• Kyodo

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Suzuki Motor Corp. Chairman Osamu Suzuki urged local authorities in India Sunday to quickly pin down the cause of the violent labor dispute at its plant in the northern state of Haryana.

Suzuki met in New Delhi with the chief minister of Haryana state, where Suzuki’s plant was damaged by violence triggered by a labor dispute in July.

At the meeting, Suzuki and Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda discussed issues related to the plant in Haryana run by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which was forced to shut down its Manesar plant for a month due to the violence, according to R. C. Bhargava, chairman of the Suzuki subsidiary.

Suzuki urged the chief minister to speed up the investigation and submit its report as soon as possible to identify the cause of the violence, he told reporters.

So far, several labor union members believed to have played a central role in the incident have been arrested and more than 500 workers have been fired. The cause of the violence, however, remains unclear.

Rampaging workers scuffled with plant supervisors, leaving a general manager dead and 96 supervisors and managers injured, including two Japanese managers. Haryana police have so far arrested more than 150 former workers on charges of arson, violence and rioting. Production only resumed last Tuesday.

Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest automaker, produces most of its cars in Haryana, and the cooperation of the state government in ensuring a stable operational environment is seen by the company as essential to its success there.

Bhargava denied the company has plans to stop investment in Haryana and said the Manesar plant will have a third production line and that a motorcycle plant is also in the works.

“Haryana is Maruti Suzuki’s home,” he emphasized.

The question arose because Suzuki, who is on a weeklong visit to India, met Friday with Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, where Suzuki is planning to build a new production facility.

To ensure the safety and security of Maruti Suzuki employees at the Manesar plant, the Haryana government is setting up a “rapid action force” of 500 police personnel, with 100 to be posted at the plant per shift, bolstered by a special force of 100 security guards created by the company itself.

Managers and supervisors have also been provided with “personal security officers, while security arrangements have been made at their residences.

Maruti Suzuki has fired about 500 full-time employees implicated in the violence. Bhargava said that issue figured in Sunday’s meeting, adding that the chief minister is of the view that all involved should be punished.

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