Ford employees protest closing of factory, demand TN govt’s intervention

A section of employees at the manufacturing facility of auto maker Ford India near Chennai on Tuesday staged a protest against the decision of the US-based company to close the factory and sought the intervention of the Tamil Nadu government, Union sources said.

Chief Minister M K Stalin, Industries minister Thangam Thennarasu and senior government officials reportedly held a meeting at the Secretariat to decide on further course of action.

In a statement, the Chennai Ford Employees Union expressed ‘shock’ over the decision to shut the manufacturing unit and demanded that the management take alternative steps towards ensuring that the livelihood of the nearly 2,700 employees does not get affected.

The Union urged the company not to close the facility and in the exigency of a closure, it should ensure the management accommodates the employees to another production unit so that livelihood of the employees does not get affected.

A meeting between the employees and management held over the last two days did not yield desired results which lead to the protest by the employees in front of the factory at Maraimalai Nagar situated about 50 km from the city.

Some employees wearing factory uniforms, backed by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), resorted to protest by raising slogans demanding the state government’s intervention and not to close the plant as announced.

According to industry experts, following the closure of the facility, several thousands of jobs were at stake as several ancillary companies that supply auto parts to Ford India tend to get affected.

Meanwhile, in response to query from PTI, Ford India said the company was committed to working closely with the employees and union to care for those impacted by the restructuring of its business.

On September 9, Ford said it would shut its two manufacturing facilities in India and would sell only imported vehicles in the country as part of a restructuring exercise.

The company, which invested about USD 2.5 billion at its Chennai and Sanand (Gujarat) plants, would stop selling vehicles such as the EcoSport, Figo and Aspire produced from these factories.

Meanwhile, AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam sought Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s immediate intervention in the issue and ensure the company’s facility at Maraimalai Nagar is kept afloat.

In a statement, he said the company announced the closure of its plant here in the second quarter of next year due to huge accumulating losses and lack of growth in a difficult market. “The move will affect the future of about 4,000 direct employees and also that of about 40,000 indirect workers. The future of micro, small and medium enterprises dependent on Ford Motor is also very bleak,” the AIADMK coordinator said. He appealed to the chief minister to provide relief to the employees by sustaining the industrial climate in the State.

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