Around 2,200 workers of Ford India Pvt Ltd’s plant near here are on protest demanding better severance package as the company has decided to shut down the plant sometime next month, said a workers’ union leader.
The workers are also dejected at being left out, as Ford India’s Gujarat plant and its workers will be taken over by Tata Motors’ subsidiary Tata Passenger Electric Mobility.
“The Tamil Nadu government should step in and secure a decent severance compensation for the Ford India workers in the state,” a workers union leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS.
According to the union official, production of cars at the Maraimalainagar plant is scheduled only for ten days.
Currently, the plant rolls out EcoSport for the export market.
The management is sticking to its stand on the severance compensation package and is not willing to move ahead, the official added.
In September 2021, Ford India announced its decision to wind down vehicle assembly in Gujarat’s Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021, and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022.
Ford India has four plants in the country – vehicle and engine plants in Chennai and Sanand.
Ford’s “quit India” decision will result in an uncertain future for about 5,300 employees – workers and staff, the officials said last year.
The Chennai plant has about 2,700 associates (permanent workers) and about 600 staff.
“In Sanand, the number of workers will be about 2,000,” Sanand workers’ union General Secretary Nayan Kateshiya had told IANS.
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.
The workers at Ford India want the prospective buyer of the car plants to hire them.
On Monday, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility and Ford India signed an MOU with the Gujarat government for the potential acquisition of Ford India’s Sanand vehicle manufacturing facility including its land and buildings, vehicle manufacturing plant, machinery and equipment, and transfer of all eligible employees engaged vehicle manufacturing operations, subject to the signing of definitive agreements and receipt of relevant approvals.
Tata Motors said Ford India will operate its powertrain manufacturing facilities by leasing back the land and buildings of the unit from Tata Passenger Electric Mobility.
Tata Passenger Electric Mobility would invest into new machinery and equipment which is necessary to commission and make the unit ready to produce its vehicles.
With the proposed investments, it would establish an installed capacity of 300,000 units per annum, which would be scalable to more than 400,000 units.
Tata Motors already has a presence in Gujarat and Ford India’s plant is nearby.
Last October, senior officials of Tata group had met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin that fueled the speculation about the former showing interest in Ford India’s plant in the state.
Tata Group Chairman N.Chandrasekaran had a meeting with Chief Minister Stalin, Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu, and senior state government officials.
In September 2021, a Tata Motors delegation led by its Executive Director Girish Wagh had met Stalin.
However, the agenda of the two meetings was not known.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at email@example.com)