[OPE] A sign of the times? Changing labor relations in India

From: <glevy@pratt.edu>
Date: Wed Sep 24 2008 - 08:29:31 EDT

CEO murdered by mob of sacked Indian workers - Times Online

CEO murdered by mob of sacked Indian workers

Rhys Blakely in Bombay
Update: Outrage as minister says attack
'serves as warning'

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of
workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who sacked them from a
factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the
head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, a manufacturer of
car parts that has its headquarters in Italy, died of severe head wounds
on Monday after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police
said. The incident, in Greater Noida, followed a long-running dispute
between the factory's management and workers demanding better pay and
permanent contracts.

It is understood that Mr Choudhary, who
was married with one son, had called a meeting with more than a hundred
former employees who had been dismissed after an earlier outbreak of
violence at the plant. He wanted to discuss a possible reinstatement deal.

A police spokesman said: "Only a few people were called
inside. About 150 people were waiting outside when they heard someone from
inside shout for help. They rushed in and the two sides clashed. The
company staff were heavily outnumbered."

Other executives
said that they were lucky to escape with their lives. "I locked my
door from inside and prayed they would not break in. See, my hands are
trembling even three hours later," one Italian consultant told

More than 60 people were arrested and more than 20
were in hospital yesterday.

A spokesman for the Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: "Such a heinous act is
bound to sully India's image among overseas investors."

The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardising
the sub-continent's economic rise. Thousands of violent protesters
recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and
Jaguar, to halt work on a plant being built to produce the world's
cheapest car, the 1,250 Nano. The move could result in 200
million in investment costs being written off.

Tata stopped
work three weeks ago, saying that it could not guarantee its workers'
safety at the factory in the state of West Bengal. The billionaire
industrialist Mukesh Ambani said that the Nano crisis showed how
protesters were creating "a fear psychosis to slow down certain
projects of national importance". Other companies, including Vedanta,
the London-listed mining company, have encountered similar problems in

In a statement issued from Rivoli,Italy, Graziano said
that some of Mr Choudhary's attackers had no connection with the company.

Deadly work

- 1986 In Edmond, Oklahoma, 14 postal
employees were killed by a part-time letter carrier who was about to be

- 1996 A former employee of a car parts supplier in
New York state shot dead a manager who had demoted him, and wounded two
other workers

- 2005 A former employee of an international
school in Cambodia took dozens of children hostage and shot dead a
two-year-old Canadian boy

Sources: Asian Week, Times archives

Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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