Settlement reached: A Maruti stockyard
INDIA’S leading carmaker Maruti Suzuki ended a bitter month-long labour dispute with workers on Saturday (October 1) that cost the company millions of dollars in lost output.
The Japanese-controlled company and the workers at a Maruti plant in northern India had been at loggerheads since late August when the company locked out employees, accusing them of sabotaging cars on the production line.
“We are happy, everyone is happy that the strike is now over,” Maruti chairman R C Bhargava told reporters.
“We have reached a settlement and (full) production will resume on Monday,” Bhargava said after the two sides clinched an agreement following several hours of gruelling negotiations.
Maruti sells nearly half of all new cars in India.
Bhargava declined to put a figure on production losses due to the strike.
But a company executive told reporters it had lost production worth around $120m (£76.98m) as a result of the dispute. This came after nearly two weeks’ worth of production was lost in a labour row in June, costing Maruti close to $93m (£59.66m).
The South Asian nation is critical to Suzuki’s fortunes as it is the Japanese company’s biggest overseas market.
The dispute erupted as Maruti has been battling to boost its market share, which has shrunk to 45 per cent from 55 per cent in the past four years with global auto giants aggressively seeking to penetrate India’s fast-growing vehicle market.
The company produces the Swift and A-Star hatchbacks, and the SX4 sedan at the Manesar factory, which employs 2,000 workers.
The company continued to make some cars at the Manesar plant in Haryana state with the help of a few employees who had returned to work, supervisors, engineers and other trained people brought in by the company.
The company had asked all workers to sign what it called a “good conduct” bond, promising they would not sabotage production, before going back to work.
“Everybody will sign a good conduct undertaking and 18 apprentices who were dismissed will be taken back,” the company chairman said.
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