DETROIT (REUTERS) -- Chrysler Group fired 13 workers at a Detroit vehicle assembly plant after a local television station report showed some of them drinking on their lunch breaks.
Two other workers were also suspended for a month without pay, the automaker said Monday.
Acting on a tip, a Detroit Fox News affiliate's cameras and reporter captured workers from the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant guzzling beer and, in some cases, smoking what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes or other smoking material.
The Fox station in Detroit began its investigation of the lunchtime activities of some workers at a park near the plant in Detroit within days of President Obama's July 30 visit and speech in which he praised auto workers whose jobs were saved by the 2009 federal bailout of Chrysler.
The story caused much discussion on Detroit area radio stations. Callers expressed opinions ranging from outrage at the workers who returned to work after the lunch breaks to criticism of the TV station for airing the report.
Chrysler in a statement issued Monday said redundant manufacturing control systems ensure the quality of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV assembled at the factory.
“It should be clear that Chrysler Group will not tolerate such behavior and will continue to evaluate its protocols to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” the statement read.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the first major all-new vehicle to be introduced by Chrysler since last year's bankruptcy and bailout by the federal government with taxpayer dollars.
“It is unfortunate that the actions of a few people have called into question the reputation of more than 51,000 very proud, hard-working Chrysler Group employees, grateful that the (U.S.) and Canadian taxpayers gave us a second chance,” said a company statement. “We take that responsibility very seriously and will work to restore the public's faith.”
Chrysler is under the management control of Italy's Fiat SpA.