Deadly Maruti Factory Riot Sounds Alarms For Industry

This Youtube video has good footage of the damage as a result of the July 18, 2012 riot at the Maruti Suzuki plant in India, but it is a continuous loop of the same images for over 6 minutes. Outsourcing to cheap foreign labor may have to

This Youtube video has good footage of the damage as a result of the July 18, 2012 riot at the Maruti Suzuki plant in India, but it is a continuous loop of the same images for over 6 minutes.

Outsourcing to cheap foreign labor may have to eventually become a thing of the past as now auto workers in India have resorted to deadly violence in their desperate efforts to have India's outdated labor laws overhauled, and their wages increased.

Reuters reports:

Hiding in his office near New Delhi as workers armed with iron bars and car parts rampaged through the factory, Maruti Suzuki(MRTI.NS) supervisor Raj Kumar spent two terrified hours trying to comprehend the warzone his workplace had become.

By the end of the day, one of his colleagues had been burnt to death and dozens wounded, many with broken bones, as a long-running struggle between the shop floor and management exploded at a factory racked by mistrust.

While police investigate and the carmaker counts its mounting losses, the July 18 clash has rattled corporate India and shone a light on outdated and rigid labour laws in a country where cheap labour drives manufacturing and draws foreign investment. High inflation, a shortage of skilled labour and rising aspirations have emboldened workers' demands.

"There was always a strong sense of unease," Kumar, 43, told Reuters as he stood outside the locked factory gates more than a week after the riot in the industrial town of Manesar.

"We are living in fear... The kind of violence these guys showed was unbelievable."

Hyundai and Honda plants located in India have also seen labour unrest in their plants as some labor laws date as far back as 1920.

Since July's rioting, Maruti Suzuki has remained on shut down, with its some 2,500 workers in hiding fearing punishment from the company, criminal charges or both.

Troubles for Maruti began as far back as 2000, when workers hunger-striked for better wages. The best and highest paid manufacturing workers in the area are paid 25,000 rupees a month, the equivalent of just $445.79 in U.S. currency.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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