US car major Ford said on Monday that nearly 50% of employees at its Chennai plant, where a section of the workforce is on strike, have consented to support resuming production while requesting to discuss the severance package on offer further.
In an e-mailed response, a Ford India spokesperson told FE: “We look forward to having a constructive dialogue [with employees and union representatives] to explain the details and benefits of the severance package under the supervision of the labour department. Pursuant to the employee cascade on June 9, 2022, the company received a positive response, with close to 50% of employees consenting to support production while requesting to further discuss the severance package on offer.”
For employees continuing to be on strike, loss of pay as per the certified standing order continues to remain in effect since June 14.
“To ensure the safety and security of our employees, staff and property, we have requested support from police to prevent the protesting employees from interfering with the ingress and egress of employees supporting operations and materials into and outside the factory. We urge the protesting employees to call off the illegal strike and participate in resuming production as well as dialogue to understand the details of the severance package on offer,” he told FE.
Ford India had extended the deadline for workers to accept the severance package from June 14 to 18. The plant resumed operations partially with participation of around half of the workforce on June 14, after a two-week strike by workers seeking better compensation.
The company had set the June 14 deadline to accept a “non-negotiable” severance package, while indicating the possibility of legal action after the deadline. It had warned of early closure of the unit before completing the remaining export volume production. The factory has been making final lots of the EcoSport for the export markets and is slated for closure by the end of this month.
Under the compensation package proposed by the Ford management, workers have been offered 115 days of gross wages for each completed year of service. The company claims the package will be significantly higher than the statutory severance package or 15 days of wages for each completed year of service.
The package includes an ex gratia amount equivalent to 87 days of last-drawn gross wages (May 2022) and a fixed amount of `50,000, both for every completed year of service. In addition, benefits equivalent to a lump sum amount of `2,40,000 and continuation of current medical insurance until March 2024 have been offered. As per the notice, the cumulative amounts for components set out will be subject to a minimum of `30 lakh and a maximum cap of `80 lakh.