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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: October 2018

5 - Auto Workers in India's National Capital Region


The previous chapter focused on the transformation of work organisation and employment relations in India's automotive industry on a national scale. It also summarised existing literature on work and employment in the Indian auto industry. This chapter moves towards an explanation for the high levels of conflict documented in the auto industry by focusing on employment relations in the largest auto manufacturing region in India, the National Capital Region (NCR).

Despite considerable inter-regional competition since the 1990s, and the potential for rival regions like the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) or regional clusters in Gujarat to challenge and eventually overtake the NCR, this region remains India's leading auto manufacturing region in sales, production volume, and by virtue of the leading role of its passenger car and two-wheeler manufacturers. Global production networks led by Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in the passenger car market and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter Limited (HMSI) and Hero MotoCorp (Hero) in the two-wheeler markets dominate the auto industry. These networks have transformed the workplace and industrial landscape of communities across the NCR. This is especially true to the south of New Delhi in the semi-rural hinterland of Haryana.

As outlined in Chapter 4, MSIL's role in the industry epitomises the transformation of work organisation and employment relations under conditions of economic liberalisation. Its practice of systematically replacing most of its regular (or permanently-employed) shop-floor workforce with low-wage migrant workers hired through multiple labour contractors has been emulated by rival OEMs, by OEMs in other market segments, and by Tier-1 and Tier-2 auto supply manufacturers.

This argument is substantiated by focusing on the analysis of primary data drawn from several years of the author's field research in the NCR. Dozens of interviews with workers, including regular workers, casual and contract workers, as well as employers, managers, labour contractors, trade unionists, and local villagers and landowners were conducted over several months in late 2011, mid- 2012 and mid-2013.

This enabled the author to assemble a database of firms and suppliers, including their employment relations practices and wage levels, as well as numerous other

elements of work and life established through ethnographic research (see Appendix for full details of field research, data sources and interview participants). Access to these participants was gained in a number of ways.

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Making Cars in the New India
  • Online ISBN: 9781108380836
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