At least 50 per cent of the 2,000-odd employees at Ford’s Chennai factory have agreed to restart work at the unit, a Ford India official said on Monday. The plant had to shut down due to a staff strike that started on May 30. The company also warned protesting workers of loss of pay, effective June 14, and urged them to get back to the shopfloor.
Ford said it would continue to hold talks with the unions. This comes after the company came out with a ‘non-negotiable’ severance package asking the workers to accept it or face legal action. According to a workers’ union, only about 350 employees and not 50 per cent have accepted the company’s offer to restart work. The union says it will continue with the strike until the management offers a better package, as demanded by the protesting workers.
“Pursuant to the employee cascade on June 9, 2022, the company received a positive response, with close to 50 per cent of employees consenting to support production, while requesting to further discuss the severance package on offer,” the company executive said. “We look forward to having a constructive dialogue (with employees and union representatives) to explain the details and benefits of the severance package under the supervision of the labour department.”
The information released on Mondat added that for employees going on an ‘illegal strike’, a loss of pay will be applicable with effect from June 14. “To ensure the safety and security of our employees, staff and property, we have sought police support to prevent the protesters from interfering with the ingress and egress of employees supporting operations at the plant, and with materials entering or leaving the factory,” he added.
The union members claimed that the company had given the workers two options – one, to accept the severance package or two, to agree to restart work on the agreement that they will restart talks on severance package.
“Some 350-odd employees of the total 2,000 have agreed to go for the second option and hence we do not see it as an acceptance of the severance package,” said a union leader who requested anonymity.
Undr the new package, employees have been offered around 115 days of gross wages for each completed year of service. “We urge the protesting employees to call off the illegal strike and participate in resuming production as well as dialogue to understand the details of the severance package on offer,” the company official added.
As per the package offered by Ford India, the cumulative amounts for components set out will be subject to a minimum amount of Rs 30 lakh and a cap of Rs 80 Lakh. The package includes an ex-gratia amount equivalent to 87 days of last drawn gross wages (May 2022) and a fixed amount Rs 50,000, both being for every completed year of service. A lump sum amount of Rs 2,40,000 and continuation of current medical insurance until March 2024 were also offered.
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