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The state government's labour department is holding talks with employee representatives and the management to end the lockout at Tata Marcopolo's vehicle factory at Dharwad, biggest industrial unit in north Karnataka.

The unit, a joint venture of India's largest automobile maker, Tata Motors, and Marcopolo of Brazil, which  produces buses and small trucks, has been shut since February 6.

The management had said it feared damage to property due to striking workers. “Conciliation is the only way to go. It will be resolved with mutual agreement," said the government's additional chief secretary (labour), P B Ramamurthy.

Krantikari Kamgar Union, officially termed an "external union", with the older one which is recognised by the management opposing the strike, has sought reinstatement of workers dismissed earlier on disciplinary issues. The union held a massive rally in Hubbali-Dharwad last month, seeking local support. Tata Marcopolo Employees Union is the official union and not for the strike.

The state, Ramamurthy said, had resolved disputes with workers union in Toyota and Bosch factories in the past 18 months through talks. “The self-proclaimed office bearers of the Krantikari Kamgar Union, an outfit not recognised by the company on technical and legal grounds, insisted on participating and eventually prevented any meaningful dialogue taking place,” Tata Motors said.

We have reiterated our commitment to our operations in Dharwad, as well as to the well-being and safety of our employees," Tata Motors stated. "We also remain committed to finding a long-term and fair solution to the current situation, without any compromise on discipline, safety, productivity and quality."

The company said the government and administration officials were supportive of its concerns and were helping to resolve the issue. "We remain hopeful that a solution may be found soon, that will allow us to go back to production," it said.