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Mitsubishi reopens Venezuela plant after strike

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Monday it has reopened the Venezuelan car assembly plant it idled last month because of labor disputes.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Monday it has reopened the Venezuelan car assembly plant it idled last month because of labor disputes.

The plant in eastern Anzoategui state is producing at 60 percent capacity, but tensions with some employees remain, a company official told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Mitsubishi's Venezuelan affiliate closed the plant, which employs about 1,400 people, on Aug. 24 in response to protests by workers who said they were owed time off.

The workers have staged several strikes over the past year, including one that lasted for three months, leading to losses of about $83 million.

The company official said Mitsubishi will experience significant annual losses and will only produce about 6,000 vehicles this year, down from 10,944 last year. He said the automaker is now producing some 60 vehicles a day.

Mitsubishi restarted operations this month after the Labor Ministry intervened, ordering the automaker to reopen the plant while prohibiting the onsite distribution of labor pamphlets invoking violence.

General Motors Co., the largest automaker in Venezuela, also shut down operations for more than six weeks this year because it was unable to obtain the dollars it needed to pay for imported car parts.

Under currency controls imposed by President Hugo Chavez in 2003, Venezuelan travelers and importers must apply to a government agency for dollars at the official rate. But the government has been providing fewer dollars as depressed world oil prices limit revenue.