Labour unrest forces Tata Marcopolo to declare lockout

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Dharwad (Karnataka), Feb 9 (IANS) With about 2,500 workers remaining adamant on returning to work only with a wage hike, Tata Marcopolo Motors Ltd has declared lock out at its plant here to minimize further losses.

“The management was forced to declare lockout as the workers resorted to flash strike on January 31 without the mandatory 14-day notice to us or the state labour office here and did not return to work till February 6,” Karnataka Employers’ Association president B.C. Prabhakar told IANS on Tuesday.

The joint venture was set up in 2008 by Tata Motors Ltd and Marcopolo S.A. of Brazil to roll out about 15,000 inter-state and inter-city luxury buses per annum from the plant in this city, about 430km from Bengaluru.

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“The lockout will continue till workers assure the management that they would restore normalcy and maintain discipline, as the company has lost about 10 days of production,” said Prabhakar.

Blaming outsiders for instigating the workforce to fulfill their own agenda, he said slowdown in production and dilatory tactics on the shop floor severely affected the operations.

“Intervention by the district administration, including the labour office has not resolved the impasse, affecting industrial ties in the area,” Prabhakar said.

The management has also claimed that it had been giving hike and bonus almost every year despite incurring losses for various reasons.

“We have been paying bonus since commercial production and sale of products began in 2008-09 though no such provision in the Payment Bonus Act for greenfield ventures,” Prabhakar said.

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The company also increased salary every year since 2010 by Rs.1,000 per month in 2010, Rs.2,334 in 2011, Rs.2,000 in 2012, Rs.1,500 in 2013 and Rs.1,500 in 2014.

“We also declared statutory bonus of Rs.3,500 and a special payment of Rs.3,000 per worker despite posting losses and hoped the workers will not resort to strike,” Prabhakar added.

The management and the workers’ association declined to comment as their talks through the labour department’s mediation remained deadlocked.

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