Even as the workmen at Ford’s Chennai and Sanand plants refuse to settle with any other option than the job protection, the company management on Wednesday said it will be working with the unions and other stakeholders to help the impacted workers.
“We will be working with the unions and other stakeholders on measures to help balance the impact and to care for those directly affected by the restructuring. We have started discussions with the union and have nothing additional to share,” a Ford spokesperson told FE when contacted.
While the management of Ford India had reportedly expressed its unwillingness to give its closure-bound factory employees any job assurance, citing the reason that the company had not been able to find buyers for the plants, the union at the Chennai Ford told FE that they don’t want to ‘dilute’ their stand on job guarantees by discussing any other options, including compensation package, at this juncture.
P Senthil Kumar, general secretary, Chennai Ford Employees Union told FE, they are waiting for the Tamil Nadu government to intervene, as the land and other incentives had been given to Ford at the time of setting up of the plant at Chennai, and hope that that state government would not let the plant to be closed down.
“We believe that the Tamil Nadu government has still not given its approval for the closure of the plant. The government can either influence the company against the closure or intervene in bringing a new buyer. The union is pinning hope on this count,” Kumar said.
As a part of the exiting local vehicle manufacturing in India, Ford on September 9 had announced 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. 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.
Kumar said that he has been getting around 200 calls from workers daily, expressing their despair over the ‘prospectus’ of their livelihood being taken away by the management. “We are still demanding that we should be given job protection, in the event of a third-party company taking over the unit and we don’t want to discuss anything else at this point. We have now been given some work- to complete the pending production of Eco Sport for the export markets. It may be there for three to four months,” he said.
Kumar said that negotiations on the job protection would be only between the union and the management, categorically rejecting any third-party intermediations. “Now that we have some production going on at the plant, workers will be getting salaries. We need to keep the production going so that the company will be able to negotiate with the new buyer on good terms,” he added.
According to union sources, the workers at the Sanand factory in Gujarat had staged a protest outside the plant on Tuesday, demanding the closure plan be scrapped or the employees should get priority for jobs at the same wage when a third party takes over the unit. The sources said workers fear that the closure would lead to the loss of their livelihoods.
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