Chennai: Wearing a blue ‘Ford India’ shirt, 30-year-old G. Gomathi sits on a big white tarpaulin outdoors Ford’s Chennai automotive plant, which is anticipated to close operations by the tip of June.

Gomti is likely one of the 70 ladies workers who work on the meeting line on the plant. The ladies joined a whole bunch of their fellow male activists on Thursday, the fourth day of their dharna demanding a greater severance package deal.

The employees appear to have held an estimated 1,000-1,500 Ford EcoSport automobiles, but to be assembled, hostage. “If we find yourself making the automotive, there is not any relationship between administration and us, and we cannot have the ability to ask for something,” one worker, who spoke on situation of anonymity, informed ThePrint.

A manufacturing line at Ford’s Chennai automotive plant got here to a halt on Monday after employees claimed they had been requested to signal an enterprise that forbade them from protesting.

‘Worker enterprise’ learn, “I shall not have interaction in any exercise which disrupts manufacturing (together with assembly strike, sluggish strike and so on.) or is just not a part of any unauthorized meeting inside the plant premises.” Out there with print.

Gomti, who has been working on the plant for 13 years, mentioned the employees began the protest in the course of the first shift that runs from 6.45 am to three.15 pm on Monday.

“Since we began protesting contained in the plant, the administration didn’t permit the second shift employees until they signed the shape. From that day on, we began dharna and stayed right here day and evening,” she mentioned.

Women workers protest at Ford's Chennai plant.  Soumya Ashok |  impression
Girls employees protest at Ford’s Chennai plant. Soumya Ashok | impression

A gaggle of commerce union leaders went to satisfy the Deputy Commissioner of Labor on Thursday and requested him to intervene within the matter. Union members later informed ThePrint that no progress had been made.

Established in 1998, the Chennai plant’s 2,600 employees at the moment are divided into two teams. One group is staging a sit-in on the store ground contained in the plant, whereas the opposite group has occupied the garden adjoining to the plant’s entrance.

Gomti’s husband Arvind is a part of a gaggle protesting on the store ground. “Relations of the employees come to see them by the gate each day,” she mentioned. “It is like being in jail.”

In the meantime, in response to a collection of questions in regards to the protest, a Ford India spokesperson informed ThePrint that they “will have interaction with workers and union representatives on all excellent issues, together with compensation”.

“Given the continued nature of discussions, we now have nothing extra to share at this level. As we negotiate, we now have all manufacturing employees on rolls in Chennai,” the spokesperson mentioned.

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‘We had been assured that EVs would come to our plant’

On 9 September final 12 months, Ford introduced its determination to cease manufacturing automobiles on the market in India with quick impact. The US carmaker’s Sanand plant in Gujarat was anticipated to fabricate autos for export by the fourth quarter of 2021 and the Chennai plant by the second quarter of 2022.

Nevertheless, on 30 Could, Tata Motors signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Memorandum of Understanding) with Ford India and the Authorities of Gujarat to take over the Sanand plant.

M. Manimaran, who works on the Chennai plant, mentioned employees contacted the administration for readability on the information of the plant’s closure.

“They mentioned they’d ask the highest administration, and possibly electrical autos might be manufactured at this plant,” Manimaran mentioned.

On the dharna, employees say it was Ford India’s determination to use for the Authorities Manufacturing-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme that confused them. “So, whereas we had been underneath the impression that EVs would come to our plant, we really believed in it as a result of Ford utilized for the PLI scheme,” Manimaran mentioned.

Ford enters Chennai plant |  Soumya Ashok |  impression
Ford enters Chennai plant | Soumya Ashok | impression

He additionally claimed that the administration informed him with certainty on Could 12 that EVs wouldn’t be manufactured on the Chennai plant.

“The Gujarat plant was working at a loss they usually had been informed from March 2021 that they’d be shut down and now Tata has determined to take over, so they’re protected,” Manimaran mentioned.

“Right here, they informed us on Could 12 that there can be no extra work and issues can be over by June 30. How will we negotiate a superb severance package deal for all 2,600 of us on this quick time period? Then he promised us to make sure that we don’t protest. Proper now, we face lack of wage,” he mentioned.

The staff of the Chennai plant have expertise in assembling virtually all Ford fashions – Ikon, Figo, Fiesta Basic, Endeavor, Everest and EcoSport. Many individuals say that they even took a house mortgage to cool down in Chennai, which is why the information of the plant closure got here as an enormous shock.

Within the protest demonstration, R. There have been activists like Dhasarathan who informed ThePrint that he had no different supply of revenue to repay his debt. “After caring for our prolonged households, I used to be now ready to avoid wasting for my household. Then the shutters of the plant had been pulled down.”

Many employees at the moment are confronted with the choice whether or not to enroll their kids in metropolis faculties or return to their villages in southern Tamil Nadu.

“They are saying the plant was struggling, however I actually don’t consider so,” mentioned R.Okay., one other worker of the Chennai plant. Priyadarshini mentioned. “There was no manner for this plant to be broken, there have been no ‘non-production days’ till after the plant shutdown was introduced,” she mentioned.

A Sita, union chief for ladies workers, mentioned that when employees returned to the plant in September after the Vinayaka Chaturthi vacation, they discovered {that a} particular manufacturing line for the Endeavor mannequin was lacking. “For every week, it remained as a ‘non-production day,’ they usually all of a sudden made it seem to be the manufacturing line by no means existed,” Sita mentioned.

“Truly, the administration informed us to do all of the work earlier than telling the reality,” Priyadarshini informed ThePrint.

“All these years, no matter we mentioned or did, they stored telling us to aspire for ‘international’ requirements. They’re providing international requirements in security, course of and situations,” she mentioned. “Revenue is international, managers and engineers are international however the ‘international’ doesn’t apply to the workforce that really places the automobiles collectively.”

(Edited by Amritansh Arora)

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