India's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki plans to partially resume operations at one of its factories, a spokesman said on August 30, after it locked out workers in a dispute over alleged sabotage.
Production of cars was halted on August 29 after the firm accused some workers of "sabotaging production and deliberately causing quality problems" at the plant, which rolls out 1,200 vehicles every day in two shifts.
"We plan to resume some manufacturing operations later in the day with the help of supervisors and alternative contractual workers," the Maruti spokesman said, declining to be named, citing company policy. Maruti has so far suspended 26 workers and sacked another 17 on charges of hampering output at the plant.
The production problems were discovered last week during quality-control checks and included doors falling off and dents in car bodies, according to the company. It is the third dispute to affect production at Maruti in three months. The company produces the Swift and A-Star hatchbacks, and the SX4 sedan at the Manesar plant.
The Japanese-controlled company has demanded that workers sign a "good conduct" pledge before allowing them into the Manesar plant in the northern state of Haryana. 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. So far, 29 workers out of a workforce of nearly 2,000 at the plant have signed the bond, the spokesman said.
Workers denied the allegations of sabotaging production at the company, which sells nearly half of all new cars in India.
Maruti chairman R.C. Bhargava said he was unsure how long the labor problems would continue.
"Once a problem starts, it does not just go away," he told CNBC TV-18 on August 30, adding that problems had remained unresolved since first erupting in June.
In June, 11 days' worth of production was lost, costing the company nearly $93 million, after workers downed tools demanding recognition of a new union and the reinstatement of dismissed workers.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
India's Top Automaker Demands Employees Sign 'Good Conduct' Pledge