As no buyers in sight, Ford refuses to offer job protection for workers hit by closure of plants

“We were shocked to hear this news since the management handles the employees like a machine."

By:September 15, 2021 7:53 AM
Ford is not giving any job security for the employees that will be affected by the closing of their plantsFord had earlier this month announced it will cease manufacturing vehicles for sale in India “immediately”.

Even as the management of Ford India refuses to give its closure-bound factory employees any job assurance in the event of a third party taking over its vehicle manufacturing plants, the union at the Chennai Ford unit said they are now looking for the Tamil Nadu government’s intervention to get their jobs protected, when a new owner takes charge of the factories.

The union said that they have approached the state government with a plea to ensure that the new buyer should not only buy the assets, but also retain the existing workforce. The union also hopes the government to announce incentives for the prospective buyers which will encourage OEMs to look at the property and pave way for a possible ownership transfer.

P Senthil Kumar, general secretary, Chennai Ford Employees Union, told FE they held meetings with the representatives of the company management on Monday and Tuesday and the outcome was negative in respective of their demand on job security in the event of third party taking over the plant.

“Ford management representatives refused to give any assurance on the job protection front, saying that they don’t have any buyers, as of now. We don’t want to talk about any compensation package right now, as we want our jobs protected,” he said.

According to him, the union now wants Tamil Nadu government to announce incentives for the new buyer of the plant as well as clauses for the protection of jobs of the workers under the new owner. “We are now looking for government’s help and we will take further steps after that,” he said.

As part of exiting local vehicle manufacturing in India, Ford on September 9, announced that it will wind down vehicle assembly in Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021, and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022. In India, Ford India has four plants, vehicle and engine plants in Chennai and Sanand. Ford India has decided to continue operating the engine plant in Sanand while closing down the other three plants. The company had said that it is exploring the possibility of selling its manufacturing plants.

Senthil Kumar said the management made the closure announcement without any prior notice which affects the future of 2,638 employees. “We were shocked to hear this news since the management handles the employees like a machine. We can’t accept this announcement and we oppose the same. We urge the factory management to continue the operation of the factory or if the management plans to sell the factory to another company the Chennai Ford India management should ensure the job security of 2,638 employees,” the union demanded.

When contacted Ford India management refused to comment, saying more details will be shared in the future. While announcing the exit from manufacturing, the company said that more than 500 employees at the Sanand engine plant, which produces engines for export for the best-selling Ranger pickup truck, and about 100 employees supporting parts distribution and customer service, will continue to support Ford’s business in India.

Ford had said that close to 4,000 employees are expected to be affected by the restructuring and said will work closely with employees, unions, suppliers, dealers, government and other stakeholders in Chennai and Sanand to develop a fair and balanced plan to mitigate the effects of the decision.

Following accumulated operating losses of more than $2 billion over the past 10 years and a $0.8 billion non-operating write-down of assets in 2019, the restructuring is expected to create a sustainably profitable business in India, it added.

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