Production woes: Maruti cars at Sanand near Ahmedabad
STRIKE-HIT Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest carmaker, resumed “limited” operations yesterday and began talks to settle a labour row that has cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
The company, majority owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp, said it restarted some operations at its strike-bound Manesar plant in northern India with the help of employees not taking part in the work stoppage.
But no cars at the plant, 50 km (30 miles) south of New Delhi, were actually being produced.
“Production has started in a limited way. To start with, the welding shop has been made operational,” Maruti said in a statement.
The Manesar factory has been hit by repeated labour unrest since June, costing the company at least `17.50bn ($356.5m/£232.48m) in lost output.
India is Suzuki Motor’s biggest foreign market and vital to its fortunes.
The 1,500 strikers ended an eight-day sit-in at the plant late Friday (October 14) after a court order, and maintained a picket outside the factory yesterday.
Output at Maruti’s main plant in nearby Gurgaon also resumed yesterday after being halted late last week by a parts shortage caused by sympathy strikes at other Suzuki-owned factories.
But only those cars - such as the Eeco family van - that do not rely on parts from strike-hit units could be produced.
“Output will be a fraction of normal,” a Maruti spokesman told reporters, asking not to be named in line with company policy.
Manesar normally produces around 1,100 cars daily while Gurgaon makes 2,800.
The Maruti spokesman said the company began talks with the strikers yesterday that were still continuing late in the day. He said he could not comment on their progress while union officials could not be reached.
Underlying the long-running dispute at Manesar is Maruti’s refusal to recognise the strikers’ union as well as what the employees say is a deteriorating work climate caused by company demands for greater productivity.
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