Maruti declares lockout at Manesar plant

Written by: Pti
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Maruti protest
New Delhi, Jul 21: Maruti Suzuki today declared a lockout at the violence-hit Manesar plant, stating it cannot risk life and safety of its employees.

"There is now a lockout. To me, what is more important is safety of my colleagues than producing some cars to make some money," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chairman RC Bhargava said at a press conference here.

MSI General Manager(HR) Awanish Kumar Dev was burnt to death and about 90 officials and supervisors were injured when violence broke out at Manesar plant in Haryana on July 18.

He said production will not resume till investigation into the incident is completed and corrective steps are taken to ensure that there is no recurrence of violence which came as "shocker" to the company.

Whether there was any plan to shift the production facility to an alternate site, he said, "Talks of Maruti unit moving out of Manesar is an absolute fiction.... We are not moving the plant out of Manesar. Maruti is flag-bearer of industrialisation in Haryana.".

As Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Japan from tomorrow, there was speculation that MSI might shift the Manesar facility to Gujarat where it has already announced expansion plans.

With about 3,000 workforce, the Manesar plant produces some of the best selling models. The vehicles produced there include SX4, Swift, Dzire and A-Star. Bhargava said the MSI management has requested the Haryana Government to expedite the inquiry into the incident.

Besides, the company will have its own probe. Asked whether some workers involved in the incident can be taken back, he said,"if guys are no risks they can be taken back; if they are cause of trouble, they cannot come back".

Asked how long the lockout will continue he said, "Maruti is not closed... we will be very inefficient if we take six months. I don't think we are that bad...we will start at Manesar ". 

Bhargava said the safety and health of company's employees are paramount. "We put much higher value on safety, health and environment than any other aspect of running the factory. Therefore, what has happened is absolutely a shocker for us, so we cannot risk any further damage being done to these people...," he said.

He said it is absolutely necessary for the company and the Haryana government to jointly and separately do a complete investigation of the incident. "... identify the factors which caused these events, what were the causes, what was behind all this, why did it happen? We need to know...," he added.

Meanwhile, Haryana Industry Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said violence at Manesar plant "appears" to be a "concerted" plan to disrupt industrial peace in the state. "... we have got some indications. It appears it (Maruti Suzuki incident) was a designed and concerted plan to disrupt industrial peace," Surjewala told PTI.

Asked whether there was any political hand behind the brutal incident, he said that "let's not prejudge things ... it is too early to say". State Labour and Employment Minister Shiv Charan Lal Sharma also said, "Yes, workers are influenced from outside."

The production loss at Manesar plant has so far mounted to about Rs 210 crore. The plant rolls out about 1,600 units per day. In terms of value, the per day loss is about Rs 70 crore.

Expressing dismay over the violence, industry body Ficci said that the incident has sent shock waves in the corporate boardrooms. "The violence is a matter of deep concern for a country that seeks to project itself as offering an environment that is business friendly," Ficci President RV Kanoria said.

Kanoria said the message which needs to ring loud and clear is that "the lives and property of its citizens is safe and any breach in the law and order and industrial relations will be dealt with firmly."


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