We are deeply disturbed by the mob violence and arson at our Manesar Plant on Wednesday evening. Several executives, managers and supervisors were brutally attacked and injured, and nearly 100 of them had to be hospitalised.
We have also lost Awanish Kumar Dev, General Manager (HR) at Manesar Plant, who was burnt to death by the mob. Awanish was an outstanding professional and team member, compassionate, soft spoken and deeply committed to cordial industrial relations. In the past year, he had been instrumental in the Company taking far-reaching steps to enhance the well being and working conditions of workers at the Manesar Plant.
We are still assessing the total damage to property and facilities from the acts of arson. What is clear is that the office facilities have been burnt beyond repair, as have the main gate, security office and the fire safety section.
Both our plants in the Manesar campus were, of course, closed on Thursday. We will shortly announce our decision on the next steps with regard to resuming operations in these facilities. We request our customers and partners to bear with us in this extraordinary situation.
The top management team visited the injured colleagues in the hospitals in Gurgaon where they are admitted. Their experiences are shocking. A few of our colleagues remain serious. While the rest are recovering from the physical injuries, it will take them a while to come out of the trauma. The injured include two Japanese expatriates, including the plant manager of the Manesar Plant.
Sequence of the violence
The workers’ union was demanding reinstatement of a worker who had been suspended for beating up a supervisor. While negotiations were on with the senior management, the first act of violence by the mob was to forcibly shut the main gate and prevent managers from leaving the premises after working hours.
Thereafter, armed with iron rods and door beams of cars, the mob spread out in groups in the factory area and targeted supervisors, managers and executives. In simultaneous attacks in different parts of the factory, the mob beat the managers on their head, legs and back, rendering many of their victims bleeding and unconscious. They also ransacked offices, broke glass panes and wantonly damaged property. Finally, they set the offices on fire.
After being terrorized, abused and attacked in this manner by the mob, recovery for the injured will not be easy. We will ensure they continue to receive quality medical attention, and are extending whatever support is possible to the families as well.
By any account, this is not an “industrial relations” problem in the nature of management-worker differences over issues of wages or working conditions. Rather, it is an orchestrated act of mob violence at a time when operations had been normal over the past many months.
Such acts of violence – pre planned, unprovoked and gruesome – have implications beyond one company or region. They are negative trigger for existing companies and regions across the country, as also for prospective investors and job seekers.
We are extending full cooperation to the police and government authorities in identifying the guilty and taking suitable action.
The actions by the workers is so violent and barbaric that they remind one of Naxalite methods.Earlier, there were reports of Naxalites infiltrating the unions in Tamil Nadu, looks like they have infiltrated ones in Manesar as well. This is a wake up call to the industry.
From Haryana’s perspective, this couldn’t come at a worse time.Already, entrepreneurs are shying away from Haryana and Punjab due to power shortages and the high cost of land.Violent unions will drive them away together just like they did in WB.
If Maruti shifts to Gujarat, then it would be a real coup for Narendra Modi.Then we also ought to do what Gujaratis have been doing for long : “Buy land in Gujarat and pray for the long life of Narendra Modi !!”