The prolonged workers strike at the Toyota Kirloskar's manufacturing plant in Bidadi in Karnataka is being 'closely watched' by the Japanese consulate in Bengaluru.
The Consul General of Japan Akiko Sugita has held discussions with Karnataka state government officials on the matter, CNBC TV 18 has learned.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor is a subsidiary of the Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation.
Consul General Sugita met Karnataka Principal Secretary Gaurav Gupta on December 1, and while the meeting had a broader agenda of discussing investment opportunities in the state, the issue of the ongoing workers strike at Toyota Kirloskar Motor plant in Bidadi was among the issues discussed.
In an emailed response to queries, the Japan Consul General told CNBC TV 18 that the consulate was ‘closely watching’ the developments at the automaker’s plant and was hoping for a ‘peaceful resolution’/
“We discussed many issues of common interest with Principal Secretary Gaurav Gupta, and one of them was the current situation of the workers strike at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Plant in Karnataka,” the consul general said.
“We exchanged our views about the current situation at the TKM Plant and told Mr Gupta that we were closely watching the development of the situation. We have no official statement from the Government of Japan, but the Consulate General of Japan in Bengaluru has been closely watching the development of the situation at the TKM Plant and hope that a peaceful resolution will be found through active dialogue among the stakeholders as soon as possible,” she added.
Principal secretary Gaurav Gupta told CNBC TV 18 that the Japanese consulate is ‘aware’ of the issue, and said that ‘all topics of interest’ were discussed with the Japan Consul General.
The consulate meeting was held just a few days before the Toyota Kirloskar management, led by vice chairman Vikram Kirloskar, had met chief minister BS Yediyurappa on December 7 on the matter.
The Karnataka CM had instructed officials, including the labour department as well as the chief secretary, to resolve the issue with the striking workers soon.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor told CNBC TV 18 that the Japanese parent company has been updated about the situation at the Bidadi plant.
“Toward solving the issue with the safety of all of the company’s stakeholders including its employees in mind, TKM has informed Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan. However this is a local matter that should be settled between the relevant stakeholders in the market,” the company said.
The company resumed production on Dec 4 with its supervisory staff and workmen who have signed an undertaking to ensure they will not disrupt operations.
This marks the second attempt at the resumption of the Bidadi plant following a worker strike. A lock-out at the factory was first declared on November 10, as workers protested the suspension of some employees by the company. The automaker has so far placed 60 members under suspension for misconduct and violation of company rules.
Following instructions of the state government to the workers to return, the automaker withdrew the lock-out on November 19.
However, in just a matter of a few days, the company re-instituted the lock-out at its two plants in Bidadi on November 23.
Toyota had in a statement said that a minimum workforce of 90 percent was required in each shift and that it was 'not viable' to carry out manufacturing activity with a low workforce.
“During the meeting with the CM, the TKM management apprised the Chief Minister about the current labour situation and sought the government's intervention to support TKM resolve the prolonged unrest. The meeting concluded with the Honourable dignitaries of the Government expressing full support in resolving the matter. This assurance from the Government becomes extremely important for the plant to run viable operations, ensure the safety of TKM’s employees, and be able to serve our customers' demands,” the company said.