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Maruti factory shut, security tight

The gates at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar factory in northern India are shut and more than 500 police are on guard. Workmen are repairing the damage caused by rampaging employees who torched facilities, killing one manager and injuring more than hundred on July 18. Police are still looking for the perpetrators and plan to charge the union leaders with murder, assault and arson for instigating the revolt More than 2,500 workers have disappeared from the factory, fearful that they will be blamed for the violence. Labour union leaders say the riot was the culmination of a long-running struggle between the shop floor and management over wages and "unfair" management practices. SOUNDBITE: SECRETARY OF THE NEW TRADE UNION INITIATIVE, GAUTAM MODY SAYING (English): "At Manesar, Suzuki has said to the world that we are incapable of running a factory at Manesar. We are incapable of running a new car plant in India." India's labour laws, some dating to the 1920s, make it difficult for large companies to fire permanent workers. Employers say they need contractors for seasonal demand shifts. Manesar's best-paid manufacturing workers earn 450 USD (25,000 rupees) a month, and 1,500 more on temporary contracts, earn less than half that. Masako Iijima, Reuters

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