Toyota said its sale had increased in the month of January.
Toyota said its sale had increased in the month of January.

Toyota strike: Siddaramaiah backs workers, to raise issue in assembly

  • The strike had led to a short-term impact on the production and delivery of company brand vehicles during the peak of India's festive season.
By Sharan Poovanna | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON JAN 31, 2021 04:05 PM IST

Former Karnataka chief minister and leader of the opposition in the assembly, Siddaramaiah on Sunday hit out at the BJP led state government for not being able to resolve the deadlock between workers and management of Toyota Kirloskar Motors Pvt Ltd (TKM).

"It has been 3 months since the protest was started by the employees of Toyota unit in Bidadi. State govt should have resolved it by now. When the labour minister could not solve it, at least @CMofKarnataka should have called for a meeting," Siddaramaiah said in a five-part post on Twitter.

Siddaramaiah met the protesting workers on Sunday who continue to strike against the management of the Japanese car-maker for nearly three months now.

"Siddaramaiah will take up the Toyota issue in the assembly session on Monday," said one person aware of the developments.

Despite the withdrawal of the lock out call on January 12, union workers have refused to return to the shop floor due to a safety and productivity declaration requirement by the company management.

The lockout has been in place since November 10 last year after workers protested the suspension of a union member.

The strike had led to a short-term impact on the production and delivery of company brand vehicles during the peak of India's festive season.

Workers allege high-handed behaviour by the management and an attempt to impose a Japanese work culture on the staff.

"It is our State that has given land, water & electricity to Japan's Toyota company to start their manufacturing facility. It is wrong to impose Japan's labour laws on the employees in our State," Siddaramaiah posted on Twitter.

"We don't have any objection if a foreign company wants to invest and start its manufacturing facility. But it has to follow the laws of our land & treat its employees in a fair manner," he added.

The resolution of the crisis will determine the company's future investments, expansion and other plans, according to a senior management personnel.

The company said that over 1200 workers have returned to the shop floor. Union members said that only 200-300 workers have returned while the majority of them remain on strike. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

"Siddaramaiah has assured to take up the matter with the government. The management refuses to talk to us and continues to demand an undertaking which is illegal and hasn't been mandated by the labour department," Pradeep Kumar, vice president of the workers union said on Sunday.

Despite the strike, TKM on Sunday said it sold a total of 11,126 units in the month of January 2021, registering a growth of 92% in domestic sales, as against the same period last year.

The company had announced a lockout after workers protested the suspension of a union member on November 10. The Karnataka labour department held reconciliation meetings and ordered workers to return to their shifts from November 19. The company extended the lockout four days later citing “lack of congenial and safe atmosphere" at the plant.

TKM has two plants spread across 432 acres in Bidadi, about 35 km from Bengaluru, with a combined capacity of 310,000 units per year.

The labour unrest at TKM was followed by an incident of violence on December 12 at Wistron, manufacturer of iPhones for Apple in Kolar district.

The violence at Wistron and prolonged protests at TKM, the government feared, would potentially dent the state--and India's—investor-friendly image globally.

Wistron is yet to reopen its plant as its parent company in Taiwan is working with local stakeholders to resume production, people aware of the developments said.

The state government has held multiple rounds of meetings with Wistron post the incident.

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