Bangalore, March 17: Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union Monday termed the lockout in the twin plants declared by management illegal, as it was unilateral and without the mandatory notice.
“Though we have been negotiating for wage hike and other demands with management over the last 10 months, the company unilaterally declared lockout late Sunday without the 14-day notice period to us,” union president Prasanna Kumar told IANS here.
In a statement from Tokyo in Japan, the world’s biggest automaker, however, said production in its two India auto assembly plants were suspended due to threats against management as efforts to reach a labour contract failed.
The Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd plants are located in the Bidadi industrial township, about 30km from Bangalore.
The two plants produce about 310,000 units annually.
“Lockout is illegal as management did not give the mandatory 14-day notice to employees and the state labour office,” Kumar said.
Of the 6,400 blue collar employees working in both the plants, 4,400 are permanent and 2,000 are on contract.
The 16-year-old joint venture rolls out a range of models, including Innova multi-utility vehicle, Camry sedan, Prius hybrid, Corolla Altis, Etios, Prado and Land Cruiser, with some of them imported as completely built units.
“Though management has offered Rs.3,000 per employee for this fiscal (2013-14) as against our demand for Rs.8,000 due to overall increase in cost of living and increasing work load, we are open to negotiate for a mutual sum,” Kumar said.
The state labour office is mediating between the union and management for a mutual agreement to lift the lockout at the earliest.
“One of the reasons for the lockout could be to reduce production and lower inventory, which has been piling up due to declining sale of vehicles rolled out of the plants,” Kumar hinted.
The management gave Rs.4,000 increase per employee for the previous fiscal (2012-13), as wages are negotiated every year.
The company declined to comment on the charges made by the union, saying negotiations were on with it in through the state labour office.
This is the second time lockout was declared after 2006 over dismissal and suspension of some employees then.
Additional Labour Commissioner Jinkalappa was not available for response.
“Under the instigation of the union, certain sections of the employees have resorted to deliberate stoppages of the production line, abuse and threatening of supervisors, disrupting business for the past 25 days,” the company said in the statement.
The company also maintained that due to unlawful activities by some of its employees, it was left with no option but to declare lockout of the twin plants to ensure safety of workers and management personnel.
“As bipartite agreement was not reached, the labour department conducted seven tripartite meetings to reach a settlement. The conciliation efforts have not yet resulted in an agreement,” the statement added.
Toyota holds 89 percent equity in the joint venture with the remaining 11 percent by the Pune-based Kirloskar group.