The strike at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant in Haryana enters its tenth day today, with talks deadlocked over how many of the 11 sacked strike leaders the management is prepared to reinstate.
On Sunday, the stalemate seemed to be melting when the management agreed to recognise the new union formed by workers. But while the workers want all 11 sacked colleagues reinstated, Maruti is willing to take back only five.
"But the management has agreed to the formation of a new union as and when it is registered with the labour department," said Shiv Kumar, who is nominated for the post of general secretary of the proposed union.
Yet far from cooling down, the strike seems set to escalate, as close to 65 unions from various companies and workers from 50-60 industrial units that have no union have decided to join in.
The workers and the unions are from units operating in Gurgaon and Daruhera region of state, which is predominantly an auto hub. The 'auto-belt' is perennially strike prone – some observers say it is because the bulk of workers are employed on contract, paid meagre wages, and are prone to be laid off in a downturn.
Other workers in the Gurgaon-Manesar Industrial belt are planning to hold a two-hour tool-down strike on Tuesday as a mark of solidarity.
About more unions joining the protesting workers, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC ) general secretary Anil Kumar said, "The unions have also got support from Greater Noida-based Honda Seil Cars India Ltd, indicating the magnitude of the issue. We would begin on Monday by holding gate meetings where every worker would be told about the plans."
The strike has hit production at the plant that manufacturers 1,200 cars a day, costing the company a loss of close to Rs500 crore over the last 10 days.