The country’s largest passenger car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India, has initiated talks with the labour unions at three plants to reach a consensus on a revised wage agreement. This comes as the last wage agreement the company had signed with the labour unions in 2012 comes up for renewal after a three-year period.
In the 2012 wage agreement, permanent workers got an average salary hike of Rs 18,000, spread over three years, which ranged between Rs 14,000 and Rs 22,000, based on seniority and experience. In 2009 , the average salary increase for Maruti’s permanent workers was around Rs 7,000 per month.
The negotiations gain prominence as the previous wage agreement between the company and workers came after a violent labour unrest at the Manesar plant, which resulted in the loss of life of a manager.
Followed by differences between the company and the workers then, violence broke out at the Manesar plant on July 18, 2012, when workers and management were discussing reinstatement of a worker suspended that morning. The violence resulted in the death of an HR manager while several other staffers were injured. The situation went out of control after a staggered strike and labour troubles at the plant. The company had to declare a lock-down at the Manesar plant resulting in halting of production for some time.
This time, the unions at the company’s Gurgaon and Manesar plants and Maruti Powertrain India are jointly negotiating with the management on their demands. The demands from the workers include housing facilities, bus conveyance from 100 km to the plants and improved insurance and pension schemes, Kuldeep Janghu, general secretary of the Maruti Udyog Workers Union said.
“Our company is doing well and is making profits, we think it will not be a burden on the company to agree to our demands,” Janghu said, adding the discussions have considerably progressed and could be finalised in a few more meetings.
A spokesperson for Maruti Suzuki declined comments, in response to questions from FE. The wage agreement is revised every three years.
In 2012, the labour unions with the help of the management had planned an affordable housing scheme for the workers, but the plan could not take off as the government refused to offer land for a project for workers of a single company, Janghu added.
Another labour union office bearer said the management had assured the unions on the salary demands but have not assured on other issues. Maruti Suzuki has nearly 5,500 permanent workers at its three plants and nearly 6,000 causal workers, Janghu said.
“Like last time, we will ask the management to look into the demands of the casual workers too,” Janghu said, adding the casual workers, too, got a salary increase in 2012.