Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava on Tuesday said that reforms initiated in labour laws should include provisions permitting companies to recruit workers on a temporary basis to ensure flexibility of operations.
These workers, who companies can let go off in times of a slowdown in sales and consequently production, could be provided for and protected with a subsistence allowance. They could be hired back when production scales up allowing companies to work sustainably even in event of a downturn.
Addressing journalists at The Indian Express’ Idea Exchange initiative Bhargava said, “There should be in the law a provision for hiring temporary workers…When temporary workers are laid off in a downturn, they should get some subsistence pay.”
The measure, he said, would lead to redressal of industrial unrests the manufacturing sector has witnessed on account of dissent among contract workers over the last few years. “The biggest irritant today is the contract labour. Large number of industrial strikes are related to contract workers and their problems. That needs to change,” he said.
At present, contract workers account for nearly a third of the workforce in the industry. Bhargava said, “My idea of a temporary employee is that you recruit them in the same manner as a regular employee…If there is a downturn in the industry and there has to be a reduction in the workforce, the junior most guys are laid off. When demand picks up, outsiders are not hired, those same guys are brought back.”
Bhargava insisted that many a times problems arise as the management is not able to effectively communicate to the workers. To achieve global competitiveness, the management and the workers should work ‘not in adversarial but in co-operative roles’.
Speaking about the violent unrest at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar unit in July 2012 which had resulted in the death of an HR manager, Bhargava said, “There is a need to communicate with and train workers before inducting them into industrial operations, which are very different from agrarian functions…the worker has to understand that a company has to grow and remain competitive and have certain minimum margins if it is to generate minimum resources, not only to invest and grow, also to pay them more.”
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