Bangalore, April 3 :
Agitating workers of auto maker Toyota India resorted to an indefinite fast as a stand-off with the company’s management continued 10 days after a week-long lockout was lifted March 24.
“As the management is not ready to consider our demand that it should not insist on signing a conduct letter to resume work, about 20 employees are on an indefinite fast,” Toyota Kirloskar Motor Employees’ Union president Prasanna Kumar told IANS Thursday.
About 4,000 workers are on a sit-in demonstration from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the factory gate.
A defiant management is operating the factory at Bidadi, about 30 km from here, in a single shift with supervisors, team leaders, apprentices, trainees and contract labour.
As a reult, production has sharply declined due to the prolonged strike and its capacity utilisation has been reduced to 120 cars a day as against 545 a day earlier.
“We have no alternative but to continue with our peaceful strike in support of our demands, as the management is unwilling to relax its condition for an undertaking that we will not insist on our rights,” Kumar said.
Eight rounds of tripartite talks among the management, union leaders and state labour officials over demands, including wage revision for fiscal 2013-14, led to lockout March 16.
An intervention by state Labour Minister Parameshwar Naik March 19 led to lifting of lockout but not return of employees to work, as 4,200 of the total 6,400 employees are union members and are on strike since March 24.
“Our other main demands are withdraw suspension of 30 workers and resumption of wage talks, as we have agreed for Rs.4,000 hike per month instead of Rs.8,000 earlier,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, the management has sent letters to parents and guardians of striking employees to persuade them to resume work and follow discipline.
“As a last resort, we have launched indefinite fast to draw the state government’s attention to our plight and seek its intervention to end the impasse,” Kumar added.
The 16-year-old joint venture rolls out a range of models, including Innova multi-utility vehicle, Camry sedan, Prius hybrid, Corolla Altis, Etios, Prado and Land Cruiser, with some of them imported as completely built units.
This is the second time lockout was declared after 2006 over dismissal and suspension of some employees then.