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Toyota workers union asks mgmt to lift lockout

Two days after a lockout was declared by the management at the two car manufacturing units of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, at the suburb of Bidadi, the workers union indicted a softening of its stand.

The Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union has appealed for an immediate lifting of the lockout immediately and resumption of production. However, it has said, negotiations must also begin right away, as the stand on pay hasn’t changed.

"We are ready to return to work and request the management to withdraw the lockout immediately. We can negotiate mutually on our charter of demands once the factory is restarted," said Prasanna Kumar, the union president.

He said the workers had not been creating any trouble on the shop floor. "We are asking for the salary increase from 2013 and we are discussing with them. We never went slow on the production. It was the management which reduced the production because the sales of the products were less. They also reduced the working time," he said.

The management declared a lockout on Sunday, saying the safety of equipment and staff was in danger. Workers at both units had been observing a ‘go-slow’ agitation for the previous 25 days; as a result, said the management, there had been a production loss of 2,000 cars.

Pay revision for 4,500 permanent Grade-8 employees was due since April 2013. In their charter of demands, the union demanded a monthly rise of Rs 8,000; the management offered Rs 2,400. After a series of negotiations brokered by the labour commissioner, the management raised its offer to Rs 3,050 a month; the union had come down to Rs 4,000 a month.

State labour minister Parameshwar Naik has called for a meeting on Tuesday between the two sides.

Meanwhile, the state government on Tuesday stepped in to help resolve the imbroglio, saying it was working for a fair settlement. "The government is trying to reach a fair settlement between company management and workers' union. The deputy labour commissioner will take a decision. We hope both plants will resume production soon," Labour Minister Parameshwar Nayak said.

Prasanna Kumar said a joint meeting with the management could not place on Tuesday and the union members would meet the deputy labour commissioner on Wednesday to sort out the problem.

“We have had a meeting with only the minister... I cannot talk about any solution but we want the workers to get back to work. We produce 570 cars every day and that is being affected,” said Shekhar Viswanathan, vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar.