October 1, 2011 / 11:46 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-India Maruti says strike at plant ends; Sept sales down 21 pct

* Maruti says production loss of about $135 mln due to the month-long strike

* Says striking workers to resume work from Oct 3

* Tata Motors Sept sales up 22 pct, Mahindra’s up 25 pct

* Maruti, Tata Motors shares underperforming broader mkt this yr (Adds Sept sales numbers from Maruti, Tata Motors and Mahindra)

By Devidutta Tripathy and Swati Pandey

NEW DELHI, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Maruti Suzuki , India’s top car maker, said a month-long strike at one of its plants that cost the company about $135 million in lost output ended on Saturday, after workers agreed to sign discipline agreements.

Maruti, 54.2 percent owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor , also said its vehicle sales in September fell about 21 percent from a year earlier as the labour unrest disrupted production.

Workers at Maruti’s Manesar factory in the northern Haryana state walked out on Aug. 29 after the company demanded they sign a “good conduct bond”, saying some had engaged in sabotage.

The company said in a statement the strike had been resolved and the workers agreed to sign a “good conduct bond”. The striking workers will resume work on Oct. 3, the company said.

A Maruti spokesman said the company suffered a production loss of about 22,000 cars, or an estimated loss of 6.6 billion rupees ( $ 135 million), over the strike period.

In June, about 800 workers went on a 13-day strike at the plant, which makes cars including the popular Swift model, crippling production and leading to more than $90 million in lost output. [

Maruti will not pay the striking workers for the period of the strike, it said, adding the 44 employees against whom it had taken disciplinary action would not be taken back.

Representatives of the workers were not available for comment.

The carmaker had said it would not compromise with the workers who were refusing to sign the discipline agreement, and was steadily hiring new employees.

Maruti and its rivals are battling a slowdown in car sales in Asia’s third-largest economy as higher interest rates and fuel costs hit demand, after record growth last fiscal year.

Industry car sales fell in July for the first time in nearly three years and continued the decline in August. Sales are expected to grow by just 10 to 12 percent this fiscal year to next March, down from an earlier forecast of 16 to 18 percent and compared with a 30 percent jump in 2010/11.

Tata Motors , which makes both commercial vehicles and cars, including the ultra-cheap Nano small car, said its September sales rose 22 percent from a year earlier. Nano sales, however, were down 47 percent, after plunging 85 percent in August.

Mahindra & Mahindra , India’s largest utility vehicles and tractor maker, reported a 25 percent growth in September sales from a year earlier and said the month’s sales were a record for the company.

Maruti shares have fallen nearly 24 percent in 2011, while Tata shares have lost more than 40 percent, both underperforming a nearly 20 percent fall in the broader Mumbai market. Mahindra shares are up 3.4 percent this year. ($1=48.93 rupees) (Editing by Robert Birsel)

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