After last month’s violence at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar facility, which led to an indefinite lockout from July 21, the company has now organised an intensive training programme for its plant managers and supervisors to avoid any such confrontations with the workers by detecting any problems early on.

Last Saturday, the first such training session was held with senior human resource executives, including outside consultants.

“The training focuses on the dos and don’ts, and precautions the plant managers need to take. This was more to do with people management and training on vigilance. No arguments should now be taken for granted,” a senior company official said.

Also discussed was a mechanism to detect workers’ discontent at the root, so that an alert can be immediately relayed to the top management to avoid any possible flare-ups.

The plant’s continued closure after the violence of July 18, that claimed a life of a senior official and injured 96 others, is expected to result in a Rs 2,700-crore revenue loss. Loss of production of about 47,000 units is likely, which includes popular models Swift and Dzire.

Security Plan

The training is part of a new security arrangement the company is working on, a concrete plan on which will emerge by end-August. This will help reassure its senior managers of safety and help the company restart operations.

S. Y. Siddiqui, Maruti’s COO for Administration (HR, IT) said: “We are reviewing our security set-up and new measures will soon be in place. The top management held talks on Saturday.”

For comprehensive enterprise risk management, Maruti will have to work on three elements — robust security, effective crisis management and a comprehensive business continuity plan, said James McAlpine, MD at Control Risks. The firm is a global risk consultancy specialising in management of political, integrity and security risks.

“There were security breaches. Such disputes are largely related to the terms of contract, such as the lower benefits that contract workers enjoy.

They have to take the workers’ grievances into account. In a fast-growing economy, the disparity between the haves and havenots is rapidly increasing, leading to resentment. I don’t think this will be the last of such cases,” McAlpine said.

Top Priority

Security is foremost on the minds of Maruti’s top bosses as there is a lingering worry that the traumatic events of last month may lead to some resignations by managers. Along with the hundreds of workers who are expected to be suspended, this will make restart of operations at Manesar an uphill task. Till now, 118 workers have been arrested by the police.

The plant was manufacturing about 1,800 cars a day when it shut shop. The Gurgaon plant, which makes about 8 lakh cars annually, continues normal operations.

“We’re assessing and fixing the damage right now. Some supervisors and workers from Gurgaon have visited the Manesar facility for basic quality checks, but no operations have started,” a company official said.

roudra.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 9, 2012)
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