The Conflict Maruti Suzuki India Ltd Management Essay

A conflict is a kind of argument which can be between two people or between a group of people. When conflicts are not dealt with, it can be very damaging. The longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to stop. Conflicts can start for many reasons sometimes when particular problem or issue arises. It can arise if employees are not being treated fairly. A conflict can continue and prolong because groups form and individuals are drawn into one group or another. In many cases the groups and individuals will stereotype each other and stop seeing each other as individuals. The individuals can stop talking to each other and do not care for ones feelings. There are chances that the conflict can escalate. Everyone has basic needs at work such as rewards,recognition,safety,flexible working hours if these needs are not fulfilled the employees are left dissatisfied and conflicts take place. Conflict is dysfunctional in the workplace. At times conflicts cannot be observed but they exsist this is called latent conflict. Matera,(2010). Workplace conflict occurs when employees disagree or argue due to differing personal styles, goals or expectations. Conflicts at work can impact the productivity and morale of employees and even lead to violence in extreme cases.Personality differences can cause problems between co-workers, particularly if two people with very different personalities and working styles must work together to complete a project. Personality may also play a part in communication styles. Conflicts can also occur when people from different cultural backgrounds work together. They have different thoughts and way of interpreting things therefore there is a clash of ideas. It also takes place if employees in the workplace do not complete certain tasks on time and do not meet the company’s expectations. According to Gennard and Judge,(2005) an employee can express conflicts in various ways ,it can be seen as employee frustration,low morale,increased absenteesim and disciplinary problems and detoriating interpersonal relationships.Difference in values attitudes and weak leadership styles lead to conflicts. All companies whether small, big, multinationals all face the problem of conflict in the workplace. In some cases it can be solved easily over a short period of time or it can be a very tedious and long process. The nature of the conflict also depends on a large extent to the management style of the organisation. This essay will look at a conflict which has taken place in India in a manufacturing plant of Maruti Suzuki the car company. Using this example, reasons for the occurrence of this conflict with be explored along with recommendations and solutions for similar situations going forward.

The conflict:

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd one of India’s largest car maker by volume faced a major industrial strike. It was wracked by labor unrest since last year at its plant at Manaesar in the Northern state of Harayana in India. It started back in june 2011 where labour woes at the facility,located about 50 kilometers from New Delhi, where the workers had gone on an indefinite strike to form an independent union at the same plant. While the company suffered a production loss of about 80,000 cars in the 59 days of strike, the direct revenue losses were pegged at 2,500 crore in the last fiscal year. Workers halted all activity demanding recognition from Marutis Management of their newly formed Maruti Suzuki Employees Union. Maruti Suzuki suffered great production as well as business loss . And history is repeating, as this new sudden difference of opinion between workers and management staff is leading to a work halt and has occurred again in 2012.

Basically, the agitation sprouted because Maruti Suzuki’s administration suspended one of the workers from the quality department after he allegedly created frizz with the managerial staff. He was at once suspended due to his misbehavior with the supervisor on the shop-floor. Thereafter the workers fought against the decision and burnt down the administration wing of the facility that rolls out major automobiles such as Swift and Dzire. Workers delayed the production output and even burnt few car models parked outside the plant. Later when the conflict heated up and the laborers started protesting leading to severe violence at the plant, Maruti Suzuki management called in police to control the situation. Later the clash turned extremely violent leading to dozens of injuries.Where the workers at Manaesar palnt attacked senior officials and started a fire at the administration wing of the plant where the senior Human Resource executive died.

The newly registered Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union (MSWU) at the Manesar plant immediately showed the urge to cancel the suspension order of the worker and stopped the executives from the management team to leave the factory premises. The reason for the strike is that around two thousand five hundred employed independent workers are demanding independent recognition for their newly set up union called Maruti Suzuki Employees union. Apart from this the workers want that few of the contract labourers from their two units must be retained in the company. Labor unrest had commenced due to the disagreement between workers and management over disciplinary patterns and over the signing of mandatory good conduct bond. The workers are still dissatisfied and the situation is stil tensed in the Manaesar plant.The dissatisfied workers are now planning a hunger strike and other protests to force the company to reinstate the employees who were sacked in the violence earlier this year. Maruti has to formulate different techniques to solve this major conflict and maintain its goodwill in the market as well as the trust and loyalty of their workers.

