Even as auto manufacturers celebrate unexpectedly high sales this Diwali, labour unrest in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt may prove the damp squib.
The long-simmering agitation in this hub of auto and auto ancillary manufacturers has taken a turn for the worse over the last couple of days; and if it is not resolved soon, car and two-wheeler manufacturers may be unable to meet the suddenly soaring demand.
Company bosses blame ''outside'' political influences for agitating workers, who they claim are sufficiently well paid. And they could be right, as the agitation (which claimed a life on Sunday) is led by the Communist Party-supported All India Trade Unions Congress. And if the stir has turned violent, it could well be because not all workers support it; and the strikers have turned violent against those who don't support them.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18, Jagdish Khattar, chairman and managing director of parts maker Carnation Auto and former managing director of Maruti Udyog (now Maruti Suzuki India), said, ''External elements are creating havoc in Gurgaon. If things are not brought under control quickly, the outlook for the sector will worsen.''
Khattar feels production would be affected heavily, since most auto makers do not even carry one day's surplus stock. "Gurgaon and Noida produce more than 50 per cent of the cars and two-wheelers in the country. Vehicle production would be drastically affected if ancillary supplies are delayed,'' he said.
Khattar added, ''When you look at this hub – the workers here are one of the most highly paid in the auto industry today. The average cost of a worker is Rs25,000-30,000 per month; but still we are having this problem. One of the reasons is that while Gurgaon has so far has been a very peaceful place, some other elements are coming from outside and are creating this problem, which was here earlier also.