New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd , just recovering from a long strike in its Manesar, Haryana plant that ended 21 october, could see its production of cars being hit again—this time because of labour unrest at an auto parts factory it runs along with its parent.
Suzuki Powertrain India Ltd, a 70:30 partnership between Maruti and Suzuki Motor Corp., supplies diesel engines and other parts to Maruti.
Its workers struck work in October to show their solidarity with workers at Maruti’s Manesar factory, and while they resumed work on 23 October, they have deliberately gone slow over the past two weeks, according to three people familiar with the development.
Joint front: A file photo of Maruti workers on strike. Suzuki Powertrain workers had struck work in October to show their solidarity with workers at Maruti’s Manesar factory.(Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
“There has been a change in the attitude of the workers since they resumed work last month,” said one of the three, a top executive at Suzuki Powertrain, who did not want to be identified. “The production has dropped at least 40% since then.”
Suzuki Powertrain does not interact with the media. A spokesperson for Maruti Suzuki said: “While they have certainly revised their production plan, but supply has been as per the demand.”
Maruti’s latest launch, the remodelled Swift hatchback, has attracted at least 100,000 bookings, of which around 85% are for the diesel version. Demand for diesel cars in India has increased on the back of repeated hikes in petrol prices.
The demands of the workers at Suzuki Powertrain are similar to those made by workers at Maruti last month: better treatment of contract labourers, higher wages, and better work conditions. The leader of the Suzuki Powertrain union, Sube Singh Yadav, is being investigated by the company.
“These issues (the strikes) will take time to settle down,” said Abdul Majeed, auto practice leader at audit and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I think there is a need for better communication with the workers.”
Before they struck work, workers at Maruti’s factory had adopted a similar go-slow approach.
A second person familiar with the development, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the company had promised workers that it would sort out all issues by December.
On a normal day, the powertrain facility produces 960-1,000 engines per day. “In the last two weeks, we have been averaging anywhere around 550-650 engines,” this person, an official at the company, added.
A worker at Suzuki Powertrain denied workers were going slow but complained they had been asked to work more to meet the demand for the new Swift. “They can’t make us work like slaves,” said Rameshwar Prasad. “We are not machines.”