Chennai, Feb 5: Six days after the Tamil Nadu government warned of its take over, tyre manufacturing major MRF today lifted its nearly two-month-long lockout of its factory at Tiruvottriyur in North Chennai, bringing smiles back on the faces of thousands of its employees. A MRF Spokesman told the sources that the factory was opened at 0700 hrs this morning.
''Employees reported for the first shift duty and the normal production in the factory also began,'' he added. The factory was reopened today as promised by MRF Chairman and Managing Director K M Mammen on Sunday evening after a meeting with Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. During the meeting, Mr Mammen assured the Chief Minister that apart from lifting the lockout, the MRF management would resolve the employees' problem by involving Electricity Minister, Labour Minister, officials from the Labour Department and representative of Employees Union.
The factory management also submitted before Madras High Court yesterday that the factory would be reopened in one or two days. In an advertisement issued in today's newspapers, MRF said the factory was being reopened on the advice of the government and also appealed to the workmen to extend cooperation with the management and the government for amicable solution of the issues at the earliest.
''The decision of the management is without prejudice to its rights and contentions in the proceedings before the High Court,'' it said and thanked the Chief Minister and the Electricity Minister for their intervention.
The management had declared lockout on December 3 last year following labour unrest as employees raised a banner of revolt against the management's decision to do away with the Chairman's Awards for the staff. The issue had rocked the State Assembly and Electricity Minister Arcot N Veerasamy had on January 30 warned that the government would not hesitate to take over the factory if the lockout was not lifted within a week, respecting the sentiments raised by the members in the House.
His warning came after members cutting across party lines condemned the unilateral decision of the management to declare a lockout and highlighted the plight of the workers and urged the government to stop electricity to the factory and demanded its takeover.
They also demanded immediate reinstatement of 28 employees, who were suspended and revoke the dismissal of two union leaders.