Return to Previous Page

Nano Plant: Skilled Workers’ Unrest*

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

Case Preview

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% 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 units annually. Cars other than Nano are also planned to be rolled out from Tata Motors’ Sanand plant.........

Strike Started

According to the workers of Tata Motors , the dispute basically started in November 2015 when the workers got together to form a workers’ union. Workers alleged that just after the application to form the union was submitted to the management, the company began to harass them. February 22nd 2016 was the main day of labor war, the base of which goes back to December 2015 when Tata Motors suspended Chetak Patel and Kalpesh Rajput.........

Day Two

The strike at Tata Motors plant in Sanand entered the second day4 as neither the company’s management nor the protesting employees moved from their stand. The laborers were fixed on their request to get the suspension of 28 workers revoked and the management stated that any action in this regard would be taken only after the inquiry............

Day Three

With both Tata Motors and the workers’ committee firm on their stand, the strike at the Sanand plant entered the third day. While enquiry was completed for 2 workers, it was pending for the rest 26 laborers. A joint meeting between management and the workers committee was held in the presence of Deputy Labor Commissioner of Ahmedabad Labor Department. But both sides failed to reach an agreeable resolution...............

Day Five: Management Talked Tough

As the strike entered its fifth day, the workers raised the issue of enlistment of their union and additionally compensation and raise issues. As per Advocate Nihil Mehta, secretary of the Gujarat wing of Indian National Trade Union Congress, laborers were requested to rejoin work else the substitution workers would be procured...............

When 25 Workers Resumed Work

In the meanwhile, on February 25th 2016, all the 25 workers resumed9 work. M. S. Patel told that when a bus ferrying the workers was stopped at the main gate of the plant..........

Gujarat Government Declared Strike Illegal

The strike was declared illegal by the Gujarat Government. The report about the same was presented by Ahmedabad Labor Commissioner who also informed industrial tribunal about the matter. It was indicated by K. O. Shah, Additional Labor Commissioner of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, that the strike was illegal as per section.............

Roses and Spiritual Leadership, an Approach to End the Agitation

In a gesture reminiscent of ‘Gandhigiri’, the management of Tata Nano Plant offered roses to striking laborers in an effort to persuade them to leave the strike and resume their duties in the plant. Along with the blossoms was a note in Gujarati: “Tame hamare maatey mulyavaan chho (You are valuable to us)”.........

Strike Continued on Day 11

As the days passed, a three-party meeting was held between the company, the Labor Department and workers, at the Assistant Labor Commissioner’s office in Ahmedabad. Yet again, it resulted in no outcome at all..........

Day 13

Striking laborers continued to be disobedient regardless of propitiatory endeavors by the company administration and the Gujarat Government.........

More Workers Rejoin Duty on 14th Day of Strike

The day began with a positive note for the organization. Around 40 workers reported for work and the number was positively expected to increase.......

Tata Motors Moved to Court

When all the efforts of Tata Motors failed to make the striking workers rejoin the plant, the company moved to the Ahmedabad Sessions Court...........

Day 24th – Workers Got Support of Other Union Bodies

With the continued disturbed days, next major problem that came up for the management of Tata Nano Plant was, around 22 central and city-based trade unions extended their support to the workers on strike............

Protesting Workers Detained

Around 384 of the more than 600 disturbing laborers including those from Sanand plant, alongside individuals from around..........

Union Registration and Tata Motors Gives in to the Demands of Striking Workers

Tata Nano requested the Gujarat Government to register an ‘internal union without representation from outside’, which implied that they could not connect with any all-India trade union. Individuals from a few unions backing the specialists at the Sanand plant met Chief Executive authority of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA), A.B. Gor, communicating their worry at the falling apart of relations at the plant and the ‘factional mentality’ of the legislature in managing the circumstance...............

Tata Motors decided to get Pune Workers to run Sanand Plant

It was crucial time for Tata Motors to keep the plant working as they had just launched Tiago hatchback...............

Labour Department acknowledged the Union for Tata Nano Workers

It was 25 days later since the workers at the Tata Nano plant in Sanand went on strike, that the Labor Department acknowledged the laborers’ union of the plant...........

Mega Protest Rally at Sanand GIDC

Workers were still pressing for the reinstatement of all the suspended workers. With talks ending in disappointment, the Tata Nano specialists proceeded with a ‘mega dissent rally’ which comprised of 400 workers of Tata Nano, delegates of 22 other trade unions and agriculturists from adjacent towns of Sanand..................

Police Detains 300 Tata Nano Workers on Strike at Gujarat Plant

Around 300 striking laborers of Tata Nano plant were on March 19th 2016 confined by police when they assembled outside the plant to challenge the suspension of their collaborators at GIDC............

Strike at Sanand Plant Enters 27th Day

The other interest of the specialists – acknowledgment of their union by the Gujarat Government – which was the underlying reason for the conflict between the organization and its laborers..............

Workers Call Off the Strike After a Month

Finally, workers called off their over a month-long strike24 and resumed work from March 23rd 2016 and normalcy was reestablished at the Sanand plant. The stand-off between Tata Motors’ administration and the striking workers was cleared after the mediation of a senior.............

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.
III. ...............

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.


Rs 0
Product code: HRM-1-0067, HRM-1-0067A


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)

**Electronic downloadable links (PDFs, PPTs, Supplements etc.) are available immediately after purchase. Please use Indian Currency Option (INR) when you are Making Payment within India. "No. of Copies" reflects the number of permissions you intend to use in Classroom Discussions / Corporate Trainings.

No. of Copies
Rs 0

Related products

Request for an Inspection Copy

(Strictly for Review Purpose, Not to be Used for Classroom Discussion/Trainings)