TOYOTA Kirloskar Motor said on Tuesday it had started operations on a limited scale with the help of non-unionised staff. However, union members alleged they were not allowed to resume work for the second consecutive day since the lock-out at the two manufacturing units at Bidadi was lifted on Monday.
With both the management and the employees union sticking to their respective stands, and the Karnataka government refusing to confirm whether it would intervene, the stalemate could continue. MB Dyaberi, labour secretary, told FE: “The lockout has been lifted; only, the workers have to go and work. Conciliation can always go on.”
“We are ready to work, but without any undertaking from each of us individually. The undertaking requires to agree to the reasons cited for the lockout, delay tactics and the threatening of supervisors,” said Satish R, general secretary of the TKM Employees Union. “The management wants a good conduct assurance and the union is ready to give this. But if each and every employee has to give an undertaking, then what value does the collective representation of the union have? We will take the responsibility for maintaining discipline.”
Toyota said in a statement on Monday it would welcome any steps that the Karnataka government takes to resolve the matter. The company lifted its eight-day lockout on Monday after the labour department held conciliatory talks with it last week. The 4,200-member strong union said its members reported to work at the two plants on Tuesday morning but were again not allowed to join because they refused to sign an undertaking on good conduct.
However, the plants were run on a single shift by deploying around 2,113 apprentices, contract workers and supervisors on Tuesday, Satish confirmed.
“It’s absolutely untrue that Toyota is running its plants using 1,000 contract workers and 2,000 apprentices. We have started limited plant operations with the help of non-unionised team members, of whom majority are supervisors and engineers,” TKM said in a statement on Tuesday. The company has said that it would keep its shifts running and that employees could join duty provided they signed a good conduct undertaking.
“We are open for an immediate resolution of the issue. The ball is in the labour department's court,” said Satish. The union's objection is that the undertaking requires them to agree to the reasons cited – including delay tactics and threatening of supervisors – for issuing the lock-out notice on March 16. The union alleges that the lockout was declared by the management to divert the focus from the main issue of wage negotiations.
Toyota had declared a lockout on March 16 on the grounds that some employees were disrupting production after protracted wage negotiations between the management and the employees' union proved inconclusive. The TKM employees' union has been demanding an increment of R4,000, which is on par with the raise given last fiscal, but the management has offered Rs 3,050 citing a challenging business environment.