Automotive component manufacturer Bosch Ltd. declared a lockout at its Naganathapura plant with effect from 10.30 p.m. on Monday. The lockout notice issued by the company cited the “lightning tool-down strike” by company workers on Monday as the provocation. Bosch had earlier declared a lockout at its other plant in the city, at Adugodi.
However, S. Prasanna Kumar, president of the MICO Karmikara Sangha, the main union representing the workers at the Naganathapura plant, said the union had not received a copy of the notice. “The lockout is illegal,” he said.
Company as well as union sources confirmed that the main issue at stake between the two sides pertains to a fresh wage settlement, which had been pending since December 31, 2008. Prasanna Kumar told The Hindu that the management “has been dragging its feet even though the workers cooperated with the company during the height of the recession.” He said the workers agreed to “scheduled work stoppages” when demand for the company's products had fallen sharply in the wake of the global recession in 2009.
Venkatramaiah, a technician at the plant for 20 years, said the management's “casual approach to wage negotiations” provoked the workers to go on a “work-to-rule” protest from February 5. “We decided to work strictly according to the terms of our existing wage agreement with the management to register our protest,” Mr. Venkatramaiah said.
A senior Bosch official said output from the plant, which manufactures spark plugs, starters and alternators, among other automotive components, fell by 40 per cent in February as a result the “slow-down” by workers. “We lost an order worth Rs. 30 crore from Maruti Suzuki last month, which is likely to be a permanent loss,” the company official said. “Our competitors are not going to remain idle if our reputation as a reliable supplier is dented,' he remarked. The company may also lose another order form a major car manufacturer, he added.