Maruti-Suzuki workers in India fight for their union
From August 29 the management of Maruti-Suzuki India at Manesar asks workers to sign a “good conduct” pledge before allowing them to enter the plant, in effect locking out workers who refuse to give up their labour rights. Since then the management terminated 23 workers and suspended 34 on charges of misconduct and instigating workers to stop production.
INDIA: The Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) affirms that production is at a complete halt since August 29. The Plant employs around 3,500 workers – 900 regular, 1,500 trainees and 1,100 contract workers and apprentices.
The conflict goes back to June 3, 2011. When workers at the MSIL Manesar plant filed an application for registering Maruti-Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU), the management demanded that workers sign statements that they will not join the new union. Protesting intimidation and demanding trade union rights workers went on sit-in strike from June 4.
On June 17 an agreement was reached between the parties in the presence of government officials. For more details on the 13 day long sit-in strike see here.
According to the agreement, 11 dismissed workers were reinstated pending domestic inquiry and the parties agreed to cooperate. In the meantime, on July 16 elections were held for Maruti Udhyog Kamgar Union (MUKU) which existed at Maruti-Suzuki’s Gurgaon plant. Workers allege that it is a pocket union for which no elections have been held for 10 years. As this union was dominated by workers in Gurgaon, workers in Manesar did not take part in the election, preferring the separate union MSEU.
However, on July 27 the Registrar of Trade Unions rejected their application to register the MSEU, questionning their documents’ genuineness. Subsequently, the management started victimising workers through suspensions and terminations. It peaked on August 29 with the termination of 11 and suspension of 10 workers. On the same day the Maruti-Suzuki management locked gates and declared that only workers who sign a Good Conduct Bond/Undertaking could enter the plant. All workers refused to sign the bond. As of September 8, 23 workers have been terminated and 34 suspended.
The management alleges that workers engaged in go-slow tactics and hampered the production process. Workers are sitting in front of the factory gate in two shifts demanding withdrawal of the termination and suspension orders. A large number of trade unions in Gurgaon including Suzuki’s other plants namely Maruti Suzuki's Gurgaon plant, Suzuki Motorcycle India, Suzuki Powertrain and Suzuki Castings are supporting the struggling workers.
Officers from the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) South Asian Office visited the Maruti site on September 6. The IMF calls upon the Maruti-Suzuki management not to indulge in victimisation and to engage with workers in good faith to solve their genuine grievances on working conditions and trade union rights.
Sep 08, 2011 – G. Manicandan