The Suzuki Motors Gujarat (SMG) Pvt Ltd is currently employing only 52 per cent “locals” as workforce at their car manufacturing plant at Hansalpur in Gujarat. It has assured the state government that it will abide by the 85 per cent workforce norm.
Vipul Mittra, Additional Chief Secretary of the Labour and Employment Department, Gujarat government told this newspaper about his meeting with Maruti Suzuki’s Chairman, R C Bhargava and Managing Director, Kenichi Ayukawa in Delhi, on Tuesday.
“Maruti Suzuki has assured us that they will increase the percentage of locals at its car manufacturing plant,” he said. SMG has a capacity to produce 5 lakh cars at Hansalpur and employs a total workforce of 7,000. The company is the biggest investor in the Mandal-Becharaji Special Investment Region (SIR) and has already made public its investment plans worth Rs 15,000 crore.
According to the March, 1995 Government Resolution (GR) of the state government’s Labour and Employment Department, “minimum 85% of the recruitments to the posts in the cadre of employees, workers and artisans and minimum 60% to managerial and supervisory posts in all the undertakings of the state government, as well as all the industries being provided with incentives by the state government situated in the state should be made from among the local residents.” As per this resolution, industries seeking subsidy in taxes, electricity, water, land, etc. have been asked to employ “locals” as 85 per cent of the workforce, in exchange to the assistance the state government was providing.
At present, the Hansalpur plant in Ahmedabad district is the only industrial unit with the lowest percentage of local workforce in Gujarat, said the IAS officer. “The percentage of locals employed by Maruti Suzuki is lowest in Gujarat. It is just 52 percent,” Mittra said. However, the company, which initially shifted a number of employees from Gurgaon when they began the plant in 2017, has been slow in incorporating locals among the workforce. The Indian Express had last month reported that the labour department had written to the industries department, asking them to stop the subsidies to SMG for its inability to improve its hiring of the local population.
Mittra said that apart from SMG, there are about 8-10 firms which have been asked to improve on their hiring of the “local” workforce. The Indian Express in February, 2019 reported that there are 570 firms —- both private and public sector —- in 14 districts of the state which have flouted the employment norms between 2013-’17.
Mittra, while addressing an event organised by the Gujarat Labour Welfare Board in Shahibaug, said, “It is the state government’s policy to see to 85 per cent locals being employed in an industrial unit. We are constantly calling those factories which are falling short of this norm, and seek updates from them every three months. We inform even the biggest of corporates and support them.”
He said that the state government has permitted the corporates to adopt Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to teach and train manpower required in their respective factories.
“If it is a new company and they are not able to get the required local workforce, then we are using ITIs to provide skilled manpower. 287 ITIs are a part of my department. The industries themselves have been allowed to adopt these ITIs, train the workforce and hire them through campus recruitment. This is meant to ensure that the local youth is employed in the industrial units, instead of workforce that comes from outside the state,” the official remarked.
SMG CEO Kenichi Ayukawa, during his visit to Ahmedabad a couple of days ago, said that the company will raise its workforce to 10,000 when it commissions the third assembly line during 2020, and increases the annual production at the Hansalpur unit to 7.5 lakh cars per annum.