Toyota shuts Karnataka plant after staff strike since Nov 9

The striking employees alleged that the workers are made to work at a faster pace than before and some are unable to cope with the pressure

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Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM), a unit of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp., declared an indefinite lockout of its manufacturing unit at Bidadi, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, after nearly 1,200 workers went on a sit-in strike protesting against the suspension of one of its employees.

The striking employees alleged that the workers are made to work at a faster pace than before and some are unable to cope with the pressure. But the company said they terminated the employee on disciplinary grounds and it had nothing to do with the workload of employees.

The lockout comes at a time when the company witnessed an encouraging revival in sales in October, after a prolonged slump since March. The ongoing strike will disrupt the production for the current month.

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The company took extreme measures after the suspended employee and the Workers’ Union President entered the production floor and tried to disrupt the production operations. Toyota deemed it unlawful and said that created a hostile environment at the manufacturing facility.

 “At present, the TKM Union has resorted to an  illegal sit-in strike and those team members are unlawfully staying in the company premises, compromising the COVID-19 guidelines. Due to the current volatile atmosphere and to protect the safety of employees, Toyota Kirloskar Motor is forced to declare a ‘lock-out’ until further notice. Communication and dialogue with relevant stakeholders is ongoing to try to resolve the issue,” the company said in a statement.

 The suspended employee (Umesh Gowda Alur) declined to comment when contacted by The Federal.

The company further noted that despite efforts to maintain a cordial working environment, one of the employees, who has a record of repititive misconduct, was again involved in breach of discipline in violation of service policy of the company. Accordingly, he has been placed under suspension pending enquiry.

“Even in the current challenging business conditions due to COVID-19 pandemic, TKM has been relentlessly working to sustain plant operations and protect the interest of our employees, ” the company said.

TKM has two plants spread over 432 acres in Bidadi, where it manufactures flagship cars like Innova, Fortuner, Altis, Etios and Camry, among other vehicles, with an installed capacity to produce 310,000 vehicles a year.

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