Mumbai/Manesar: Some 250 protesting workers at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s Manesar plant have left the premises even as a stand-off continued between the employees and the management for the sixth day running over the recognition of a new labour union.
Labour representatives said the workers, representing about one-tenth of the 2,000 labourers who have struck work since Saturday, left because the company cut electricity and water supply and shut the toilets at the facility.
Anupam Malik, joint labour commissioner, Haryana, confirmed 250 workers have indeed left the factory but said they were not denied basic amenities.
Executives at Maruti denied the charge.
Workers at the Manesar plant are demanding among other things that the carmaker official recognize the labour union they have formed— Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU).
The Manesar unit produces the Swift, Dzire and SX4 models.
“I fell sick. I was relieved at 3am as there was no medicine in the factory’s dispensary,” said one of the workers who has left the factory, declining to be identified. “There is only one toilet open for 2,500 workers. (The) rest have been locked.”
R.C. Bhargava, chairman at Maruti Suzuki, said the company has not stopped water and electricity supply or shut the toilets in the factory. “It’s rubbish; there is a continuous supply of food and other essentials like medicines.”
The worker quoted above said the labourers at Manesar are demanding a separate union because their demands on regulating working hours and reasonable lunch breaks, among other things, were not paid heed to by the existing union at Maruti’s Gurgaon plant.
Production loss so far for Maruti, the country’s largest car maker by sales, owing to the work stoppage is at least 5,000 units, said M.M. Singh, the company’s managing executive officer for production. Notional revenue loss because of the strike is estimated at Rs250 crore.
S. Mahadevan, deputy general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc), said that under International Labour Organization norms, every worker has the right to form a union. “The management’s condition that the union should not be politically affiliated is fundamentally flawed.”
Mahadevan said workers from 50 labour unions in the adjoining areas will join the Manesar workers if their demands are not met.
“We will not allow this to escalate into a law and order situation,” Malik said. “We are in dialogues with all the labour unions in the area and none of them is supporting the agitation. While some of them did send their representatives to attend the 4pm meeting, they are not willing to join the stir.”
Meanwhile, with drivers also joining the protest, about 40,000 cars remain parked at Maruti’s yard in Manesar, which could delay deliveries to buyers.