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Twist to Toyota tension

Bangalore, March 24: Workers at Toyota’s two plants in Bidadi today refused to sign a good conduct undertaking before resuming work after the lifting of a lock-out.

Almost all the 4,200 workers, affected by the lock-out, had turned up at the factory gates but were told it was mandatory to sign the undertaking before joining work.

Meanwhile, the company said, “We will keep our shifts running and the plants will be open for team members to join duty on the condition that they would sign the simple good conduct undertaking.”

“The company will welcome any steps that the Karnataka government can take to resolve the matter at the earliest,” it added.

At a general body meeting on Saturday, the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union (TKMEU) had rejected the undertaking that would place them directly under the control of the supervisors.

“Our decision not to sign any such undertaking is a known fact. So I can see this insistence by the management only as mischief to prolong the illegal lockout and put pressure on the workers,” TKMEU general secretary Sateesh R. told The Telegraph today.

The TKMEU has submitted a memorandum to Karnataka chief minister P. C. Siddaramiah urging his intervention. A letter was also sent to the state labour department seeking an end to the tussle.

“Once we sign the undertaking we will have to do whatever the supervisor asks us to do. It would mean even cleaning the toilets if he orders so,” Sateesh said.

“As it is, things are quite difficult in the factory as supervisors see us as their enemies. There are several cases of victimisation, which we have already reported to the labour department during our negotiations to lift the lockout,” he added.

The union had also sought the withdrawal of the suspension order on some employees. Responding to this demand, the company said they must apologise first. “Discipline is required when you are in an industrial environment with a large number of workers. They need to obey rules. The words compromise and discipline don’t go together,” Toyota vice-chairman (external affairs) Shekar Viswanathan said.

 
 
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