In a marked departure from its earlier stance, car maker Maruti Suzuki is gradually warming up to the idea of an affiliation with established unions for the ones that function at its own factories.
In the wake of the violence at its Manesar factories on July 18, where members of the union were prime suspects, the company now believes there needs to be introspection on whether a mature growth oriented union may actually be a good idea. The violence led to a month-long lockout at its factories that would be lifted next Tuesday.
"In the light of what happened on July 18, maybe we can look at whether a growth oriented pro-business external union can help workers of the company," said SY Siddiqui, chief operating officer (administration), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. "This is something we need to introspect. A mature right thinking union can be very constructive and I do not think they would have resorted to violence."
Maruti had in the past always resisted any outside influence on the unions in its factories and it was a major bone of contention during the three labour strikes last year at Manesar.
Around 600 workers at the Manesar factories went berserk on July 18 setting fire to parts of the facility and killing senior human resource executive Awanish Kumar Dev and injuring at least 96 other supervisers and managers.
Even organised unions such as All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) said that had Maruti allowed a democratic union to guide its workers, things would not have come to this.
"We condemn the violence at the factory as that is not the way a democratic trade union functions," said DL Sachdev, national secretary, AITUC. "If we had been involved, we would have guided the workers on how to air their grievances."