Toyota Kirloskar Motors workers allege they are not being let in

Days after the Labour Department prohibited both a lockout and a sit-in strike, an impasse continues at two Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) plants in Bidadi. Nearly 3,500 employees participated in a sit-in protest outside the plants on Saturday, the twelfth day of the protest that started on November 9.

The management and the workers blame each other for the impasse. Workers allege they are not being let in, essentially continuing an illegal lockout, while the management has claimed they have lifted the lockout, but the workers have continued their strike.

‘Workers stopped from rejoining’

Gangadhar, joint secretary of Toyota Kirloskar Motors Employees’ Union, said workers were ready to rejoin work after the government prohibited a strike and the lockout.

“On Friday and Saturday, the management stopped workers from joining the shift on the ground that they were late. However, there has been a settlement in the factory to allow for a delay, given the factory premises is on the outskirts of the city,” he said, arguing that this forced workers to continue their strike.

Moreover, he said, though the State government had prohibited a lockout, they had given no relief to the employees. “It is wrongly being portrayed that the strike is over the suspension of an office-bearer of the union. Post-lockdown, the management decided to increase productivity and stipulated we finish a process on the production line that took three minutes earlier in two-and-a-half minutes. This was overworking us, which we protested against,” Mr. Gangadhar said.

The union’s secretary, Umesh, was suspended when he questioned this, which precipitated the strike, the protesting employees said. The management has suspended 40 employees, mostly office-bearers of the union, they claim.

“There has neither been any relief on the working conditions, nor over the unfair suspension of employees who fought for rights of others,” Mr. Gangadhar said.

‘Some workers taking additional burden’

In a statement on Saturday, the TKM management said they had withdrawn the lockout effective November 19.

“However, only few team members have reported to work as on date, as per their shift schedule. A majority of the team members are continuing their illegal strike. Moreover, a few members are instigating the illegal strike and disrespecting other members who want to return to work or those who are already working and taking on additional burden caused by the strike,” according to the statement.

“TKM would like to find a quick resolution to this ongoing situation through mutual trust and respect, and with thorough communication with the members,” it said adding the management intends to initiate necessary actions in accordance with the law.

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