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Police: Fired workers burn alive factory executive in India

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • The deputy general manager had signed termination letters for about a dozen workers, police say
  • Police have made two arrests
  • The attack follows a year of labor unrest at the factory, officials say
  • In 2009, angry workers in southern India beat to death a company executive

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Workers, angry at being fired, burned alive a senior executive of a steel factory in eastern India, police said Friday.

The attack on R.S. Roy, a deputy general manager at the Graphite India Limited's steel unit in Orissa state, took place Thursday after he signed termination letters for about a dozen workers, police said.

The angry workers stopped Roy's car and attacked him -- before setting him and the car on fire, said police superintendent Ajay Kumar Sarangi.

Police have arrested two people and have formed a special squad to apprehend the rest, he said.

Thursday's assault, according to police, followed more than a year of labor unrest at the factory.

The company had suspended about 54 workers earlier. About 12 of them were finally fired Thursday, Sarangi said.

Roy died on the way to hospital, he added.

In September 2009, angry workers beat to death a human resources vice-president after he laid off 42 employees at an auto-parts manufacturing company in southern India.

And in 2008, the Indian head of the Italian company Graziano Transmissioni was allegedly killed by a mob of fired employees.

Companies in the South Asian nation, despite its rapid economic growth in recent years, have often been faced with tough labor issues because of archaic laws and company policies on hiring and retrenchment.

Some business consultants in India blame such labor standoffs on what they call a lack of transparency in retrenchment or layoff policies.