Even as Maruti Suzuki recovers from the damage caused by the spate of strikes at its Manesar plant, new signs of unrest are being reported. Reports say workers and management representatives were involved in a scuffle on Wednesday afternoon which later became a physical fight in which one person was killed and at least 40 were injured .
The fight between Maruti Suzuki's workers has lead to a stoppage in production and recent reports indicate the morning shift workers have not moved out of the plant. It has been reported that the first fight started after a supervisor criticized a worker. When the worker objected, he was verbally insulted. Other workers joined the argument and a fight broke out. The supervisor is said to have been physically assaulted.
Workers are said to have ransacked the plant premises and offices too. He workers stopped work in the afternoon and even did not allow the management representatives to talk to them. Instead they went on to attack them. Maruti Suzuki has said that about forty supervisors were injured and had been admitted in hospital. Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant chief Vikram Khazanchi is also said to be injured.
It is disappointing to see the country's top carmaker continuously facing labour issues. The three previous strikes at Maruti Suzuki had happened at a critical time when it had just launched the new Swift. The new Swift was receiving heavy booking but Maruti Suzuki was unable to deliver due to the strike. We hope that the current situation does not blow out of proportion and cause problems to Maruti Suzuki.
The coincidence between the previous strikes and the current problem could not be more similar. Maruti Suzuki has just recently launched the Ertiga MPV. The Ertiga has also received an overwhelming response from buyers and it has a long waiting period very much similar to the Swift last year. Recent reports say the Ertiga's waiting period, particularly to the top end variant is now close to a year.
Last year's strikes at Maruti Suzuki happened at the Manesar plant and history seems to be repeating itself. While workers then had demanded the recognition of a new workers union and better working conditions, it is now the case of a tussle between workers and supervisors. Maruti Suzuki management must act fast and see to it that there are no problem at its Manesar plant. It not only risks its reputation as a carmaker but also as an employer. A strike will send all possible negative signals to the car market which s already facing a slowdown.