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Nano Plant: Skilled Workers’ Unrest*

ET Cases - GSMC, 11 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Rajwinder Kaur, Sameer Pingle - Nirma University, Ahmedabad

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Nano Plant: Skilled Workers’ Unrest


Chetak Patel (Chetak) was hired from Industrial Training Institute (ITI), which is located at Visnagar in Mehsana, for Nano manufacturing plant of Tata Motors Ltd. (Tata Motors) at Sanand, Gujarat. After seven years of working with the firm, Chetak was suspended for misconduct, along with Kalpesh Rajput, and then started a battle with the management. He got a ‘charge sheet’ on December 17th 2015, mentioning he was absent from work between 1350 hours and 1445 hours on December 16th 2015. Next, a strike started, this being the root cause for a massive movement to come in. The management of Tata Motors had to take key decisions to handle the situation. It required ample rigor from the key decision makers to solve the crisis. World’s cheapest car producers would have never dreamt that this unrest will be of such a huge scale that 95%1 of the workers will go off the job.

Tata Sanand Plant

The Sanand facility is the only Tata plant where Tata Nano is manufactured. The Nano plant, which was originally to be set up in West Bengal, was later shifted to Gujarat. It has a total production capacity of 3.5 lakh units2 annually. Cars other than Nano are also planned to be rolled out from Tata Motors’ Sanand plant.

1 Laskshmi Ajay and Avunash Nair, “Hardlook: Bumps on Nano speedway in Gujarat”,, March 21st 2016 (accessed date: April 21st 2016)

2 Arghy Gangualy, “From Nano to magna”,, July 9th 2011 (accessed date: April 20th 2016)

Teaching Note Preview

Nano Plant: Skilled Workers’ Unrest



This case describes and examines the developments at the Tata Nano plant located at Sanand, Gujarat, which took place during November 2015 - March 2016. When Tata Motors was about to launch a new model from its Sanand plant it faced a major hurdle in the form of workers’ strike. The strike affected production management, time management, human resource management, etc. This case throws light on decision-making of authorities to handle the situation of mass strike. This case discusses the steps taken by the management to bring the employees back to work. The case also discusses how the strike became a national level issue although it started as a plant level issue. What made the fire to spread throughout the nation? How and what were the final decisions taken by the management and the employees, which helped to bring normalcy to the plant?

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion

The students are required to read the following mandatorily for meaningful discussion and adequate analysis of the case:

  • • Ratnam C.S 2010 “Industrial relations”, Industrial Relations, 18th Edition, Oxford University Press.
  • • Sen R. 2011 “Industrial relations at Maruti Suzuki”, The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 47, No. 2.


Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used for post graduate management students in all domains under Industrial Relations course and Employee Relations course.

Assignment Questions

I. What are the various reasons for industrial unrest? Discuss the role of top management in maintaining industrial relations?
II. Discuss the role of trade unions in industrial relations with reference to Dunlop Theory and Stakeholder framework.


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Tata Motors Ltd. which gave the world the cheapest car ‘Nano’ could have barely envisioned the period where 95% of its permanent skilled workers will go on strike to oppose the management. Of late, there have been real strikes in the auto business in different areas. Restrictions in the broad utilization of contract labor as ruthless exploitation and a lever to push down conditions for all the workers employed, has been a key issue in the vast majority of these battles.

Objective of this case study is to learn about the developments at Tata Nano Plant, Sanand, Gujarat, which took place during November 2015 - March 2016 and the different kinds of dealings between the management and the workers in that period.

Success of any industry greatly depends on the relationship that employer and employees share. This case study will be very helpful in familiarizing with the practical know-how of the problems arising due to this unrest for the employer and the employees.

Pedagogical Objectives

  • To know about the developments in the Tata Nano Plant during November 2015 - March 2016
  • To understand the different kinds of negotiations between the management and the workers during workers’ unrest

Case Positioning and Setting
This case study can be used for post graduate management students in all domains for courses in Industrial Relations and Employee Relations.

* GSMC 2017, IIM Raipur

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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