Up against labour unrest, Toyota Kirloskar Motor today ruled out compromising on discipline as workers at its two plants in Bidadi near Bangalore refused to sign an undertaking before resuming work with the lifting of a lockout.
Responding to the demand of the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union (TKMEU) for withdrawal of suspensions of some workers during the lockout on disciplinary grounds, the company said they must apologise first.
"Discipline is required when you are in an industrial environment with a large number of workers. They need to obey rules. The words compromise and discipline don't go together," Toyota Kirloskar Motors Vice Chairman - External Affairs Shekar Viswanathan told PTI.
He said the issue with the workers' union at the plant has now gone beyond the wage hike negotiations.
"We have suspended workers and inquiry will be conducted to decide what action must be taken...If they apologise, we are willing to take them back but if they don't, we have to take remedial action," Viswanathan said, without elaborating.
He said the company had previously also taken back suspended workers only under certain conditions.
TKM had asked the workers to sign an undertaking before entering the plant to resume work that they would "follow the rules and regulations of the company, which is a part of standing orders of the Labour Department of Government of Karnataka."
The company said it would keep shifts running and the plants would be open for 'team members to join duty on the condition that they would sign the undertaking.'
"Our prime concern is the safety of all our employees and the plant and its machinery. Besides, we cannot compromise on discipline on the shop floor," it said.
Earlier in the day, TKMEU President Prasanna Kumar said: "We have not resumed work today. We had said the company should lift lockout unconditionally and we will not sign any undertaking as desired by the company."
The TKMEU general body on Saturday said they were ready to resume work on March 24 but would not sign the undertaking.
Stating that the company would be 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.
"For the last seven years, we have given wage hikes ranging from 14-20 per cent when we did well. This fiscal we will be making losses and the next year also does not look rosy in terms of sales volumes. When the company does badly, the increase in pay cannot be dramatic," Viswanathan said.