Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar factory was reopened last Tuesday just in time for the festival season in India. It was shut down last July 18 ago after a riot, which was preceded by months of labor unrest. The riot had led to the death of a manager and injuries of over 100 people. Plenty of police officers were on hand during the reopening of the plant to secure the main gate. More than 1,200 police officers were stationed in other areas of the site.
The plant’s closure had resulted to a loss in output amounting to over $250 million. Maruti Suzuki, India's largest carmaker, produces the Suzuki Swift hatchback at this plant.
Chairman R.C. Bhargava said that a skeleton staff has started a limited production at the plant where Maruti will start rolling out 150 cars a day – less than 10% of its average daily output. The intense fighting came after months of talks between workers' unions and management over the issue of raising the pay and the extensive use of contract workers.
Each month, the top-paid manufacturing workers at Manesar got 25,000 rupees ($450) while those on temporary contracts (about 1,500 workers) took home less than half of this amount.
Maruti Suzuki has terminated 500 workers and it has said that it will stop hiring contract workers after the riot. Maruti had expected 300 workers to return working at the plant but just 75 workers reported for duty.
Samundhar Singh, head of the local village council in Manesar, said that the workers were worried about another riot but he thinks that once they hear that it was peacefully reopened, they will then come back.