The root causes underlying Manesar plant riot and a lesson to learn

Tuesday 24 July 2012, 10:17 AM by

Recently, the country's largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) received a jolt when the infuriated mob of workers at its Manesar plant attacked the officials and set the production line on fire. The incident claimed life of one of the Senior Managers, injured nine policemen and left 100 officials being hospitalised. The incident was a blot on the entire history of the car industry being one of the most violent, even though India is not new to such incidents and demonstrations. The mishap has left the plant at Manesar gasping with parts of the assembly line being burnt down and around 1,200 policemen have been called-in to avoid any kind of repercussion.

According to Maruti spokesperson, the conflict began after the Maruti Suzuki Worker's Union stood up for a worker who has been suspended for roughing up a company executive. The official who is being currently treated in a hospital stated that the attack from the worker was unprovoked. According to the executive, who suffered a broken elbow and received injuries in head, ribs and legs, “The workers grabbed whatever they could, split up in small groups and attacked us.” Police has arrested a number of workers of the Manesar plant under the charges of murder and attempted murder.

MSIL commented that the riots were not due to the friction between the white collared and blue collared workers over working conditions and wages. But than the question arrives, what actually triggered the whole conflict. True that there were low cohesion between the workers and management on the issue of the suspended employee; however, that is not enough to drive the incident to this level wherein a manager lost his life.

Then what drove the worker's mob to shun against the law and claim a life. The root cause of the whole incident is the underlying aggression and the anger of the workers. After the strikes in 2011, the then worker's union ceased to exist after its official submitted their papers being faced with severe penalties. Ever since then, there has been unrest among the workers regarding the working conditions and the wages.

Besides these, there has also been a lack of control and discipline at the Manesar plant. One could easily mistake the plant for a railway station with undisciplined workers voicing their grudges loudly and no senior official in sight. A Japanese manufacturing plant, even if it is located on the outskirts of Delhi, is expected to follow an unannounced code of discipline, which was not so in the case of Manesar plant. The incident at the MSIL plant is a perfect example for the others auto makers in the industry as to what can happen in the absence of a proper protocol and employee satisfaction.