Expressing concern over stand-off between the management of Maruti Suzuki and its workers at the Manesar facility, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) on Tuesday called for reforms in labour laws to allow layoffs of permanent employees during a slowdown or other related situations.

“We would like to have all employees as permanent as we invest a lot on them. We are not allowed to layoff if there is any ups and downs in the market. The efficiency and capability issues of a worker are also there. There should be some flexibility in labour laws as per market requirements and so these should be reformed,” ACMA Vice-President Arvind Kapur told reporters here.

Last month, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had also asked for labour reforms to allow companies to terminate services of permanent employees during a slowdown, but with adequate unemployment benefits. Major vehicle manufacturers have already sought labour law reforms, while trade unions said existing rules must be implemented strictly to avoid confrontations.

About the current labour problem at Maruti Suzuki India's Manesar plant, Mr. Kapur said it was a serious issue as such incidents have the potential to affect other players also operating in the same area.

At times such issues spread to the entire industrial belt, he added.

Mr. Kapur said the Indian component industry employed a total of about 20 lakh people and it was estimated to double in the next five years.

Accepting some of the issues of workers, ACMA President Srivats Ram said inflation was going high in the recent past. Consumer habits had also changed.

There were other things also that had led to an overall change in the aspirations of the workers, he said.

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