Business, Finance & Economics

India's Maruti workers say union leaders sold them out

Workers at Maruti Suzuki allege that union leaders Shiv Kumar and Sonu Gujjar took a payoff of around $200,000 apiece – along with the promise of cars and apartments – to bring an end to this fall's strike, India's Economic Times newspaper reported.

Workers said the other 28 suspended strike ringleaders, whom the paper reported last week had resigned in exchange for quiet payoffs, received severance packages of about $40,000 each.

Institutional investors aren't happy with the way Maruti solved the problem, according to the paper. However, Maruti maintained it did nothing wrong in paying the union leaders to leave the company.

The paper cited Rishi Pal, one of the suspended workers, as saying he resigned and received a check for about $32,000. Pal said he and others were left with little option but to resign, especially after it emerged that Gujjar and Kumar had left the company.

The 30 workers in question had been suspended as part of a deal to end a strike at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar, Haryana, production facility this fall. The strike lasted nearly two months and cause a 60 percent drop in Maruti's profits for the second quarter.

According to the settlement, the company took back thousands of dismissed workers – including contract laborers – but suspended 30 labor leaders pending an enquiry into their actions during the strike.