Auto sales slowdown impact: India's biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki cuts temporary jobs as sales plunge

Maruti Suzuki India said job cuts had accelerated since April.

Reuters August 03, 2019 21:25:55 IST
Auto sales slowdown impact: India's biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki cuts temporary jobs as sales plunge
  • The company rolled out its popular Maruti 800 model from the Gurugram plant in 1983

  • The Manesar and Gurugram plants have combined capacity to produce more than 1.5 million vehicles a year

  • The auto sales downturn has put jobs across the industry at risk

Manesar/New Delhi: India’s biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, said it had cut the number of its temporary workers to cope with a slowdown in auto sales, adding to the jobless problem in Asia’s third largest economy.

The vehicle industry, accounting for nearly half of India’s manufacturing output, is facing one of its worst slowdowns in nearly a decade, with vehicle sales falling rapidly. There is little sign of a swift revival.

Maruti Suzuki said in an email sent to Reuters it employed 18,845 temporary workers on average in the six months ended 30 June, down 6 percent or 1,181 from the same period last year. The company also said job cuts had accelerated since April.

Two sources familiar with the matter said the company would freeze hiring new employees until the downturn reversed.

It is the first time the reduction has been reported. The listed firm is not required to disclose any reduction in its temporary workforce.

Auto sales slowdown impact Indias biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki cuts temporary jobs as sales plunge

Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India RC Bhargava. Reuters

India’s jobless rate rose to 7.51 percent in July 2019 from 5.66 percent a year earlier, according to private data group CMIE. Those figures do not include many people on the margins of society who are day labourers and are often unemployed or underemployed.

Economists say government jobless figures are out of date and lack credibility.

Maruti Suzuki, majority-owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp, said it had not reduced its 15,892-strong more permanent workforce. It declined to say whether further reductions were planned or comment on the hiring freeze.

The automaker previously said it had cut production by 10.3% in the first six months of the year.

Maruti Suzuki, which produces every second passenger vehicle sold in India, reported a 33.5 percent decline in sales in July to 109,265 vehicles compared with July 2018.

Chairman RC Bhargava told Reuters the workforce was being reduced to reflect the slowdown in business, adding that this was one reason carmakers liked to have some temporary workers, although he did not give details about the job losses.

“One of the consequences of a slowdown is that the marginal players and weaker players find it difficult to survive. When do consolidations happen in business? Only when times are difficult,” he added.

Two temporary workers outside the Manesar plant in the northern Indian state of Haryana, who did not want to be named, said the number of days with three shifts had been reduces. They said some assembly lines at the plant were not operating.

Kuldeep Janghu, general secretary of the Maruti Udyog workers union, said the average wage of temporary workers were about $250 a month at the company’s Manesar and Gurugram plants.

The two plants have combined capacity to produce more than 1.5 million vehicles a year.

The company rolled out its popular Maruti 800 model from the Gurugram plant in 1983.

The auto sales downturn has put jobs across the industry at risk.

The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) said parts makers could slash a fifth of their 5 million workforce if the slump continued.

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