Maruti Udyog will soon offer a third voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to its 3,334 employees in an attempt to further reduce manpower and retain its competitive edge.

The company's annual report for 2003-04 says that, "In the light of mounting competitive pressures, a priority area for Maruti is to rationalise and redesign its manpower needs to transform itself into a lean and competitive organisation."

The company first introduced the VRS programme in 2001-02 when 1,050 employees took advantage of the scheme. The VRS was again offered in 2003-04, on the heels of the IPO success, with 1,251 employees opting to retire.

This is part of the 'Challenge 50' programme initiated by the company to boost the productivity by 50% in three years.

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup