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Maruti declares lockout at Manesar; Swift production hit

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‘No compromise’: Mr S. Nakanishi, Managing Director, Maruti Suzuki, and Mr R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, at a press conference in the Capital on Saturday. — Kamal Narang
‘No compromise’: Mr S. Nakanishi, Managing Director, Maruti Suzuki, and Mr R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, at a press conference in the Capital on Saturday. — Kamal Narang

Maruti Suzuki has decided to declare a lockout at its violence-hit Manesar plant even as it awaits the Gurgaon police to complete the probe into the Wednesday clash.

Mr R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki, said the Haryana Government has been asked to expedite the investigation, adding there will be “no compromise” with the culprits.

“Maruti is the flag bearer for industrialisation in Haryana. There’s a lot of pressure from the Chief Minister (Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda)… We will not start operations till we’re convinced of the safety,” Mr Bhargava said in the first open interaction with media since the incidents.

Rumours of the company planning a complete shift to Gujarat because of the clash were quashed as “absolute fiction”. Gujarat is expected to only be used for additional capacity in two-three years.

“We will identify what has gone wrong. We will start on a clean slate. If a tsunami happens, what can we do? To my mind, this is of a similar nature,” Mr Bhargava said.

Production of the Swift and the Dzire, two top-selling models for Maruti, will now come to a halt. This is because these cars cannot be immediately made at the Gurgaon facility, as the welded body comes from Manesar. Production of the SX4 and the A-Star will also stop.

A month-long closure at Manesar could mean a Rs 2,660-crore loss of revenue, apart from further delaying deliveries of these four models.

“We have about 26,000 cars ready in the yard at Manesar. Dispatches for these have started to dealers,” Mr M.M. Singh, COO for Production, said.

On Wednesday, a dispute allegedly over the suspension of a worker led to some 3,000 plant workers going on the rampage. Mr Awanish Kumar Dev, General Manager (HR), was killed and 96 company officials were seriously injured. The rioters set company offices and a guard house on fire. So far, 91 people have been arrested.

Workers at the Manesar facility, who struck work for 33 days last year over union recognition, were in the midst of wage negotiations with the management.

Protest

In support of the Maruti workers’ cause, several trade unions, human rights and women’s organisations went on a march towards Haryana Bhavan on Saturday. They blamed what they called Maruti’s “high-handedness” in dealing with the workers and a poor working environment for the clash.

roudra.bhattacharya

@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 22, 2012)
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