After nearly two months of lock-out, Toyota Kirloskar Motor has resumed operations at its Bidadi plant located in Karnataka with over 1,200 employees on board, said the Japanese carmaker on Tuesday. These employees had expressed their intention to work with discipline, through a simple undertaking of good behaviour, it added.
The 432-acre plant with two facilities was operational with minimum staff but with the lockdown being lifted, it will restart two shifts at the campus, said a company spokesperson. The company had been operating with skeleton staff, rolling out less than 100 units a day, compared to the customary 450-500 units a day, after the lockout was announced.
Of the total 6,000 staff at Bidadi plant, nearly 3,500 are part of the Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Employees Union. A spokesperson of the TKM Employee Union claimed that only 300 employees of the 3,500 strong union have signed the undertaking, while the remaining employees will continue to protest.
“The unilateral increase of the workload was behind the workmen's protest, but workers were not on strike. Our attempts to invite the attention to this issue were ignored by the management,” alleged Gangadhar M N, joint secretary, TKM Employees Union.
The suspension, pending enquiry, of 66 unionised employees for serious misconduct will continue and domestic enquiries will be conducted in line with the principles of natural justice, according to the company.
The first phase of the lockout started on November 10 on allegations of increased workload. Though the state labour department ordered workers to call off their strike and resume operations on November 19, less 10 per cent returned to work according to the company. Hence it was forced to extend its lockdown four days later as the situation was “volatile”. The plant manufactures variants such as Innova and Fortuner and has two units with an annual production capacity of up to 310,000 vehicles.
“The safety and well-being of all our stakeholders, and especially our employees, being of utmost importance to us, we would like to emphasise 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” said TKM.