Ford protest stretches into Day 8

With an annual capacity of 200,000 units, the TN unit makes the EcoSport and Endeavour sport-utility vehicles.
Ford protest stretches into Day 8
Over 2,000 workers have been protesting at the Ford plant in Maraimalainagar.

CHENNAI: The protest at automaker Ford’s plant at Maraimalai Nagar, near here, is gaining momentum with over 2,000 workers striking work for the eighth consecutive day on Monday. The production at the facility has been reportedly halted since May 30.

With an annual capacity of 200,000 units, the TN unit makes the EcoSport and Endeavour sport-utility vehicles. Seeking a better compensation package has been one of the company union’s demands, which reportedly have not been accepted by the management.

Expressing their angst against the MNC, the workers’ sloganeering includes statements to the effect that the company was exploiting them only to keep milking profits and not standing behind them during hardship.

CITU’s S Kannan says the management has not expressed its stance and neither has the TN labour department spelt out its position as to how this stalemate is going to be resolved. While the shuttered Sanand factory of Ford has been taken over by the Tatas lock, stock and barrel, there is no clarity on the American auto major’s Chennai unit.

The management should ensure that employees who do not avail the compensation package, are given an undertaking for employment, Kannan added.

“It is painful to see them suffer endlessly without any attention from the government,” said KE Raghunathan, who has been a crusader for small and medium enterprises.

Pointing to the prospects of the Tata Group taking over the Ford unit in Chennai, he said the onus of looking after the affected lot is the duty of the government, “irrespective of whether the Tatas take over or not”.

He also went on to add that TN has failed to retain the unit and in finding an interested buyer. Despite the tag of the state being the Detroit of India and a hotspot for electric vehicles, “we seem to have lost the opportunity to bring Tatas to take over the Maraimalainagar plant. TN government must announce its efforts to attract the prospective companies to take over the unit and convince the affected parties and other players to be assured about the automotive ecosystem.”

As per a source in the government, it is learnt that the MNC is known to be liberal when it comes to making settlements via “better package.”

Also the initial attempt made by the Tatas last year, when it had evinced interest to take over the Ford unit, has fallen through, the source said.

Meanwhile, it is also gleaned that the workers at Ford are being offered a final settlement to the extent of 75 days of completed service. However, the staffers are seeking a higher settlement that would exceed the one given by General Motors in the US (110 days a year).

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