The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HM ready to jack up output

Calcutta, July 12: Hindustan Motors, the CK Birla flagship, has decided to scale up production to 65 cars per day at its Uttarpara plant even though Ambassador sales have slumped to 1,000 per month.

The rise in production also comes at a time when the company’s 5,700 workers are not being paid on time.

The decision was announced to the workers recently by S. Pattu, executive vice-president of Hindustan Motors.

A company spokesperson, when contacted at Birla House in Delhi, said: “We currently produce 50 cars per day and sell 1,000 cars per month. We want to achieve the right production level. We will launch new-look models of the Ambassador soon. The cars would be better in comfort and performance. Following the launch of these new variants, we expect the demand to rise.”

The company hopes to sell 16,000-20,000 cars in the current financial year. Last year, the company sold 14,000 cars.

In June, even though the company was able to create a demand for 1, 500 vehicles, it failed to produce that volume of cars. The company had to face the threat of cancellation of 300 vehicles as the workers were not producing the stipulated 80 vehicles per day.

The employees said that with a workforce of 5,600 it was not possible for them to produce 80 vehicles per day. “The company, in its July 3 communication, said that it is not in a position to supply materials to produce the necessary number of cars,” Ajit Chakroborty of the Intuc union said.

The company said it plans to introduce two to three shifts at the Uttarpara plant once the demand picks up.

The Uttarpara plant, which was modernised at a cost of Rs 70 crore in 1999, produces passenger cars like Ambassador, Contessa and multi-utility vehicles like Trekker, Porter and Pushpak. Even though only 4-5 Contessas are sold per month, the company continues to make it and even plans to come out with a ‘refurbished’ Contessa soon.

The company has not given any timeframe on when the wage payment of its workers would be regularised. The spokesperson said, “Our intention is to regularise the payment of the workers in the current fiscal. But we cannot give a particular time frame.”

The company has also come up with an exchange scheme for replacing old cars. The automobile owner will have to make a down payment of Rs 35,000. The company has tied up with financiers who will provide easy loans to the owners.

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