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The Haryana government has rejected the plea of the workers at the Manesar facility of the country’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), to form a second union.
R C Bhargava, chairman, MSIL, said: “The application for forming a second union in the company has been turned down by the government. The situation is fluid, but we are working closely with the employees to resolve the issue.”
While the decision may have temporarily offered reprieve to the MSIL management that has been battling labour discontent over the last two months, the lull is likely to be temporary. Shiv Kumar, general secretary of the proposed Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU), said: “We will continue with our demand for an independent union for workers at the Manesar plant. We are looking at re-applying for registering our own union next week.”
According to sources close to the development, the application for registration of the second union at MSIL has been rejected on the ground that the employees at Manesar are members of Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU). “We had resigned from MUKU, but our resignation was not accepted,” Kumar said.
The Haryana government has further raised objection to the formation of MSEU as the workers at Manesar had gone on strike (on June 4) immediately after applying for the second union. Since then labour unrest has prevailed at the facility with workers at the factory going on an hour-long tool-down strike on July 28. The agitation had surfaced over suspension of four employees for “breach of discipline”. Nearly 950 workers at the plant had also boycotted MSIL’s union elections held on July 16. They had insisted, since they had resigned from MUKU and verification for their own union was underway, they did not wish to participate in the election process.
“It has always been our policy to have one union for all workers, with the union having no outsiders as members. We are making efforts to communicate with our workers at Manesar, change will come about gradually through education,” said Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director, MSIL.
On June 4, workers at the plant had gone on a 13-day strike demanding the recognition of MSEU. The strike led to a production loss of 12,600 units. Revenue losses mounted to Rs 720 crore.
The core issue of the strike had been the management’s refusal to recognise a second union. The workers at Manesar claimed the existing union i.e. MUKU, did not address adequately the issues faced by employees at the facility as it was dominated by workers of the Gurgaon plant. They, therefore, wanted independent representation.
The company had initially sacked 11 workers for instigating the strike, but later reinstated them over a truce formula. The peace agreement, however, skipped the issue of a new union at Manesar and also the entry of outsider representatives into the workers’ body.