Fresh trouble broke out at Maruti Suzuki’s plant at Manesar here on Wednesday after workers set portions of the plant on fire and resorted to vandalism over suspension of a fellow worker. An unidentified charred body was found on the premises by fire-fighters after the blaze was put out late in the evening. The incident left 40 persons injured.
The trouble has erupted almost nine months after the car market leader arrived at a compromise with striking workers at the same facility. The previous three-phased strike had resulted in Maruti losing over one lakh units of production over 33 days beginning June 2011. Tension had been building up between the management and the workers over the past couple of days following the suspension of Jiya Lal, who had allegedly misbehaved with his supervisor.
“The workers’ unions were demanding his reinstatement and several rounds of meeting were held to discuss the matter. Another round of meeting was going on at the plant premises involving the management, the workers’ union representatives and the State Labour Department officials. When the management proposed to defer the matter till Thursday, the workers got agitated and resorted to arson and vandalism,” said Labour Department sources.
According to sources, a large number of workers barged into the plant premises, vandalised the place, pushed management officials around and set the plant afire. Soon the police were called in and the situation was brought under control.
Assistant Regional Fire Officer M. S. Bhardwaj said: “We received a call around 7.30 p.m. saying a fire had broken out at the Maruti plant in Manesar. Over a dozen fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The fire had broken out at four-five separate places inside the plant and was soon brought under control. A charred body was found in the plant that could not be immediately identified.”
Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar facility has an annual capacity of about 5.5 lakh units across two assembly lines and manufactures popular models such as Swift and Dzire , apart from A-Star and SX4. The other models are made at its Gurgaon plant, which has an annual output of over 10 lakh units.
In a press statement in the evening, Maruti Suzuki India Limited said at least 40 managers and executives were injured in the attack by workers.