permanent.
“We have sent the notice to the management, asking them to revisit our pay structure and at least double it,” in the wake of rising inflation, Singh said.
The company spokesperson declined to comment.
It was a case of collective bargaining by the workers and the company didn’t want to react through the media, the spokesperson said.
Maruti, which is to announce annual results on 28 April, is expected to announce a decline in profit after tax, analysts said.
In the last fiscal, sales fell 11.16% to 1,006,316 units while the passenger vehicle industry grew 4.66%.
The labour issue cropping up again at Maruti is cause for concern, said Mahantesh Sabarad, senior vice-president, equity and research, Fortune Equity Brokers India Ltd.
“It’s not what the wage demands are suggesting, but the increased worker alienation that is worrying from an analyst’s perspective,” he said.
Demands last year included a pay revision, better working conditions and an extension of transport facilities.
The company had decided to revise the pay structure at Manesar, which may bring closure to the industrial discord at the facility, Mint reported on 7 January.
India’s biggest car maker had also agreed to the demand for a separate union from the one at the Gurgaon plant, marking a climbdown by Maruti’s management on an issue that it had held out on.
Both Gurgaon and Manesar are located in Haryana.
A pay revision is due, S.Y. Siddiqui, managing executive officer, human resources and administration, had said at the time.
“We have set up a committee, which would evaluate their demands and negotiate those with the company management,” he had said. “The wage settlement process will begin in March and it is expected to be completed by April-May.”
The spokesperson said negotiations are still on regarding wage increases and the company has still not taken a decision on this.
The company’s worst labour crisis since 2001 ended on 21 October with a tripartite agreement among the management, union representatives and the government of Haryana, where India’s largest car maker has its production facilities.
HeroMotoCorp Ltd, the world’s biggest two-wheeler maker, raised salaries towards the end of last year. SuzukiPowertrain India Ltd, a company that supplies engines to Maruti, also revised pay to settle disputes at its plant.