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Home >News >India >Toyota Kirloskar lifts lockout at Bidadi plant

Toyota Kirloskar Motors Pvt. Ltd on Tuesday lifted a prolonged lockout of its factory, which affected production at one of India’s biggest automobile plants.

However, a full resumption of operations is unlikely as the unionized employees are against a condition set by the company of seeking an undertaking of good conduct from each worker.

Toyota Kirloskar has also decided to continue the suspension of 66 unionized employees for “serious misconduct" pending completion of an inquiry.

The unit of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. said the step to lift the lockout that was first imposed on 10 November was taken “without any compromise on discipline and productivity" and that it would be “in the interest of both team members and their families as well as the company".

“Consequent to the lifting of the lockout, operations will enhance with effect from (the) second shift of January 12, 2021 in both the plants. Employees returning to work will sign a simple undertaking for good conduct and report to work," the automaker said.

The demand for an undertaking from the workers to keep discipline and ensure productivity has widened differences between the assembly line workers and the management.

Pradeep, vice president of the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union told Mint that they are unlikely to resume work as the company has not addressed any of their concerns while it has retained the undertaking clause.

Terming the management’s conditions as “anti-labour", M.N. Gangadhar, the union’s joint secretary, said the union members have decided “to oppose the continuation of the illegal lockout by insisting on undertaking" and demanded “settlement of workload norms" as well as full wages during the lockout period. In addition, they demanded “that the management should withdraw suspension of workers and withdraw charge sheets and punishment orders issued during this period".

Toyota Kirloskar first locked out the factory after workers protested the suspension of a union member on 10 November. The Karnataka labour department held reconciliation meetings and ordered workers to resume work from 19 November. However, four days later, the automaker extended the lockout citing “lack of congenial and safe atmosphere" at the plant.

Workers have been protesting outside the premises since the first lockout.

Toyota Kirloskar has two plants in Bidadi, about 35km from Bengaluru, with a combined annual capacity of 310,000 vehicles.

The labour unrest at Toyota Kirloskar was followed by a violent incident of worker unrest at the production facility of Wistron on 12 December, which manufactures iPhones for Apple in Kolar district. The two incidents lent to arguments on how changes to labour and industries laws by the Centre have fuelled friction between workers and managements across the country since the covid-19 outbreak.

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