Management styles:

From the above essay we can understand the different styles of management Maruti Suzuki India incorporates in their organisation .They follow the traditionalist ,sophisticated moderns (constitutionalists), paternalism.Traditionalist style of management is where the employees are treated very poorly they dont really get a chance to voice their opinions and the management does not take into consideration their needs and welfare. There is less employee involvement they do not have a say in the functioning of the organisation. There are very few chances for additional bonuses for the employees.In the Manaesar plant the workers were not given respect they were treated as a piece of equipment it was a very formal environment.Sophisticated moderns (constitutionalists) style is where the organisation recognises but are very reluctant to trade unions hence leading to industrial conflicts such as strikes and lockouts. In this style of management a lot of bargaining takes place in the organisation. Similarly in the Manaesar plant the Maruti suzuki workers union wasn’t accepted by the management very easily. It involved a lot of bargaining in the organisation and it created a difficult situation for nearly a year for everyone involved in the organisation.The debate to accept the union or not to led to many fall outs in the work place such as labour unrest and lock outs. The next style which the company follows is Paternalism (Purcell 1987) Companies with a paternalist approach do not appear to place emphasis on employee development and career progression and other attributes of individualism, nor are they dismissive of a sense of social responsibility toward their staff. Notions of caring, humanity and welfare are emphasized as a means of legitimizing managerial authority and the subordinate position of lower level employees who are given few if any expectations of the possibility of changing their work roles and ‘natural’ place in the hierarchy. The corollary of paternalism is the deferential worker. Paternalist styles thus fall somewhere between high individualism, with its emphasis on employee development, and low individualism concerned with labour control treating employees as a commodity to be exploited in the pursuit of profit. We can clearly see that Maruti also followed a paternalist style of management. Maruti has to definitely make a few changes in its style of management in order to prevent conflicts in the workplaces.

Methods by which conflict can be avoided:

Conflicts can be resolved by using different theories and techniques. According to Hawkins,( 2011).Sometimes, people just don’t get along. If you’re managing employees in a small business, you’re bound to find yourself dealing with a personality clash at some point or another, threat of a physical altercation. No matter what the situation is, there are a number of ways to handle it gracefully. Here are some steps to take when you have to manage workplace conflict.

