Mayhem: Workers burn HR head to death in India Suzuki plant rampage (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
A burned body had been recovered from the plant's main conference room after clashes between workers and executives erupted late on Wednesday. The body was identified as a General Manager in the Human Resource department of the company.
Ninety nine workers have been already arrested following the violence, which charges ranging from murder, attempted murder, infliction of grievous bodily harm and rioting. Police say more arrests are likely to come over the next 48 hours – most of those accused are union leaders and workers.
The rampage in which up to 95 people were injured, including nine police officers, was reportedly sparked by a conflict between a shop floor employee and a supervisor. But eyewitnesses say there had been tension at the plant since 6 pm Wednesday over ongoing talks on wage revision.
Police officials walk past a damaged part of the Maruti Suzuki's plant (Reuters/Stringer India)
The altercation reportedly instigated a fight between the workers and the executives which ended up with property being set afire, offices ransacked, and facilities damaged. The production at the plant has been suspended following the incident, though the plant’s authorities insist that the production lines have not been damaged.
Meanwhile, local media reports have emerged suggesting that the attack was pre-planned and not the result of spontaneous labor unrest.
"It was a pre-planned attack; we weren't able to understand it at that time. After a meeting ended, they started beating us, vandalizing the office, machines and even some cars," local news channel quoted an injured Maruti Suzuki employee as saying.
The Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar, located some 50 kilometers from New Delhi, employs 2,000 people and produces up to 1,200 of Maruti's top-selling Swift and A-Star hatchbacks and SX4 sedans daily.
Shares in Maruti Suzuki dropped more than nine per cent on Thursday at the Bombay Stock Exchange as investors worried about the impact on production.
This is not the first case of unrest at the Manesar plant. Last year, Maruti Suzuki witnessed three separate instances of labor unrest at the plant, with wages named as the primary cause. There was a 13-day strike in June 2011 that brought production to a standstill.
It was followed by another standoff between the management and the workers on August 29 that lasted 33 days. In October 2011, the company again saw its workers going on a 14-day strike.
An extended shutdown this year would be a major blow for the plant.
Indian policemen stand guard at the Maruti Suzuki Production Facility in Manesar on July 19, 2012 (AFP Photo/Manan Vatsyayana)