The Haryana government on Friday banned the ongoing strike at Maruti Suzuki India Limited’s Manesar plant as the district administration issued prohibitory orders and moved additional forces to the factory premises.
No incident of violence was reported but the atmosphere was tense as the government referred the strike to the local labour court under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, while negotiations hit a dead-end.
The Act is the main legislation for investigation and settlement of all industrial disputes in India. It enumerates contingencies when a strike or lock-out can be lawfully resorted to, when they can be declared illegal or unlawful, conditions for laying off etc.
Meanwhile, two companies of Gurgaon police, led by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), were deputed at 11am on Friday.
Though the Gurgaon district magistrate said deployment of additional forces inside the 600-acre premises was just a precautionary measure, sources informed that striking workers could be booted out of the factory with the use of police force. Workers also said the company had disconnected the water supply for them.
Both—workers numbering 2,000 demanding a separate union for the plant and the management of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), which is opposing it—did not budge.
“We have a court order that allows us to evict these workers from the factory citing protection of the equipment,” said RC Bhargava, chairman, MSIL, adding police were there only as a precautionary measure.
“Everything can be discussed with the workers but not with the threat of a strike hanging over our heads like a sword,” he added.
However, workers alleged that conditions inside the 6,000-acre factory where they have been camping since last Saturday were deplorable as the managers were trying to disrupt their agitation.
“We have deputed additional enforcement today to tackle the situation in the event of the striking workers get into unlawful activity,” said PC Meena, Gurgaon’s district magistrate, even as workers said they might get evicted forcibly.
Ravinder Kulharia, a striking worker, said workers feared for their lives. “We do not understand as to why the administration has moved such a large number of police personnel when we have been on peaceful strike from the beginning,” he said.
The week-long strike has already resulted in a loss of production of 6,600 cars and is threatening to spill over to other factories in the region with 50 active trade unions professing support to Maruti workers.
Meanwhile, Maruti management imposed curbs on workers interacting with the media in the premises.