Maruti: Plant Still Occupied by Striking Workers

NEW DELHI – Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the country’s largest car maker by sales, said Tuesday its factory in Manesar in northern India’s Haryana state remains idle as about 1,500 workers are still laying siege to the facility.

The strike began Friday after workers at the Manesar factory demanded the reinstatement of 44 suspended colleagues who weren’t taken back after a 33-day impasse with the management ended on Oct. 1.

The Manesar plant remains “captive in the hands of striking workers,” the local unit of Suzuki Motor Corp. said.

Workers at three other Suzuki units in Manesar–Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd., Suzuki Powertrain India Ltd. and Suzuki Castings Ltd.–have also halted work since Friday in support of their peers at Maruti.

The strike at Suzuki Powertrain, the sole supplier of diesel engines and transmissions to Maruti, has forced the auto maker to cut production at its Gurgaon plant, also in Haryana. Maruti produced 1,000 cars Tuesday in Gurgaon, down from 1,800 cars Monday and from 2,800 cars normally.

Maruti has already incurred a production loss of 20,000 cars, or six billion rupees ($122 million), from the previous labor unrest at Manesar.

It is also expected to further extend the waiting period for its popular Swift hatchback. Maruti received about 108,000 orders for an upgraded version of the car after its introduction in August.

Long delays in delivering cars could prompt customers to buy vehicles from Maruti’s rivals and can possibly jeopardize its dominant position in Asia’s third-largest automobile market.

Maruti had on Aug. 29 stopped production at Manesar after it asked 950 regular workers to sign a “good conduct bond” before they could enter the factory. The move came after the company said it discovered “serious and deliberate” quality problems in cars made at the plant.

The labor issue was resolved after the regular workers agreed to sign the bond on Oct. 1. Maruti refused to reinstate 44 of the 62 sacked workers as part of the pact with the striking workers.

The auto maker Tuesday reiterated that the current strike, which comes within a week of the agreement, and the workers’ demand of reinstating their sacked colleagues, violates the Oct. 1 pact.


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