Tamil Nadu

Talks over closure of Ford plant fail

After two rounds of talks held on Monday and Tuesday with the senior management of Ford, union members said the company had made it clear that it would wind up operations at its Chennai plant by the second quarter of 2022.

“The talks have failed. The management and other officials said they had explored and evaluated all options before arriving at this decision,” P. Senthil Kumar, general secretary of the Chennai Ford Employees Union (CFEU), told The Hindu.

On behalf of the 2,600 workers at the plant, the CFEU on Monday held the first round of talks during which it submitted a letter that said, “The union wants the company to ensure the workers’ livelihood and employment in the event of a sale to some other management.”

On Tuesday, the union members asked the management to pay wages until June 2022. “The wage agreement ends in March, which means it will be the last salary. We have requested the management to pay us till June,” Mr. Senthil Kumar said.

The workers have to finish making 30,000 more cars over the next three months. “All these are Ford EcoSport. The company has stopped making Ford Endeavour here,” one of the workers said. Production did not happen on Monday and the first half of Tuesday. “There will be no production tomorrow [Wednesday], too, owing to the semiconductor chip shortage,” said another worker.

Government sources said Chief Minister M.K.Stalin held an elaborate discussion with Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu and a few officials. He enquired about the current status of the plant and the details of the impact of closure. The union members said they would soon approach the Chief Minister. One of the workers said that after the news of closure came in, the wedding of a colleague was called off. “One worker’s wedding has been called off and another worker’s engagement has been stalled,” Mr. Senthil Kumar said.

When contacted, a Ford spokesperson said, “We have started discussions with the union and explained the reasons for the decision. We understand their concerns. We are committed to working closely with our employees and union to care for those impacted by the restructuring.”

Members of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a protest near the plant on Tuesday evening. S. Kannan, deputy general secretary of the CITU, Tamil Nadu, said some Ford workers also participated in the one-hour protest.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 3:03:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/talks-over-closure-of-ford-plant-fail/article36465206.ece

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