India’s top carmaker Maruti Suzuki yesterday restarted production at a violence-hit plant near New Delhi, putting an end to a month-long lock-out after a riot left a manager dead and 96 injured.
“The Maruti factory at Manesar reopens today, production will also start today,” a senior official at Maruti said.
The official said about 300 workers had returned to work amid tight security provided by the police and private security guards that have been hired by the company to keep vigil at the Manesar plant.
During the riot on July 18 at the plant, a vital car production hub for Maruti in the state of Haryana, thousands of workers chased managers with iron rods and car parts, attacking them and torching equipment.
A personnel manager, whose legs were broken, was unable to flee and burned to death in an office area. Ninety-six other supervisors were injured in unrest that shocked India’s corporate sector.
Three days after the riot, Maruti locked out a total of 3,300 contract and temporary workers at the plant, which produces 1,500 cars a day or 40 percent of the company’s output.
Management also sacked more than 500 workers and over 150 have been arrested by the police.
The company plans to produce only 150 cars on the first day and intends to increase production in September.
An AFP reporter outside the plant saw workers forming queues at the main gate to enter the plant, with about 150 police standing guard inside and outside.
On Monday, the top management including company chief Shinzo Nakanishi and some Japanese engineers participated in religious rituals to bring blessings to the plant.
Maruti is majority-owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor which receives more than a quarter of its revenues from India.
The Indian unit, the country’s largest carmaker by sales, has lost some $ 9 million a day from the plant shutdown, analysts estimate.
Physical damage to the Manesar plant amounted to about 100 million rupees, the company said.