Bangalore, March 25 IANS | 9 months ago

Toyota India has hired about 1,000 people on contract to resume production as a stand-off with its trade union continued Tuesday over its employees not signing an undertaking for good conduct before resuming duty.

"As employees are not joining duty even after the eight-day lockout was lifted early Monday, we have taken about 1,000 people on contract to resume production," a company official told IANS Tuesday, citing a statement issued earlier.

The beleaguered company has also deployed about 2,000 apprentices and officers to roll out as many cars though it has an installed production capacity of 750 cars per day in the twin plants at Bidadi industrial township, about 30 km from here.

"We will keep our shifts running and the plants will be open for team members (workers) to join duty on condition that they sign the good conduct undertaking," the official said.

The company has also sought the state's intervention to resolve the labour unrest a day after the union appealed to state Labour Minister Parameshwar Naik to protect their employees' interest and welfare.

"We are not signing the undertaking because it falsely implicates some employees being responsible for threatening assembly line supervisors and slowing down production resulting in the lockout," union president Prasanna Kumar told IANS.

Referring to the suspension of about 30 employees for misconduct and posing threat to management personnel and plant machinery, Kumar said instead of issuing chargesheet or taking disciplinary action against them, the company unilaterally declared lockout without the 14-day prior notice as per labour laws.

"Instead of resolving the issue amicably, the management is not only misusing apprentices to work, but also hired contract labourers to do our job, which is skilled and has stringent processes to ensure quality in compliance with the company's global production standards," Kumar observed.

Though the company operates in two shifts on normal days with about 2,500-3000 per shift, it is able to manage single shift with apprentices and contract labourers, using about one-third of the installed production capacity.

"By using outside labour and semi-skilled apprentices, management wants to show it can run the plants without us, but is risking safety and compromising on quality in the process," Kumar pointed out.

Management and union had, however, agreed to adjudicate the contentious wage hike demand till normalcy was restored though the latter had agreed to accept Rs.4,000 per month per employee for this fiscal (2013-14) as in previous fiscal (2012-13).

Of the 6,400 employees, about 4,000 of them are union members and the remaining (2,400) on probation in both the factories.

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.

This is the second time lockout was declared after 2006 over dismissal and suspension of some employees then.

Toyota holds 89 percent equity in the joint venture with the remaining 11 percent by the Pune-based Kirloskar group.

(Posted on 25-03-2014)

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