Ford India workers at Chennai facility plan to go on strike
Ford Motor's trouble in India is far from over. Even after the US-based carmaker left the car market, issues with its dealers and workers continue to grapple the manufacturer. In the latest development, its Chennai facility has been seeing protests by its workers over an uncertain future. More than 2,000 workers have threatened to go on strike demanding better compensation. Production at Ford India's Chennai facility has been stopped since May 30 as talks to take over the plant by any other car manufacturer has not reached any fruitful end so far.
Protesting workers' union at the Ford India plant were quoted by new agency PTI, complaining, "We have been on strike since Monday and there has been no production at the unit since then. We have asked for a better compensation package which the management is not willing to accept. This time, we have decided to go ahead with the strike as the severance package will take at least 15 days to settle. And June 30 is expected to be the last working day, we have resorted to the strike in advance."
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The union says that the workers are sitting on a strike inside the Ford facility at Maraimalai Nagar, which is around 40 kms from Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu. The protest has hit Ford India, which recently saw its second facility in India, located in Sanand, Gujarat, being formally handed over to Tata Motors by the state government. Similar talks continue for the Maraimalai Nagar facility with several carmakers vying to take over.
Ford Motor decided to wrap up its car business in India last year. In September, it announced that the US-based company will stop manufacturing vehicles in the country after incurring nearly $2 billion loss within 10 years of operation. There were talks that Ford may re-enter the market to use its base to focus on electric vehicles, but that plan too was dropped later.
A Ford spokesperson was quoted by PTI saying that there has been talks with the workers' union on all outstanding matters, including 'compensation'. However, there has been no consensus so far as the spokesperson said, "Given the ongoing nature of the discussions with the union, we may not be able to share details at this point and will have more to share later."
Some of the Ford India employees at the facility complained that the negotiations with the car manufacturer has been very slow. "They (management) want the settlement package to be much lower, which is contrary to our demand. But due to the strike, we hope they may change their stand" said one of the protesting employees at Ford India's Chennai plant.
Ford Motor's journey in India began in the 1920's when it came to the country as a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company of Canada, before exiting in the early 50's. In 1995, Ford returned to India, this time in collaboration with Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra. Ford and Mahindra had severed ties in between, and Ford became Ford Motor India Limited in 1998.
The last model launched by Ford in India is the Freestyle. Ford pitched it as a lifestyle adventure vehicle, slotting it somewhere between the Figo hatchback and the EcoSport SUV. Ford currently sells Endeavour, EcoSport, Figo, Figo Aspire and Freestyle models in India.