Even as it was rocked by the third instance of zero production at the Manesar factory, marketleader Maruti Suzuki is taking steps that include hiring more contract workers and shifting some employees from Gurgaon, to ensure production could be resumed even if the Manesar workers decide to stay off for a long haul.
"The Manesar factory is highly mechanised and automated so it does not require that many people anyway," said a senior Maruti official. "We are
prepared to resume production within a day or two even if the factory workers refuse to sign the bond of good conduct and hence stay away from work," he said.
In June, the workers at the plant went on an undeclared stirke that went on for 13 days and led to a production loss of 12,600 cars and a revenue loss of R720 crore. It also resulted in a decline of sales by 26% in July, its sharpest ever fall in a month.
The workers and management have been at loggerheads over the formation of a new union exclusively for the factory. Currently, the official Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU) is responsible for both factories and is constituted by members from both the plants. Last month, Manesar workers chose to stay away from the union elections even as the application for formation of a rebel Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU) was rejected by the Haryana government.
"The transformation would be slow but I am hopeful that many of the current workers at Manesar would eventually come back to us," the official said. "Already around 18 of them signed the bond and entered the factory in the first shift. There are many who want to do the same but cannot due to peer pressure."
Members of the rebel union however said they would re-apply and would not be cowed down by the company's intimidatory tactics.
"Last time, our application was rejected as we struck work a day after filing the application and also because we were members of MUKU," said Shiv Kumar, secretary, MSEU. "This time, we will not strike work and have also resigned from MUKU. Our application would be fool proof."