Marriage engagement of a first victim worker
By Venkatachari Jagannathan
The decision of the American automobile major Ford Motor Company to close its Indian factories claimed its first victim: the engagement of a young worker at the Chennai factory.
“A worker’s wedding engagement has been called off after the girl’s family heard about Ford’s decision to quit vehicle manufacturing in India,” an official from the Employees’ Union told IANS. of Chennai Ford (CFEU).
He said this is the first impact of Ford’s decision on workers. Many workers have taken out home and auto loans and dues need to be paid as job loss and an uncertain future stares at them.
A day before the Ganesh Chaturthi festival on September 9, Ford India announced that it would end vehicle assembly in Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021 and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai from here the second quarter of 2022.
Ford India has four factories in the country – vehicle and engine factories in Chennai and Sanand.
Ford India decided to continue operating the Sanand engine plant while closing the other three.
According to the CFEU official, the company’s management had two talks with union officials on Monday and Tuesday.
“We expressed our opposition to the company’s sudden decision to close the factories. Management said it approached the Tamil Nadu government for permission to close the plant. They also said they would approach Chief Minister MK Stalin or Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the shutdown,” the official said.
“We had told management that the workers were in favor of a big reduction in wages so that costs could come down and operations become viable. However, officials disagreed,” he said.
According to him, the management wants our agreement for a global compensation so that the workers can be sent home.
“They had said that the closure decision was irreversible. We had asked them to do so in writing,” he added.
Workers said management had no answer as to what they intended to do with the plant.
“For two days, production has been stopped because workers are demoralized at the thought of losing their jobs,” he said.
In a statement, the CFEU said it did not accept Ford India’s decision to close the factories.
The CFEU has asked the company’s management to secure jobs for workers at the Chennai factory with the proposed buyer of the factory.
At the Sanand plant in Gujarat, Ford India management held a discussion with the union on Monday.
“The management of the Sanand plant had a discussion with us. They wanted to know if we had any questions about the company’s decision to close the factories,” Sanand Workers’ Union General Secretary Nayan Kateshiya told IANS.
“We had asked them about the future of the engine plant workers and how long they would operate. We also asked them about the future of the factories that are to be closed, if they would be sold/leased,” Kateshiya added.
According to him, the management did not have an answer and said that they would return.
“The work of completing the assembly of the cars that remain on the production lines is underway. The engine plant is operating,” he said.
Ford’s decision to leave India will lead to an uncertain future for around 5,300 employees – workers and employees, union officials said.
According to union officials, Ford India’s Chennai plant has about 2,700 associates (permanent workers) and about 600 employees.
“In Sanand, the number of workers will be around 2,000,” Kateshiya said.
Ford India had said that more than 500 employees at the Sanand engine plant, which produces engines for export, and around 100 employees in parts distribution and customer service, would also continue to support the business of Ford in India.
According to Ford India, around 4,000 employees are expected to be affected by its decision.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])