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September 9, 2009

VENEZUELA: Mitsubishi assembly plant to re-start

Mitsubishi's labour strife-hit plant in Venezuela, which also assembles Hyundai models, will re-start operations later this month after being shut in August.

Mitsubishi’s labour strife-hit plant in Venezuela, which also assembles Hyundai models, will re-start operations later this month after being shut in August.

“On 21 September, workers and employees should start their productive activity, during their normal work hours,” said a statement from MMC Automotriz SA, the unionized subsidiary of Mitsubishi located in eastern Venezuela.

The assembly plant closed its doors on 24 August with management citing a “high level of absenteeism, disobedience, aggression and lawlessness of some of the workers”, Dow Jones noted.

The government had tried to order the plant to re-open, saying MMC had no right to unilaterally shut down when a labour contract was still in place but the company refused for weeks, saying it was worried about worker security.

This is the same Chavez government whose foreign exchange restrictions led to a three-month hiatus at GM’s local plant because the automaker could not pay suppliers abroad. It resumed output recently.

After negotiations with workers and government mediation help over the past couple weeks, the two sides in the Mitsubishi row made an agreement that allowed for the planned re-opening of the plant.

The plant said that as part of the re-opening, it would prohibit any pamphlets or brochures to be distributed or posted at the workplace that incite violence, hate or discrimination.

MMC had also complained about productivity. This year the plant was assembling an average of 33 cars a day with 1,412 workers compared with 59 by 590 workers in 2004.

Car sales in Venezuela dropped 51% in the first six months of the year, according to the automobile industry chamber, Dow Jones noted.

MMC reportedly has been paying its workers while they were off.

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