The murder of Lalit Kishore Choudhary, CEO of the India unit of an Italian MNC, was the brutal and unprecedented outcome of a simmering, yearlong tussle between the company management and workers.
The lynching of Choudhary has not only put in question the future of the company in India, but has also made other companies operating from Greater Noida fear for their safety.
Established in 1998, Graziano Transmissioni India Pvt Ltd, is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Italy-based US$ 6 billion Oerlikon Graziano group.
The Greater Noida plant was built with Rs 150 crore and the group had planned to invest Rs 30 crore more in the plant this year and Rs 100 crore over the next three years. This unit manufactures automobile parts and has an annual turnover of Rs 360 crore.
Noida and Greater Noida have 3,000 industries that have about 2.5 lakh employees. Many other companies face labour issues and about 2,500 cases are pending at labour court tribunals.
“We’re facing similar problems. The Graziano incident boosted our workers who have started creating disturbance since last evening. I have requested police for security,” said D.K.Yadav, HR head of Stallion company.
Although senior company officials said, on condition of anonymity, the violence has put a question mark over planned investment, Oerlikon Graziano international chief Marcello Lamberto said on Wednesday it was still too early to talk of future plans.
“We will discuss the issue internally over the next few days. My purpose of visit was to meet L.K. Choudhary’s family and to help those who have been injured,” Lamberto said.
Problems first started in the factory in November last year when workers put in their demands, mainly an increase in salary. “The workers first went on a strike in December. We had an agreement by January and salaries were hiked substantially,” said L.K. Gupta, Graziano’s HR head.
But trouble continued and the factory witnessed violence in June . “After this, 33 workers were chargesheeted and were locked out of the premises,” Gupta said.
The company has locked out almost 250 workers since then and the workers’ demand has been to reinstate all of them. An agreement was reached to take back all but 15 workers. This has been the bone of contention that apparently triggered the rampage and killing on Monday.
Company officials say if the police had taken the June incident seriously, Choudhary would still be alive today.