Wage disputes fuel unrest at auto companies

  • Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times, New
  • Updated: Mar 21, 2014 03:02 IST

Toyota Kirloskar Motor lifted the lockout at its two factories in Karnataka on Thursday, but the underlying reasons for the industrial unrest continues to fester across the auto industry.

Wage negotiations have become a thorny issue between workers and companies. With the age profile of workers on the shop floor diminishing, aspirations have grown at a time when companies, reeling under a decline in businesses, are hard pressed for cash.

At Toyota, for instance, the workers were demanding a monthly hike of Rs. 4,000, while the company offered a hike of Rs. 3,050 per month. That gap was substantial.

“The Union is unable to understand the difficulties faced by the company,” Shekar Viswanathan, vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd, had said earlier.

It is a scenario that most of Toyota’s rivals, from Maruti, Hyundai, Mahindra to Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj, have faced in recent times. While the immediate trigger for any strike varies from regularisation of services to recognition of an independent union, wage negotitation always forms the crux of the problem.

“The age profile of workers has come down over the years,” said Pradeep Saxena, vice-president, TNS Automotive.

“Their aspirations are different from the generation gone by. Automotive companies tend to be bureaucratic and are at times unable to understand this shift in psyche,” he added.

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