Toyota Kirloskar Motors still grappling with labour issues

The TKM Bidadi plant remains locked out despite numerous efforts to resolve the industrial dispute

The TKM Bidadi plant remains locked out despite numerous efforts to resolve the industrial dispute

Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) who announced a lockout at their two manufacturing plants at Bidadi, on the outskirts of Bangalore are still struggling to grapple with labour unrest. Despite the labour department intervening in order to mediate the dispute between management & the Toyota Kirloskar Workers Union.  Toyota has a 89% stake in the Indian entity, Toyota Kirloskar Motors and the management had been in negotiations with the workers union over the last 10 months with regard to wage increments & additional benefits. At the first hint of organised labour unrest, TKM promptly declared a lockout at both manufacturing units on 16th March by issuing notice of the same to all concerned.

Both aggrieved parties also approached the state labour department & met with the labour minister of state hoping for a solution to the impasse that they had arrived at. The union had made a demand of an average wage increase of INR 4,000 per month in addition to certain other benefits. However since the management had offered a significantly lower increment amount, there was a general sense of disgruntlement among the workers. The last offer made by TKM management was an average wage increase of INR 3,050 per month and that too following a recommendation by the state labour department. If management claims are to be believed, a group of workers were resorting to guerrilla tactics by deliberate slowdowns & stoppages to the production line & issuing threats to supervisors in addition to other disruptive measures to affect business. As a result TKM management had no option but to issue a notice of lockout.

TKM has issued a statement to the effect that the TKM management representatives will be meeting with the Deputy Labour Commissioner to arrive at a solution to this issue. The two affected plants employ over 6,400 human resources and have a combined installed capacity of over 3,10,000 units per annum. Toyota has already been in the news more than they would want to be with global quality issues and product recalls. Add in declining sales due to sluggish demand in the market, and now this issue and you have the makings of a serious headache for Toyota in India.

However Toyota is not the only automaker reeling under the attack of politically motivated militant unions making their presence felt in the manufacturing sector. There have been similar episodes faced earlier by manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki Ltd., Bajaj Auto Limited, Pricol, Cummins India Ltd etc. to name just a few. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1948 which governs the management & solution of employer-employee disputes has been an oft used and at times abused piece of legislation in addition to other legal acts already in existence. The Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce has already raised a red flag over worsening industrial relations in Karnataka and have urged the state and central governments to take a more proactive approach to improving relations & swifter dispute resolution.

Team AutoColumn also urges the various state governments & the central government to modernise our heavily outdated legal system to bring it more in line with the current scenario. Remember, you read it right here on AutoColumn.

Image courtesy: Business Today

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