Toyota denies it is using apprentices to run plant as union files complaint

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore/New Delhi | Updated: Mar 27 2014, 18:35pm hrs
Toyota Motor CorporationToyota Motor has said plant operations are being run on a limited scale with the help of non-unionised team members.
THE dispute between Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) and the employees' union continued into its third day on Wednesday, even as the union made a representation to the Apprenticeship Board alleging the company was violating rules by employing apprentices to run its plants. Toyota had, a day earlier, responded to the allegation saying it was untrue and that plant operations were being run on a limited scale with the help of non-unionised team members, mostly supervisors and engineers. * Check car prices: All Models

The standoff is expected to have caused the company a production loss of around 4,000 vehicles.

At least 3,000 workers had assembled at the labour commissioner's office here while the union made the complaint, Satish R, general secretary of the TKM Employees Union, told FE. He added that the union has received a copy of the report, referring the dispute to the government for a decision from the labour commissioner's office.


A Toyota official claimed that a few union members were turning up for work at the carmaker's two plants at Bidadi but the union countered that saying that only one or two of its members had gone in on Monday, when the lockout was lifted, and none since. The turnout should get better, or it is just a matter of time till the government comes forward, the Toyota official said, adding the conciliation process was over as the company had made its final offer on the wage negotiation.

The government can refer the dispute for adjudication although it is not known yet as to what course of action it will take. A labour department official confirmed that the dispute had been referred to the government.

We will wait for some time. We are hoping the government will intervene, Satish said. The union claims its 4,200 members have not been allowed to join work as they refused to sign a good conduct undertaking that Toyota has insisted upon as a condition for lifting the eight-day lockout.

Toyota had declared a lockout on March 16 on the grounds that a few employees were disrupting production after protracted wage negotiations between the management and the union proved inconclusive. The lock-out was lifted on March 24 after meetings were held at the labour commissioner's office.

According to Toyota, the company's two plants have a total of 4,500 Grade 8 employees who are part of a union and 400 contract workers. While the average gross monthly take-home salary is R25,500, the union had demanded an increment of R8,000. It later scaled down the demand to R4,000, which was on similar lines as the increment given during the previous fiscal, but the company has been firm on its final offer of R3,050, citing a challenging business environment.

The union's objection to the good conduct undertaking is that it requires them to agree to the reasons cited including delay tactics and threatening of supervisors for issuing the lockout notice on March 16. The union alleges that the lockout was declared by the management to divert the focus from the main issue of wage negotiations. Somebody should respond. How long can they run the company like this, keeping permanent workers outside Our laws do not allow this, said Satish.

Its absolutely untrue that Toyota is running its plants using 1,000 contract workers and 2,000 apprentices. We have started limited plant operations with the help of non unionised team members, of whom majority are supervisors and engineers, Toyota had said on Tuesday.

The company's domestic sales in the 11 months of the fiscal between April 2013 and February 2014 have declined 17.42% to 1.2 lakh vehicles against the year-ago period, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

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