Find out what the real problem is. Meet with the people involved in the problem in a private room, and set aside an hour or two to focus on the situation. Then listen to both sides of the argument, asking both sides to state their problems . Be careful not to state any bias towards either party while determining the facts of the situation.Come up with clear steps to solve the problem. Invite each employee involved in the conflict to come up with a series of proactive steps that both they and their fellow co-workers can take to end the problem. If the situation is more involved or emotional, though, you may consider bringing in a professional mediator to help resolve the conflict. Evaluate the solution’s success. Schedule a follow-up meeting between the involved parties after a period of several weeks to determine how well the issue has been resolved. Additionally, keep a close eye on the situation yourself, and get ready to have a private discussion with one of the employees if he isn’t living up to his end of the deal. Depending on how serious the offense is, you may need to give an ultimatum that the offending employee will lose his job if he doesn’t take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. If you believe one of your employees is harassing another, consult with an employment lawyer immediately to find out the best steps to take. Focus on building a united team. Once you’ve resolved your workplace conflict, help ensure that new problems don’t arise by working to bring your staff closer together. Ok lt.Gov.Fallin,(anon). Believes that the measure to which a conflict can be resolved depends on the ethical standards of the employees in an organisation. Maruti should have maintained good ethical standards and instilled good morales and values from the beginning in their employees and corporate social responsibility should have been present in order to avoid the conflict. From the above example we understand that there was a communication gap between the workers and the management. The workers were not satisfied with the working conditions and the rules and regulations set by the organisation.The above conflict can be resolved by using the mediation method. As suggested by Miller,M and Wax,D(1999). Mediation is a primary function to create constructive communication between the parties in a controlled forum where they can explore their needs and build a mutually satisfactory agreement. The mediator is not an arbitrator or judge who imposes a decision but helps the disputing parties to construct a satisfactory solution and create an agreement. A mediator is not connected to either parties but they make sure they listen to eachother. Mediation tries to find ways of meeting needs rather than demands.It happens at all levels of negogiation. Mediation and negotiation are examples of interest based process of solving conflicts.The agitated workers of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union and the management should come together and discuss the problems .As we can see there has been labor unrests and srikes since a year in the Manaesar plant. As the labourers were not too happy to sign the bond of good conduct and the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union wanted separate recognition. The government of Haryana along with the All India Trade Union Congress can act as the mediators and try to solve this conflict. They can make both the parties sign a psychological contract. As described by Schien (1988). This contract includes the need to be treated fairly and treated equally to others. The employees should also be assured a certain kind of security in the organisation. In the case of the Manaesar plant the management has to change their style of management from sophisticated moderns(constitutionalists) to sophisticated moderns (consultors). Where trade unions are willingly recognised and supported by the organisation as well.They must improve the relationship level between the workers and organisation. The bond between the workers and management should be as such that they can share any grievances and problems to the managers without any hesitation and should not express it by getting violent and going on strikes as it affects the functioning of the organisation . The organisation goes through a major financial loss and hence loses it reputation in the market. The other method to solve this conflict is negotiation. . According to Salamon(2000) a negotiation is an explict and deliberate event .The purpose of this process is to reconcile the differences between the parties involved .It is carried out on a face to face basis. The negotiation has to end in an agreement.The major reasons for this conflict were Recogition of the Maruti Suzuki Union , laborers were not happy signing the code of god conduct and also they were fighting back for those laborers who had been suspended by the officials. Therefore the workers and the management should get into a negotiation and try to reach a final agreement. After understanding the conflict we can say that the workers went on labor unrests because their needs were not satisfied and the management suspended those workers who were part of these activities. This agitated the situation and led to further strikes and curfew in the organisation. The management instead of suspending them could have just transferred them to another plant in another part of the country. Also the management should be more open to trade unions . The workers want the recognition of the Maruti Suzuki Union and want it to be independent. The workers should negotiate and demand for it and in turn be willing to sign the code of good conduct without any hesitation.The management should be more specific what the code of conduct will contain and should seeks the support of the workers. In order to maintain harmony and peace in the organisation the management can give the workers incentives such a s bonuses and rewards for extra hard work .Also have a monthly discussion on what are the latest grieveances and problems and solve them effectively before they lead to drastic problems.The conflict could have been avoided by using the peacemaking technique.Forewood(2007) suggests that an organisation must organise problem solving workshops, economic incentives and disincentives for managing conflicts,conflict resolution education in zones of conflict and training to solve the conflict.Hence this should have been incorporated in the Manaesar plant to avoid all the strikes and labour unrest. It can also set up an Employment Tribunal.According to Daniels,(2006) an employment tribunal consists of a chairperson and two members.The chairperson is a fully qualified lawer who practices either full time or part time.The other two lay members have to have extensive knowledge on employment issues.One will be from employee background and the other from employer background. The three members of the employment tribunal have an equal vote in deciding the outcome of each case. Employment tribunal is very efficient as the employees can come with their grieveances to the tribunal and get it resolved.This body would give an impartial judgement on whether they had been treated unfairly. Hence the workers problems would be heard regularly and would be solved on time without creating drastic conflicts in the workplace . An employment tribunal would prevent the future risk that the organisation might face if the employees grieveances are not heard and taken into action immediately. This process is speedy and is an inexpensive process hence very beneficial for the company.


In conclusion we learn that conflicts are an integral part of the organisation. It represents communication breakdown. They can be minor or major in nature. No organisation can be perfect where conflicts do not exsist. Therefore organisations must develop conflict management systems based on various conflict solving techniques and theories From the above example we understand that it is very essential for organisations keep a regular check on their employees and understand their grievances. There should be a mutual understanding between the employer and employee. Every organisation must have a strong employee relation and a healthy work environment with the least conflicts. This is essential for the growth of the company and also if the employees needs are satisfied and his complaints are heard regularly this will prevent drastic fall outs in the work place such as strikes and labour unrests will be avoided.

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