Toyota Kirloskar Motors withdraws lockout at Bidadi plant, union to continue strike – The News Minute

However, none of the demands of the striking employees have been addressed, and the employee union continues to protest.

Toyota Kirloskar Motors announced on Tuesday that it is withdrawing the lockout at its Bidadi plant in Karnataka. The lockout first began on November 10, was briefly withdrawn and was resumed on November 23, and has been on since as workers continue to protest over workload and unfair processes. Of Toyota Kirloskar’s total staff at Bidadi of nearly 6,000, around 3,500 are part 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. 

Over two months since the protests began, TKM has said that after a meeting with Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwathnarayan and having observed “a gradual improvement in safety situation, both inside and outside the company premises”, the lockout has been withdrawn, and operations will be enhanced from the second shift on Tuesday.  TKM said in a statement that employees will have to “sign a simple undertaking for good conduct and report to work”. 

However, a member of the Toyota Kirloskar Motors Employees Union said that of the 3,500 members who were on strike, around 300 people have agreed to sign the undertaking and return to work, and the remaining will continue to be on strike. With employees having to sign an undertaking and the 66 employees being suspended, the Union alleges that none of the striking employees’ demands have been addressed so far. 

Toyota had called the strike by the employee union illegal, which is why the lockout was announced, and said that limited production was resumed at the time with 1,200 employees who had signed an undertaking.  

“…the company had resumed production with over 1200 team members who had expressed their intention to work with discipline, through a simple undertaking of good behaviour,” TKM said in a statement. 

The union meanwhile has maintained that the lockout was illegal and has expressed disappointment at the company’s unilateral decision to commence operations without addressing their concerns. “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,” the union send in a statement, reacting to the withdrawal of the lockdown. The union has also demanded that all employees should be paid full compensation during the lockdown period.

Further, despite the lockout being withdrawn, the suspension pending enquiry of 66 unionized employees for “serious misconducts” will continue and domestic enquiries will be conducted adhering to the principles of Natural Justice. 

“The safety and well-being of all our stakeholders and especially our employees being of 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 said. 

Watch our news documentary from Bidadi earlier

Read: Ground report: 37 days in, why Toyota Kirloskar workers in Bidadi continue to protest

Also read: Politics, industry, workers’ rights: The balance K’taka needs to strike post Wistron

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