As it geared up to roll out its all-new hatchback Tiago from its Sanand facility near here, the Tata Motors faced a flash strike of over 400 workers demanding reinstatement of their suspended colleagues, an official said on Tuesday.
Ahmedabad Deputy Labour Commissioner M.S. Patel told reporters outside the Tata Motors plant that in all 422 employees out of the total 2,200 working at the plant went on strike on Monday night.
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"They want the management to reinstate their colleagues," he said.
Patel said the trouble broke out about two months ago when two workers were suspended "on disciplinary grounds".
"While one had allegedly abused his supervisor, the other was suspended for having walked into another department. The workers went on flash strike but we had immediately intervened and resolved the issue," he said.
However, later when the management failed to keep its promise of reinstating the two suspended workers, their remaining colleagues began demanding immediate reversal of suspension order.
"The management says that the workers scratched and damaged over 50 vehicles in the plant and so they had to suspend 26 more people on Monday night. This saw the remaining workers going on a flash strike," he said.
He said the key problem for his department is that Tata Motors plant, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city, does not have a organised labour union.
"Though all of them are salaried and permanent employees of the plant, there is no single leader. They have a panel of seven people with whom we are now trying to have a dialogue," he said.
Meanwhile, an statement from Tata Motors said around 300 workmen at their Sanand plant went on an "illegal" strike on Monday "demanding re-instatement of the workmen suspended (pending enquiry) for serious misconduct".
"While the management team is continuing to make efforts to talk to the workmen on strike and convince them to restore normalcy, plant operations are simultaneously continuing," it said.
The company said that there have been "continued agitations for further monetary increases as well as protests against disciplinary actions against those instigating the workmen, resulting in serious threat to company personnel as well as losses due to tampering".
It said that viewing these "as attempts to coerce the management, around 20 workmen have been suspended (pending enquiry) on various changes of serious misconduct".
The Sanand plant came into the limelight in November 2008 when on the invitation of then Gujrat chief minister Narendra Modi, the company moved the plant to manufacture the Rs.1 lakh dream car Nano from Singur in West Bengal.
However, the run has not been rosy for the dream car. Beginning its operations in 2010, the Sanand plant of Tata has seen several hiccups in the production of Nano.
Against the installed capacity of 250,000 cars per annum, it is reported to have produced roughly 42,560 Nano cars in the two years between January 2014 and December 2015, after the demand for what was once dubbed the cheapest car in the world fell dramatically.