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Maruti Suzuki reopens Manesar plant following clashes

Maruti Suzuki restarts production at its Manesar plant in India, after a lock-out following clashes between workers and management in which a manager was killed and almost 100 supervisors were injured.

Sacked workers, trade unionists and family members of workers demanded that sacked workers be reinstated during a protest in New Delhi yesterday. AFP
Sacked workers, trade unionists and family members of workers demanded that sacked workers be reinstated during a protest in New Delhi yesterday. AFP

MUMBAI // Maruti Suzuki restarted production at its Manesar factory in India yesterday, after a month-long lockout following violent clashes between workers and management in which a manager was killed and almost 100 supervisors were injured.

India’s largest car maker reopened the factory in the northern state of Haryana for partial production amid heavy security.

Hundreds of police officers were present around the plant yesterday, according to local reports.

Some 500 plant workers were sacked following the clashes that erupted on July 18 as a result of labour unrest. Amid the violence, Awanish Kumar Dev, a general manager, was burnt to death inside the factory.

The lockout at the Manesar plant was announced on July 21 to try to ensure the safety of employees following the riots.

Estimates put production losses at the factory as a result at about US$250 million (Dh918.3m). The company had indicated about 300 staff were scheduled to be working at the plant yesterday, about one-tenth of its normal workforce. It was not clear, however, how many workers showed up. A Reuters report quoted Samundhar Singh, the head of the local village council in Manesar, as saying only 75 workers went in while others stayed away because they were worried for their safety.

The company has said production at the Manesar plants is to be increased in phases.

“We were expected to produce 150 units when we started at Manesar,” RC Bhargava, the chairman of Maruti Suzuki told India’s Economic Times yesterday.

“I am not fully aware of how many people have come to work there but we have enough workers, including our own supervisors, who will ensure that this level of production is certainly achieved.”

Mr Bhargava said he was unable to predict when the factory would be likely to return to full capacity.

“We have to wait and see how the situation develops, how the workforce reports and what kind of approach they have to working. Only on that basis we can keep making our future programmes.”

The state government has taken steps to improve security for employees at the plant, including setting up a rapid-action force of 500 police personnel, Maruti Suzuki said last week.

The car company “has created a special force of 100 security guards, including ex-servicemen, at its Manesar plant in addition to the existing security force”, it said.

“In accordance with the declared policy to not employ contract workers provided by contractors on the direct production line, the company has started the process of directly hiring them,” said Maruti Suzuki. “The schedule of recruitment has been communicated to all the existing contract workers through the contract agencies and recruitment would start from September 2.”

Maruti Suzuki is a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation, based in Japan.

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