Vendors extend help to Maruti operations at Manesar facility

Vendors extend help to Maruti operations at Manesar facility

New Delhi: With Maruti Suzuki India Ltd struggling to produce cars at its Manesar plant due to a labour issue, help is coming from its parts suppliers. Over the past week, vendors have sent 22 workers to the car maker’s facility.

“Yes, we have taken some help from vendors. We have deployed them at our plants for quality checks," a spokesperson for Maruti said.

A similar exercise was carried out in 2000-01 when workers at Maruti’s Gurgaon plant went on a three-month strike demanding a revision of incentive-linked pay and the reinstatement of suspended employees.

Maruti has halted production at the Manesar factory saying it will only allow in those workers who have signed a “good conduct bond", citing indiscipline and sabotage over the past two months following a strike in June.

The car maker has increased its temporary workforce from 340 as on 30 August to more than 1,000 workers as the lockout entered its 13th day on Friday. Last week, it started snap recruitments to augment production at the plant. The latest lockout has hit production of at least 15,000 cars, according to the company spokesperson.

At least 2,500 workers—both permanent and contract—are locked out outside the plant.

“Whatever is happening at Manesar is very unfortunate. It may impact our business, but we know that we have grown with the company and Maruti has protected our interest on time-to-time basis," said Deepak Chopra, chief executive, Anand Group, which supplies steering equipment to the car maker.

“We are sending our workers to work at Maruti’s plants...a slowing demand gives us some room to extend our support to Maruti during this crisis," he said.

Osamu Suzuki, chairman of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp., the parent of Maruti, said the company will not compromise on discipline. Suzuki, on a visit to India, conveyed this in a meeting with the representatives of Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, the elected union body of Maruti Suzuki workers that operates from the Gurgaon plant. “Indiscipline is not tolerated…not in Japan, not in India," Suzuki told the union members.

JBM Auto Ltd and Caparo India, too, have sent workers to Maruti’s plant. Caparo officials were not immediately available for comment. Nishant Arya, executive director, JBM Auto, credits the cooperation to measures taken after a labour strife a few years earlier.

“The labour unrest during 2008-09 in Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt was gruesome. Although we were not hit by that, Maruti was quick to understand the problem. All of us—top management to factory workers—went through a series of relationship-building processes initiated by a leading consultancy that was hired by Maruti," recalls Arya. “Maruti has been there every time. So you name a crisis and it has stood up for us. So this time all of us are with the company."

The latest developments at the Manesar factory are a continuation of the labour unrest that began in June when workers struck work for 13 days demanding the recognition of a new labour union, the Maruti Suzuki Employees Union.

On Friday, Maruti’s stock declined 2.5% to 1,103.05 on BSE. The Sensex dropped 1.74% to 16,866.97 points.