More than 25,000 workers of major automobile companies in Gurgaon and Manesar on Thursday boycotted food at company canteens in support of Maruti Suzuki workers accused of the July 2012 violence at the company’s Manesar plant. A senior executive was killed in the incident.
The industry in Gurgaon has its fingers crossed as it awaits the verdict of the case at the court of additional district and sessions judge R P Goyal on Friday.
On July 18, 2012, in an outbreak of violence at the Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar, Awanish Kumar Dev, general manager (human resource), was killed, and large scale damage was done to the plant. Police booked 148 workers in this case and eight of them are still in jail waiting for the court to decide the case.
In an appeal released on Thursday, the workers alleged that the authorities are taking a pro-corporate stand to punish them for standing up for their colleagues. “More than 25,000 workers today (Friday) gave up food in their canteens to express solidarity with the jailed workers. The workers have been framed but we have full faith in the judiciary and expect a fair decision tomorrow (Friday),” Ram Niwas, one of the members of Manesar Dismissed Employees Provisional Committee, said.
The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union also asked its members to be present at the district court on Friday.
“The workers across the industrial belt are united and in one voice want the government to drop charges against those who have been framed wrongly,” Kuldeep Janghu, general secretary, Maruti Suzuki Kamgar Union, said.
Most of the industry and trade bodies want this case to set a precedent and punish those responsible for violence at the Maruti plant. They also want the government to develop a mechanism to reduce tensions and curb the ‘militant unionism’ that is rising in automobile firms in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt. “The decision is purely legal but the need of the hour is to ensure that industrial relations do not come to such a pass. All stakeholders, including the government, should develop competence to prevent such violence,” PK Jain, president, Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), said.
Entrepreneurs said most of the industrial associations in Gurgaon have seen a rise in trade union activity, and a leadership that is becoming aggressive by the day. Apart from that, there is fear that the left leaning unions are pushing workers for more and more compensation and benefits that will turn the industry unviable.
VP Bajaj, president, Gurgaon Industries Association, alleged that unless the system of negotiating wages every three years does not end, this kind of agitation and violence is likely to recur. “Those responsible for violence must be punished so that in future people think before taking any such action,” Bajaj said.
Suman Chawla, general secretary, Manesar Industries Welfare Association (MIWA) said the government handled the issue properly, and, after the Maruti incident, there have been very few incidents of violence in Manesar industrial area.
HP Yadav, president, NCR Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for a dedicated industrial force to curb workers violence in the region.
The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, which is fighting for the jailed workers and those who were dismissed in the aftermath of the Manesar violence, are despondent as they lack the financial resources to fight the government and other adversaries.
On Thursday, a number of trade unions in different companies across the industrial belt issued a warning that they will be forced to take to agitation if justice is not done.