The factory workers at the Bidadi unit of Toyota Kirloskar Private Limited, located on the outskirts of Bengaluru, announced that they will continue their ongoing strike as their concerns over increased workload, among others, remain unaddressed. At a press conference in Bengaluru on Thursday, the Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees Union (TKMEU) said that the Karnataka governmentâ€™s intervention failed to acknowledge the grievances faced by the workers. The factory has been in a lockout since November 10 after the treasurer of TKMEU was suspended for allegedly questioning the management.
According to the union, the current protest stems from the sudden decision by the management to increase the workload without any scientific study, consultation or discussion with the union. The management had communicated with the workers that they will have to assemble 1,00,000 cars per year from 80,000 cars per year. The union said that days before the new system was to be put in a place, the management started treating the workers inhumanly without providing enough time to drink water, use the washroom and slashing pay citing lost productivity.
The union in their statement said that when this was questioned by the treasurer of the TKMEU, he immediately got suspended and when workers protested this during the break, 40 more were placed under suspension. Subsequently, a lockout was declared the next day though there was no strike.
The union further alleged that on November 18, when the government issued a notification prohibiting continuance of strike and the lockout, the employees were ready to report to work but the management did not allow them, citing â€śreporting lateâ€ť. They alleged that the management has been insisting workers to sign an undertaking to commit to giving the required production and â€śmaintain disciplineâ€ť both inside and outside the factory premises. This, they said, resulted in the present stalemate.
The union said that asking for an undertaking even after the government banned the lockout, indicated the disregard of the management towards the government as well as the incapability of the government.
â€śOnce the government asked us to report for work, we did. Now if they are asking for an undertaking like this, it only means that they are continuing the lockout, without calling it one. This is completely illegal but the government has done nothing about it,â€ť said Basavaraj Havaldar, a TKMEU office bearer.
The Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU), which is a joint body of several trade unions, also supported the Bidadi unit workers and threatened to expand the strike to other factories in the area and even in parts of Bengaluru, if the government doesnâ€™t take immediate action against the management.
â€śUnlike other times, where we see economic demands in strikes, this strike is for ethical, moral and humanitarian grounds. We are here to express that the entire working class of Karnataka stands with these workers of TKMEU and support their cause,â€ť said KV Bhat, State Convenor of JCTU and Vice President of AITUC Karnataka.