US auto major Ford Motor Company’s decision to stop vehicle manufacturing in India has taken its workers by shock and surprise and they have approached the Tamil Nadu government for support, said a worker’s union official.
Even as workers are eagerly waiting for a meeting with Ford India Private Ltd’s management on Monday, the union official said that the shutting down of the plants is expected to be raised in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
“We had expected the company to shut down one of the two Indian plants – Chennai or Sanand, Gujarat. The decision to close down at both the locations has come as a shock,” the Ford Union official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IANS.
On September 9, Ford India announced that it will wind down vehicle assembly in Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021 and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022.
“In India, Ford has four plants – two vehicle plants and two engine plants. The management has decided to shut down three plants. We do not know for how long the engine plant in Sanand will continue to operate,” Sanand workers’ union General Secretary Nayan Kateshiya told IANS.
He said the average age of the workers in Sanand plant is about 30 years and many had got their jobs confirmed recently.
“There are about 2,000 workers in Sanand. Many of them have availed loans after their jobs got confirmed. Now they are uncertain about their future,” Kateshiya added.
Union officials at Chennai and Sanand are not sure as to what Ford India has in store for them.
Workers told IANS that a majority of the workers at Ford India’s plant near here are permanent, unlike other companies which employ a large number of contract workers.
“Ford India has been a good employer,” an Union official added.
Ford’s quit India decision will result in an uncertain future for about 5,300 employees – workers and staff, union officials said.
According to Union officials, Ford India’s Chennai plant has about 2,700 associates (permanent workers) and about 600 staff.
“In Sanand, the number of workers will be about 2,000,” Kateshiya said.
Ford India had said more than 500 employees at the Sanand engine plant, which produces engines for export, and about 100 employees supporting parts distribution and customer service, also will continue to support Ford’s business in India.
According to Ford India, about 4,000 employees are expected to be affected by its decision.
“Ford will work closely with employees, unions, suppliers, dealers, government, and other stakeholders in Chennai and Sanand to develop a fair and balanced plan to mitigate the effects of the decision,” the company had said.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)