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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Striking Honda workers vacate Manesar plant’s premises as talks continue with management

Close to 1,500 contractual workers at Honda’s Manesar plant are demanding that the 650 workers let go of by the company be recalled or be paid a compensation of Rs 1 lakh per worker for each year of service.

gurugram Updated: Nov 20, 2019 08:24 IST
Sonali Verma
Sonali Verma
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Contractual workers have been protesting at the Honda plant in Manesar since November 5, 2019.
Contractual workers have been protesting at the Honda plant in Manesar since November 5, 2019.(HT Photo )

The impasse between workers’ union and management at the Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) plant in Manesar could be closer to resolution, said members of the union after a meeting held with the HMSI management, the Haryana labour commissioner Nitin Yadav and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala in Chandigarh on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, close to 1,500 contractual workers who have been staging a sit-in at the company premises since November 5 to protest the retrenchment of their colleagues, vacated the premises and continued their strike outside the premises, after the management agreed to work towards reaching a resolution soon, said union workers.

“The management had earlier said they would agree to the demands raised by the workers if we vacated the company premises,” said union president Suresh Kumar Gaur.

Workers have demanded that the 650 contractual workers let go of by the company be recalled or be paid a compensation of Rs 1 lakh per worker for each year of service.

Gaur added that even though negotiations on Tuesday did not lead to a resolution, the management said some demands would likely be met.

“The deputy CM and the state labour commissioner were present at the meeting. The meeting concluded on a positive note and we expect a possibility of some solution on Wednesday,” he said.

An HMSI spokesperson, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that “positive” discussions regarding the workers’ demands took place in Chandigarh on Tuesday, without stating which of the workers’ demands, if any, are likely to be met.

Dalbir Dhankar, spokesperson for the Jannayak Janta Party, said, “The deputy chief minister was present at the negotiations in Chandigarh on Tuesday, along with the labour commissioner, to speed up negotiations.” He did not reveal details of the meeting.

Nitin Yadav was not available for comment.

Another round of talks is scheduled for Wednesday with the labour department in Gurugram. Meanwhile, as a result of the strike, production has been shut at the HMSI’s Manesar plant since November 11.

A notice for the same, issued by the management on November 10, said, “Due to the prevailing IR (industrial relations) situation, plant operations have been suspended and the plant will remain closed till further intimation.”

Operations have not been started since.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Honda had said the workers, whose term had completed, had been relieved of services due to demand fluctuations and production adjustment.

In August, Honda had laid off about 700 contract workers because of a production cut, according to figures released by the company. Company officials had said that the industry was facing a demand slump and the job losses were a consequence of the downturn.

The contract workers have been protesting outside the plant at IMT-Manesar since November 5.

The HMSI sales fell marginally to 517,808 units in October, down from 521,170 units a year earlier.

Demand for two-wheelers and cars has declined as consumers spend less because of a downturn in economic growth, which eased to an over six-year low of 5% in the quarter ended June.

Gurugram is the country’s largest automotive hub, which houses more than 1,000 automotive manufacturing companies that employ around 15 lakh workers, contractual workers, typically migrants from other parts of India, typically bear the brunt of any company effort at cutting costs, and sometimes layoffs have resulted in labour unrest.