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Violence erupts at Maruti unit, one dead, 90 injured

Workers allege casteist remarks by supervisor company blames workers

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi/ Gurgaon 

One person was killed and at least 90 were injured on Wednesday in a clash between workers and the managerial staff at Maruti Suzuki India’s Manesar plant, forcing stoppage of work.

“One person died of burn injuries in the incident,” Gurgaon Police Commissioner said. In a statement, the company said the violence broke out in the evening when a worker beat up a supervisor on the shop floor. However, the employee union said casteist remarks by the supervisor against an employee triggered the violence. “Work at the plant had to be stopped following the violence,” the company said.

The incident comes within a year of the workers’ settlement with the management. The Manesar unit rolls out the company’s best-selling Swift and DZire cars.

  • June 4, 2011 Manesar workers go on strike to protest against refusal to recognise an independent union
  • June 16, 2011 Workers call off strike,  accept offer to form an independent body at Manesar under an umbrella union for the entire company
  • August 29, 2011 Workers told they must sign a good conduct bond
  • October 1, 2011 Workers agree to sign the bond unconditionally
  • October 7, 2011 Over 8,000 workers across Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar unit, Suzuki Powertrain and Suzuki Motorcycle India go on strike
  • October 21, 2011 The workers and the company sign a settlement agreement

The company said to resolve the issue amicably, members of the senior management met the union. During the talks, the workers attacked the members of the senior management, executives and managers, it alleged. This version was contested by the union. Sarabjeet Singh, general secretary of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU), said, “The supervisor made casteist remarks against a permanent worker. When we opposed it, they misbehaved with us and suspended the worker”.

“There is tension at the plant. About 1,500 workers of the morning shift have not left the complex. If the management does not take back the worker, we may stop work,” he said.

A senior company executive said, “There was an altercation between a worker and his supervisor on the shop floor today. The worker was suspended. The union members prevented the management from taking disciplinary action against the worker. When management executives tried to negotiate, the workers turned violent and many managerial staff were injured.”

The workers allegedly set factory property on fire. According to the company, around half a dozen members of the managerial staff were seriously injured. The Haryana police had to cane charge the workers to evict them from the factory and around 3,000 workers were moved out of the plant. Operations were normal at the company’s Gurgaon unit.

First Published: Thu, July 19 2012. 00:32 IST