Production came to a halt at Hero MotoCorp’s Gurgaon plant on Tuesday and the local police had to be called, as workers went on strike since noon demanding the re-instatement of four of their colleagues who have been suspended since last September. Two of these workers, Bhim Rao and Kanwalpreet Singh, are former leaders of the Hero MotoCorp Workers’ Union (HMCWU).
Industry sources, however, indicated that Hero MotoCorp may not face a long-term impact as the plant could re-start on Wednesday on the back of assurances given by the management after tri-partite talks were held with the Gurgaon-based assistant labour commissioner and the union leaders. The Gurgaon factory, one of Hero’s four plants in the country, produces about 7,000 units a day of models like the Pleasure and Maestro scooters, and bikes such as Passion range, Extreme, ZMR, Karizma, Ignitor and Hunk.
The strike called by HMCWU, an affiliate of the Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS), is in coordination with a larger strike called by HMS in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt because of labour problems at medical products maker Baxter’s Manesar plant.
“The Gurgaon plant has been closed since 12 PM on Tuesday, and both A and B shifts are not working. However, we could re-start work tomorrow because the labour department officials have assured us of a solution to our problems. We want our four colleagues to join back immediately and the charges dropped,” a HMCWU office bearer told FE. The Gurgaon plant employs about 1,200 permanent workers, and about 4,000 casual workers.
Incidentally, Tuesday saw even more trouble at Hero’s Gurgaon facility. About 400 casual workers at the adjoining Parts Distribution Centre (PDC) protested against a shift to a new facility in Neemrana. Hero is in the process of shifting the Gurgaon PDC to a new global parts centre it has made at its Neemrana facility, for which it had offered existing workers an option to shift (but with lesser pay because of the lower living costs versus Gurgaon), or shift to the Gurgaon plant instead.
The auto industry is only too familiar with labour strikes, and barring major incidents like a violent clash at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar facility in 2012 that claimed the life of an HR official, most protests go unnoticed today. Hero MotoCorp, in fact, saw major protests at its Gurgaon plant across 2013 over a less-than-expected