Toyota management-workers impasse takes new twist

Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 21:18

Bangalore: A deadlock between the management and union of Toyota Kirloskar Motor took a new twist Monday after a lockout at its two plants at nearby Bidadi was lifted, with employees not resuming work as they objected to signing a good conduct undertaking.

The management, which had said it would lift the lockout after the government's conciliatory move last week, said it would keep the shifts running and the plants open for team members to join duty on the condition they would sign the "simple good conduct undertaking."

The union said the first shift employees were stopped at the gate as the management insisted they sign the undertaking, which they refused in line with their stand.

"We refused to sign, but they insisted on signing it and did not allow us inside," Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union (TKMEU) President Prasanna Kumar told reporters here.

He said they had planned to meet the chief minister to seek his intervention. The chief minister's officials said he was in Mysore and he could not intervene directly as the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls is in place.

"According to our plea, the lockout has to be lifted unconditionally, suspension of 30 members has to be cancelled and all our problems relating to workload, unsafe work conditions, wage revisions have to be solved. Government has to intervene and solve these issues," he added.

Kumar said the management has kept 30 members in suspension, pending enquiry without issuing any chargesheet.

"The company will welcome any steps that the Government of Karnataka can take to resolve the matter at the earliest," Toyota Kirloskar Motor said in a statement.

Announcing its decision to lift the lockout implemented on March 16, Toyota Kirloskar Motor on Thursday had said the workers were welcome to resume work with effect from March 24 after signing a simple undertaking on good conduct.

The TKMEU general body on Saturday said they were ready to resume work but would not sign any undertaking. 

Kumar said, "The undertaking sounds like we are accepting the lockout notice that blames us for issues related to delay tactics in work, threatening supervisors."

"....It also asks us to follow all rules, regulations or orders laid upon us without questioning it. Whatever they say will be final. It talks about not using mobile phones and the installation of electronic devices and cameras, which shows least respect to our basic rights," he added.

In response to a question on the next course of action, Kumar said, "Our stand is clear that we will not sign any undertaking. It (lockout) has to be lifted unconditionally. If they don't agree to this it means that lockout is in progress, so government has to intervene and prohibit the lockout."

Stating that the lockout was only against 4,200 union members, he said supervisors, contract employees, apprentice trainees and non-confirmed trainees are still working.

"Production is continuing, they are using unskilled workers to keep the work going;...They can run one shift using these employees...One shift can produce up to 350 to 400 vehicles...It varies," he said.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp of Japan, had on March 16 declared a lockout following failure of talks between the management and union over wages. The union is demanding a wage hike of Rs 4,000 as against Rs 3,050 proposed by the management.

Kumar said TKM has about 10,000 workers, of which 4,200 employees are union members. He alleged that the management was exploiting workmen by following unfair labour practices.

TKM today ruled out compromising on discipline and said the suspension of some workers on disciplinary grounds would be withdrawn only if they apologise first.

The issue with the workers' union at the plant has now gone beyond the wage hike negotiations, TKM Vice Chairman - External Affairs Shekar Viswanathan said.

Stating that the company would make losses due to the market conditions this financial year, Viswanathan said the workers need to understand the situation as far as wage hikes were concerned.


First Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 21:18

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