Bosch Ltd, the publicly-held Indian subsidiary of German automotive parts supplier Bosch, has shut its Bangalore plant following a tool down strike by workers.
''In view of the union's illegal and unjustified strike, the management of the company has decided to shut down plant operations for workmen,'' the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange. The plant employs 2,500 workers. Efforts were on to resolve the matter and restore normalcy at the earliest, it added.
According to the company – earlier known as Motor Industries Co Ltd (MICO) – the MICO Employee's Association (MEA) declared an illegal 'tool down' strike at the Bosch Bangalore plant, beginning with the first shift of production on Wednesday.
The management, to reduce costs for competitive pricing of its products, had decided to outsource certain non-core manufacturing and support processes, a normal industry practice followed by Bosch for many years, it claimed.
''This decision has been taken after monthly meetings with its labour union,'' a company statement added. ''Though the original plan would have resulted in the re-deployment of about 140 workers, it has been now scaled down due to the current slowdown in the economy. So far in the current year, only about 40 workers have been re-deployed.''
Bosch claims the outsourcing initiative has not resulted in any job loss and is a common practice in the industry ''as part of modernisation to maintain a competitive edge and secure the future.'' In fact a settlement to formalise modernisation, automation, ancillarisation and outsourcing was first signed between Bosch management and the union way back in 1992, claims the management.
''The Bosch management assures fair and long-term benefits to redeployed associates and requests them not to get misguided by external influences,'' adds the statement. ''The management is in constant touch with the union and relevant government authorities to restore normalcy at the earliest without any further loss of production and disruption of supplies to customers.''
The union, however, differs with the management. According to an MEA spokesman, the management had been told last week not to go ahead with ancillarisation. The management and the MEA had signed an agreement before the labour commissioner of Karnataka, with the former agreeing not to sub-contract functions, he adds.
But earlier this week, the employees realised that some machines had been taken away from the factory, without their knowledge, leading them to resort to a tool down strike.
This is the second industrial unrest at the Bosch plant in Bangalore this year. In March, workers went on a strike over a wage dispute, resulting in a loss of about Rs.1,000 crore. Bosch supplies components to all the major automotive companies in India and has a turnover of Rs7,000 crore.