India's Largest Auto Manufacturer Trying to End Strike

The strike, which began on June 4, will have cost the company $31 million and 4,200 cars as of June 8.

Maruti Suzuki said on June 8 that talks were on with workers to end a four-day strike at a factory in north India, as losses mounted.

Japanese-controlled Maruti is losing production of about 1,200 cars and 400 million rupees (US$9 million) in revenue each day due to the walk-out at the Manesar plant in Harayana state.

"Talks are on (with workers) to resolve matters but there is no change. Production remains stalled," a company spokesman said.

The industrial action was sparked by demands for management to recognize a new union.

The strike, which began on June 4, will have cost the company 1.4 billion rupees (US$31 million) and 4,200 cars by June 8.

Some 1,200 cars are manufactured each day in two shifts at the production facility, mainly high-end mid-sized cars like the Swift Dzire and the SX4.

Haryana state's industry minister Randeep Singh Surjewala told the Press Trust of India news agency that they were "watching developments" and will ensure the strike does not transform into a wider dispute.

Maruti chairman R.C. Bhargava has called the action "illegal" as no notice was given to management.

The company has sacked 11 of its workers at Manesar this week because they "created an atmosphere where safety of people was in danger".

Bhargava has said delivery of diesel cars being produced at Manesar would be delayed, alongside some models meant for exports. One-fifth of the 350,000 cars produced each year by Maruti in Manesar are diesel models.

The strike comes as Maruti car sales grew by 1.9% year-on-year to 104,073 in May -- its slowest pace of growth in nearly three years -- as demand for cars in India moderates due to rising input costs and costlier auto loans.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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