Toughening its stand against agitating employees, Toyota India has suspended 17 workers for misconduct and indiscipline four days after it declared a lockout in its twin factories near Bangalore.

“The suspended employees are all members of the union. The lockout was declared more because of indiscipline than on wage hike demand though it all began with that,” Toyota Kirloskar Motor Ltd (TKM) spokesperson told IANS in Bangalore on Thursday.

The company’s union, however, maintained that the suspension letters were not received by the affected employees, including some working for over a decade in the 16-year old firm. “When we learnt about the suspension at the tripartite meeting with the state deputy labour commissioner late on Wednesday, we told the management to withdraw it immediately as we are ready to work and negotiate on the wage hike quantum,” TKM union president Prasanna Kumar said.

Efforts of the state labour office to end the impasse did not yield result as the union and management did not budge from their respective stand. “There was no charge-sheet against them as per the state labour laws prior to suspension. We have sought the state government’s intervention for lifting the lockout and withdrawing the suspension orders,” Mr. Kumar said.

Re-conciliation talks to lift the four-day lockout are likely to continue on Thursday.

The Japanese global firm’s Indian joint venture’s plants are located at Bidadi, about 30 km from this tech city, with a capacity to rollout about 700 cars a day, with an installed production of 310,000 units annually.

Of the 6,400 employees, about 4,000 of them are union members and the remaining are on contract in both the factories.

This is the second time lockout was declared after 2006 over dismissal and suspension of some employees then.

Toyota holds 89 percent equity in the joint venture with the remaining 11 percent by the Pune-based Kirloskar group.