The company has suspended 26 and sacked 17 workers on charges of hampering the output at the plant
INDIA`S largest car maker Maruti Suzuki said it had partially resumed operations at one of its plants on Tuesday (August 29) after locking workers out in a dispute over alleged sabotage.
A spokesman for the Japanese-owned company said operations in highly automated areas like welding and painting had restarted but no cars had rolled off the assembly line since Monday.
The Japanese-controlled company has demanded that workers sign a "good conduct" pledge before allowing them back into the Manesar plant in the northern state of Haryana.
Just 36 out of a workforce of nearly 2,000 at the plant have signed the bond but they "have already been deployed in operations that began this afternoon", Maruti said.
Manesar plans to hire over 200 contract employees to start work in the coming days to help bring production back on track.
"We are confident that the production will be ramped up in the next few days," said a company spokesman, who declined to be named because of company policy.
So far, the resumption of operations has relied mostly on the factory’s 290 supervisors as well as 50 engineers from the company`s nearby Gurgaon plant, the company said.
Managers and engineers have been scouting for experienced manpower in the neighbourhood of the plant, it added.
Workers` representatives were unavailable for comment. Maruti is closed on Wednesday (August 31) because of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of Ramadan.
Production of cars was halted on Monday after the firm accused some workers of "sabotaging production and deliberately causing quality problems" at the factory, which rolls out 1,200 vehicles every day in two shifts.
The company has suspended 26 workers and sacked another 17 on charges of hampering output at the plant.
The "good conduct" bond is an assurance from the workers that they will not sabotage production, resort to go-slow tactics or otherwise hamper output, the company said.
The labour dispute is the third to affect production at Maruti in as many months.
The company, which sells nearly half of all new cars in India, produces the Swift and A-Star hatchbacks, and the SX4 sedan at the Manesar plant.
Problems were discovered last week during quality-control checks and included doors falling off and dents in car bodies, according to the company.
Workers have denied allegations they sabotaged production.
Maruti chairman R.C. Bhargava said he was unsure how long the disruption would continue.
"Once a problem starts, it does not just go away," he said, adding that problems had remained unresolved since first erupting in June.
In June, 11 days of production were lost at a cost of nearly $93 million (£57 mn).
Workers downed tools after the company refused to recognise a new union and demanded the reinstatement of dismissed workers.
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