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wistron riots: Karnataka industries minister says Wistron and Toyota incidents will not affect state’s investment prospects


Bengaluru: Karnataka Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar has dismissed possibilities of recent incidents of labour unrest at Wistron and workers strike at Toyota Kirloskar Motor plant, affecting the future investment prospects of Karnataka.

“These incidents will not hurt future investments. In fact, the government-approved investments of Rs 22,419 crore on Monday for EV manufacturing projects. The government is doing everything to encourage businesses,” he told ET.

On addressing labour grievances, he said the industries department is regularly in touch with the labour department to solve labour related issues. “Wistron too has admitted to their fault and the company is ready to resume operations soon.”

Meanwhile, business leaders have urged chief minister BS Yediyurappa to fix the flaws with the way its labour regulators function so that they identify hints of labour unrest early and intervene before it snowballs into a crisis Karnataka can ill-afford.

They raised concerns over recent incidents of unrest, and warned of threats they pose to business sentiments when the state’s economy is showing signs of a rebound after a prolonged slump.

“The labour department should play a very different role in dispute redressal. There should be a proper grievance redressal system to address issues raised by workers early and ensure the workforce does not take law into their hands,” Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told ET. The department, she added, should set a transparent system for wages so that nobody is treated unfairly.

Several stakeholders have also lobbed the blame at the doorstep of the labour department, saying its officials failed to scent the labour frustration at Wistron early. “Labour rights are never violated if labour authorities do adequate and timely inspection of all the records. That will also prevent this kind of a flare-up,” said Shekar Viswanathan, former vice-chairman at Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

Based on his experience of working in different parts of India, Viswanathan called Karnataka’s workforce as the most disciplined in the country and credited workers, supervisors and engineers with building Karnataka’s image as an industry friendly state. “The government should take a firm stand of not compromising in matters of discipline.”

Veteran labour regulations expert SN Murthy said the government should constitute a panel of advisors with representatives from the trade union, management and academia to advise the labour department on resolving issues related to labour regulations. “Most officials in the labour department are unaware of the legal provisions and hence fail to take rational decisions. A panel could advise the government on such matters.”

Industry bodies too have stressed the need for better dialogue between the management and the workforce. “There should be a constant and open dialogue with all stakeholders so that critical needs of workers and management are balanced in a fair and judicious manner,” said Sandeep Singh, chairman at CII-Karnataka.

Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce (BCIC) president TR Parasuraman urged all stakeholders to seriously introspect from these incidents and take quick and appropriate countermeasures to ensure the state’s labour climate remains conducive for investment and business.

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