Maruti Suzuki issued following statement on Manesar violence on Thursday:
We are deeply disturbed by the mob violence and arson at our Manesar Plant on Wednesday evening. Several executives, managers and supervisors were brutally attacked and injured, and nearly 100 of them had to be hospitalised.
We have also lost Awanish Kumar Dev, General Manager (HR) at Manesar Plant, who was burnt to death by the mob. Awanish was an outstanding professional and team member, compassionate, soft spoken and deeply committed to cordial industrial relations. In the past year, he had been instrumental in the Company taking far-reaching steps to enhance the well being and working conditions of workers at the Manesar Plant.
We are still assessing the total damage to property and facilities from the acts of arson. What is clear is that the office facilities have been burnt beyond repair, as have the main gate, security office and the fire safety section.
Both our plants in the Manesar campus were, of course, closed on Thursday. We will shortly announce our decision on the next steps with regard to resuming operations in these facilities. We request our customers and partners to bear with us in this extraordinary situation.
The top management team visited the injured colleagues in the hospitals in Gurgaon where they are admitted. Their experiences are shocking. A few of our colleagues remain serious. While the rest are recovering from the physical injuries, it will take them a while to come out of the trauma. The injured include two Japanese expatriates, including the plant manager of the Manesar Plant.
Sequence of the violence
The workers` union was demanding reinstatement of a worker who had been suspended for beating up a supervisor. While negotiations were on with the senior management, the first act of violence by the mob was to forcibly shut the main gate and prevent managers from leaving the premises after working hours.
Thereafter, armed with iron rods and door beams of cars, the mob spread out in groups in the factory area and targeted supervisors, managers and executives. In simultaneous attacks in different parts of the factory, the mob beat the managers on their head, legs and back, rendering many of their victims bleeding and unconscious. They also ransacked offices, broke glass panes and wantonly damaged property. Finally, they set the offices on fire.
After being terrorized, abused and attacked in this manner by the mob, recovery for the injured will not be easy. We will ensure they continue to receive quality medical attention, and are extending whatever support is possible to the families as well.
By any account, this is not an “industrial relations“ problem in the nature of management-worker differences over issues of wages or working conditions. Rather, it is an orchestrated act of mob violence at a time when operations had been normal over the past many months.
Such acts of violence – pre planned, unprovoked and gruesome – have implications beyond one company or region. They are negative trigger for existing companies and regions across the country, as also for prospective investors and job seekers.
We are extending full co-operation to the police and government authorities in identifying the guilty and taking suitable action.
Following is the full text of the statement issued by the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU):
The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) is anguished at the recent developments in Maruti Suzuki plant, IMT Manesar where the management has resorted to anti-worker and anti-Union activities in a pre-planned manner leading to the closure of the factory yesterday.
We have had a long tough struggle with the strong unity of our permanent and contract workers to establish and register our Union last year, and had recently as of April 2012 submitted our Charter of Demands to the management of Maruti Suzuki, and the process of negotiation for wages and other demands was underway. However the management has done its utmost to derail the process and break the back of the spirit of unity of the workers and the legitimacy of the Union.
As part of this vindictive attitude and in a pre-planned manner, yesterday, the afternoon of 18 th July, a supervisor in the shop floor abused and made casteist comments against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. Instead of taking action against the said supervisor, the management immediately suspended the worker concerned without any investigation as was demanded by the workers. When the workers along with Union representatives went to meet the HR to demand against the supervisor and revoke the unjust suspension of the worker, the HR officials flatly refused to hear our arguments, and it was in no mood to resolve the issue amicably.
When the negotiation was going on with the leaders of the Union inside the office, the management called in the entry of hundreds of bouncers on its payroll to attack the workers. This is completely an illegal vindictive action in the spirit of conspiracy to corner us into submission even as our demands and methods are legitimate. The gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms. They, joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers who have had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. The bouncers, who are anti-social elements on hire, also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory. The gates were later opened to oust the workers and enforce a lockout by the company.
We have the workers and the company’s welfare in mind and have worked towards it after the resolution of the dispute last year, and to blame the current violence on us is unjust. We are still keen to dialogue with the company and want to sit with the company management and the government labour department to amicably resolve the matter and restore industrial peace in the factory.
President, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU)