Need flexibility in temporary worker laws

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 30 2014, 08:05am hrs
Calling for practical reforms in labour laws, Maruti Suzuki India chairman RC Bhargava says policy must allow employment of temporary workers in such a manner that the last to be hired becomes the first to be laid off during downturn but they must be paid subsistence wage.

The company, which is looking at 25-30% of its total workforce to be temporary workers to provide flexibility during downturn, is already applying the last-come-first-go principle at its factories.

He further said: When demand picks up, we shall take back the last guy who was laid off, the last is the first to come back and when vacancies arrive because we expand or people retire whatever happens, only from these temporary workers we keep getting them permanent.

On the overall policy, Bhargava said: The labour law reforms I would like is a labour policy for recruitment on these lines of having temporary workers and all these on the lines of last-come-first-go kind of things; that all permanent workers come from these temporary workers and a provision of subsistence.

Stressing on the need for providing assistance to laid-off temporary workers, he said: When these people are laid off because of a downturn, there should be some mechanism by which they are given part of their wages at subsistence rate.

On the significance of having temporary workers, he said a certain percentage of the total workforce need to be non-permanent to cater for the fluctuations and demands in the auto industry.

Its not steady production year round and year-to-year... So if you have all permanent (workers), then during the period of production fall because of market conditions, you would have a big problem because there would be people sitting idle doing nothing, Bhargava said. So our idea is that you have temporary workers which may be 25-30% of the total workforce. They would provide the flexibility.

Currently, MSI has a total of around 19,000 workers, out of which 12,500 are regular and 6,500 are temporary. It also has around 1,100 apprentices. It stopped hiring casual workers through contractors in the wake of Manesar plant violence in 2012 and has directly recruited workers on temporary basis.