More labour problems are brewing at the Mitsubishi Motors assembly plant in Venezuela, according to a local report.
MMC Automotriz SA, a unionised subsidiary of Mitsubishi in eastern Venezuela, said in a statement that, starting a week ago, workers had been “constantly interfering” with production and falsely claiming there was a lack of worker safety, Dow Jones reported.
The company said its plant meets all government standards.
The assembler also said it had fired 11 workers and that the Labour Ministry approved the firings. Labour laws in Venezuela make it very difficult for companies to fire employees, and employers typically must receive government approval before action is taken.
Labour issues have been a growing problem in Venezuela under socialist President Hugo Chavez, who in recent years has nationalised many companies, and sometimes entire industries, Dow Jones noted.
Observers said some workers and unions want to see the companies they work for nationalised so they can become de facto government employees, and perhaps enjoy more job security.
MMC Automotriz spokeswoman Karina Maza Ramos told the news agency the 11 fired workers “are not permitted to come back.”
She added that the company doesn’t yet have specific figures on how much production has been affected by the problems.
Workers’ groups at the plant weren’t immediately available for comment.
Labour strife late last August caused the Mitsubushi plant to shut down completely for one month due to what the company called “high level of absenteeism, disobedience, aggression and lawlessness of some of the workers.”
The plant re-opened in late September with the help of government mediation between workers and management.
Leading up to the problems in August, the company said the plant was assembling just 33 cars a day, on average, with 1,412 workers, while in 2004, with 590 workers, it was churning out 59 vehicles a day.
Mitsubishi has manufacturing plants in four countries – the US, Netherlands, Thailand and Japan. There are also a number of other plants assembling vehicles locally from knocked-down (KD) kits and the Venezuela plant is one such. The automaker also has KD assembly plants in Colombia and Brazil.