Toyota lifts lockout, but employees to continue protest

Toyota lifts lockout, but employees to continue protest
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Toyota lifts lockout, but employees to continue protest

Highlights

In a major development on Tuesday, Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) announced lifting of the lockout at its Bidadi-based manufacturing plants in the State.

Bengaluru: In a major development on Tuesday, Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) announced lifting of the lockout at its Bidadi-based manufacturing plants in the State. The automobile company announced lockout on November 10 last year following strike called by employees union. The company management was forced to announce a second lockout at the two facilities on November 23, 2020. Of the 6,000 Toyota Kirloskar's total staff at Bidadi, around 3,500 are members of the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union.

The lockout started because of an increase in workload, with TKM allegedly wanting to raise the number of cars produced from 300 to 360 without any increase in manpower or timings. The increase in workload, the union had alleged, was unscientific and illegal and was put in place without enough technical study and led to a protest.

The statement released by the Toyota Kirloskar Motor on Tuesday said, "In view of a recent meeting held between Ashwathnarayan, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka, with the TKM management and having observed a gradual improvement in safety situation, both inside and outside the company premises, the management has decided to withdraw the lockout, without any compromise to discipline and productivity". The company further said that employees will have to "sign a simple undertaking for good conduct and report to work".

It was reported recently that the employees union pointed out that Toyota's production practices, based on Kaizen or continuous improvement, were one of the main reasons for the tension between the management and the employees.

But, some members of the union claimed that of the 3,500 members who were on strike, only 300 agreed to sign the undertaking and return to work, and the remaining will continue to be on strike. Alleging that the company did not address any of the demands of employees, the union found the condition that employees should sign an undertaking for good behaviour and continued suspension of 66 employees, unacceptable.

Toyota had called the strike by the employee union illegal and announced lockout. It had resumed production with 1,200 employees who had signed an undertaking of discipline and good behaviour.

Reacting to the lockout withdrawal, TKM Employees Union, in its statement, said, "The workers were not on strike. Our various attempts to invite the attention to this issue was not at all responded by management. We have evidence of it. The management's conditions are anti-labour and we want to make it clear, although management has tried to ignore the union." It has also demanded full pay to employees for the lockdown period.

"The suspension, pending enquiry, of 66 union employees for serious misconduct will continue and domestic enquiries will be conducted in line with the principles of natural justice," said the company statement.

"The safety and well-being of all our stakeholders and especially our employees being utmost importance to us, and we would like to emphasize that basic discipline will continue to be the cornerstone of our business principles and we will not compromise on behaviour and acts that threaten Toyota's safety philosophy and its brand value in the country," Toyota's statement reads.

The 432-acre TKM plant in Bengaluru has two production plants with a total installed capacity of 3.10 lakh units per annum.

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