Maruti workers resume work after an hour-long tool down

Maruti workers resume work after an hour-long tool down

New Delhi: Workers at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s second plant in Manesar resumed work after an hour-long tool down strike on Thursday to protest the carmaker initiating disciplinary action against six workers for allegedly assaulting a supervisor.

“Yesterday, some of the workers assaulted one of the supervisors. When the company took a disciplinary action and suspended them today, (the) rest of them struck work," a company spokesperson said.

The workers said it was not a full-scale strike but an hour’s tool down, which the workers estimate would have led to an estimated production loss of at least 60-70 cars.

“We have not done any kind of manhandling with any of the management officials," said Shiv Kumar, general secretary of Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU). The union is not recognized by the management and has applied for registration to the labour commissioner’s head office in Chandigarh. “This is being done as we have gone against the wishes of company management."

The six suspended workers include Kumar and MSEU secretary Rishi Pal.

The hour-long strike began at about 1.45pm, while workers from the first shift were in the factory.

The Manesar plant rolls out about 1,200 units every day in two shifts. The plant has at least 2,500 workers and it manufactures models such as the SX4 and the Swift Dzire sedans and the A-Star hatchback.

Maruti Suzuki has four assembly lines, one in Manesar and three in Gurgaon, with an annual capacity of more than 1.2 million units. The company is setting up two new assembly lines at the Manesar plant to add capacity of 500,000 units by 2013.

Maruti’s new model of its Swift hatchback is to be rolled out from the Manesar facility in August.

“Such instances threaten to prolong the waiting period for the new Swift, which has already seen a booking of over 23,000 units so far," said an industry expert on condition of anonymity.

Maruti has stopped the production of its original Swift hatchback model and will introduce an upgraded version in August. Majority of the Swift’s production is carried out at the Manesar plant.

The company shifted production of the Swift Dzire to its Gurgaon plant after workers at the Manesar plant struck work for 13 days in June over recognition for the new labour union.

The strike was called off following the intervention of Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and with the management agreeing to take back 11 sacked workers and a reduced no-work no-pay penalty.

On the Bombay Stock Exchange, Maruti’s stock fell 1.66% to 1,186.45 on Thursday. The benchmark Sensex index fell 1.21% to 18,209.52 points.