With the deadline for winding up operations nearing and with no ray of hope of another company taking over the unit, workers at Ford’s Chennai car plant have started a protest demanding better severance package. Currently, production at the plant has come to a standstill.
Those workers who went in for their shift on Monday refused go to the shop floor and started an in-house agitation. “We went inside and said we won’t work until they provide a solution to us. The management told us that if we don’t work, it would be marked as loss of pay,” one of the workers inside, who has been there for the last 36 hours, told The Hindu.
Apart from this, those who came in for the second shift are protesting outside the plant. One of the protestors, also an employee said, “the management asked us to sign a declaration that we will not protest, we refused and we are all sitting here at the plant,” he added. Around six workers who spoke said they were being utilised till the company finished production of all its pending cars. “We have finished all the pending work. Work on 1,500 cars is pending, And this will get over in a week’s time. So now, the management has started treating us differently,” one of them lamented.
One of the key union members said there was news about plans to use this plant for making electric vehicles, so the union put on hold talks for a few days. “We were hopeful that we will get jobs. But in the second week of May, we were told that there are no such plans. And now the company has indicated that business would be wound up by end of June,” he added.
Sources said the Deputy Labour Commissioner from Sriperumbudur visited the plant and held talks, and more details would be made available tomorrow.
The employees requested the Tamil Nadu government to immediately look into this issue and extend help.
Last year, on September 9, the U.S.-headquartered carmaker said it would cease manufacturing vehicles for sale in India immediately; manufacturing of vehicles for export would wind down at the Sanand vehicle assembly plant by the fourth quarter of 2021 and the Chennai engine and vehicle assembly plants by the second quarter of 2022. There was no update from Ford’s public relations team on the protest until the story had gone to print.