Two more years before contract workers are on payroll: Maruti

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 23 2014, 07:55am hrs
Two years after labour violence hit Maruti Suzukis (MSIL) Manesar plant, a top company official said on Friday that MSIL will take at least two more years to do away with contract workforce at its six production lines, converting them to either permanent or temporary staff directly on its payroll. Temporary staff usually become permanent in 6-9 months.

The decision to do away with contract workforce for all production roles, limiting them to support functions like maintenance and material handling, was one of the key decisions after Maruti's internal investigation into the labour clash at the Manesar plant in July 2012. The event claimed the life of an HR official and injured about 100.

The process has been completed at Manesar and begun at Gurgaon. Non-value-add jobs are only being given out on contract. The road map is to complete the process in two years, SY Siddiqui, previously the COO for HR, who, in March, had been re-designated as chief mentor, said.

Maruti currently has 12,500 permanent workers at its Manesar and Gurgaon plants, and a further 6,500 temporary and contractual workers and 1,100 apprentices.

The management's initial target was to complete the job at the Manesar plant's three production lines, which had a far younger workforce and, thus, seen as more prone to skirmishes.

The process of conversion of contract workers to temporary is also long-drawn. These industrial training institutes (ITIs) trained workers to first undergo a seven-day HR induction process, followed by a three-day stint at the new Maruti Suzuki Training Academy at the Gurgaon plant. Then, there is a further four weeks of shopfloor training.

The training is now very intensive, yet it takes care of all welfare issues. We are hiring from 30 ITIs nationwide, and will take it up to 50 soon. At the training academy there is a completely simulated production line that makes complete cars, though they are not sold in the market. We feel we need to set an example for the industry by virtue of being the biggest player, Siddiqui said.

After the incident at Manesar, Maruti has been spending up to Rs 10 crore a year on welfare, education and training activities of workforce. Workers are being given opportunities for further training at a cost shared by the company that will help them move up the value chain. Maruti has started a three-year technical programme with 60 workers per batch, from which the first batch is expected to pass out soon.

An umbrella mentoring programme has also been put in place to more quickly attend to simmering issues from the lowest levels workers have been formed in groups of five or seven reporting to a senior supervisor.