Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) on Saturday terminated 45 of its workers for “proven misconduct” following an inquiry. Employees’ union, however, said the company had “wiped out” its entire elected leadership in order to “paralyse it or eliminate it”.
“With the inquiries completed, the management has decided to terminate 45 workmen, who had indulged in serious acts of misconduct, and remaining members are taken back to work with minor disciplinary actions,” said the company in response to a query from The Hindu.
Operations of the Japanese auto major’s Bidadi unit in Karnataka were affected by a series of lockouts, prolonged strikes, and work disruptions after its employees protested the suspension of a union member, and later allegedly resorted to destructive behaviour on the factory premises in November last year.
TKM said this strike was prolonged by the union for four months despite the State government banning it. During this period, 66 employees indulged in serious misconduct such as threatening, damaging company property, defamation and assault. Consequently, they were kept on ‘Suspension Pending Enquiry’. Later, inquiries were conducted in a “fair and transparent manner” by a third party, and the suspended members were given ample opportunity to defend their cases, said the company.
However, employee union representatives said the inquiry was conducted online for the convenience of the management and many accused employees, witnesses and defendants could not participate in the process due to network issues and other inconveniences.
“Only an offline inquiry is effective in many counts such as clarity, participation and reading the demeanour of the people involved. When TKM can call all employees to work why did the company insist on conducting this inquiry online?” asked an office-bearer of the union.
“The work termination of our members will directly affect them, their families and dependents. It will also adversely impact the overall morale of all workers at TKM Bidadi,” said the representative, alleging that the company had also “committed a series of violations punishable under the ID Act”.
However, TKM said it was committed to continuing to strengthen and “make efforts to build mutual trust and respect with its employees and spread happiness to their families and society at large.”
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