The carmaker's 4,200-strong employee union is currently on an indefinite hunger strike, demanding action from the Karnataka government on its complaints and asking for its members to be allowed to join work without having to sign good conduct undertakings. Toyota, however, is firm on the undertakings to ensure discipline on the shop floor, saying it had declared a lockout on March 16 after productivity levels at its plants had dropped and supervisors felt threatened.
The Japanese carmaker on Friday said nearly 300 union workers had reported back to work after a signing the good conduct undertaking since the company lifted the lock-out on March 24. Asked how long the company would be able to sustain operations at the current levels, Shekar Viswanathan, vice-chairman, TKM, told reporters: I will want to sustain it as long as it takes to bring discipline on the shop floor. That's our only goal. Anything else can be negotiated, there is time for that. We can talk and discuss.
Viswanathan said the company has been briefing the Karnataka labour department on the situation. We have briefed them on every aspect of the evolving labour situation. They are also trying to find a way around this impasse. But no solution has as yet emerged, said Viswanathan.
We have had 15 years of successful operations. Yes, we have had our share of industrial strikes, but we have been able to sit across the table and resolve the problem. This time it seems to be a bit intractable.
Toyota said it was trying to manage the situation on the dealer front, adding that the waiting period for its vehicles has gone up to 30-45 days from 20-25 days previously. However, the May launch of its new model Etios Cross is on track, it said.
Toyota rejected the union's allegations that it was violating rules regarding the employment of contract workers and apprentices.