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Toyota vigil ends, lockout begins

Bangalore, Jan. 8: Around 1,500 agitating employees of Toyota Kirloskar Motors who had locked themselves in the plant demanding reinstatement of three dismissed colleagues, walked out peacefully after the company declared an indefinite lockout today.

An eerie silence descended on the plant this morning as the employees sat silently in groups.

They had been keeping vigil throughout the night even as the police force at the plant increased in strength.

They had not had a meal for the last 24 hours.

A vehicle carrying food packets and water for employees was turned away by security personnel. The power and water supply to the plant had been cut and the canteen supplies had also exhausted. By noon, around a dozen employees had to be hospitalised and the union members, who were inside the plant, called an urgent meeting.

For the Toyota Kirloskar authorities, it was only a matter of time before the workers’ will power would wilt.

Finally, the workers marched out peacefully this evening after Toyota Kirloskar declared an indefinite lockout, the automobile company said.

A company spokesperson said the workers had resorted to an illegal strike from Friday and Toyota Kirloskar had decided to declare an indefinite lockout till all the problems were solved.

He alleged that the union members inside had obstructed the movement of manufactured vehicles, assaulted employees, damaged company property and also instigated workmen who were willing to work.

The union members denied the allegations and wanted the state government to intervene.

Production has come to a standstill at the unit in the Bidadi industrial estate, 35 km from the Karnataka capital, where Prado, Innova, Corolla and Camry cars are made.

The striking workers had threatened to blow up two gas pellets at the unit if police were sent in.

Trouble began in 2004 when 15 employees were served suspension orders after they allegedly misbehaved and manhandled supervisors.

The company ordered an independent inquiry, which found three of the employees guilty and recommended their dismissal, while one person was reinstated.

The unions have questioned why the inquiry took almost two years when it should have been completed within three months.

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