Ford India workers in Chennai restart EcoSport production for exports
Even as their morale is at an all-time low with job losses looming on the horizon, workers at Ford India Private Ltd’s Chennai plant have restarted EcoSport production for export, said a manager.
The company has an export commitment of around 30,000 units which is to be completed by the end of this calendar year.
The workers’ union has also called for a meeting with senior Ford Motor Company officials involved in the decision to close three of the four factories in India.
“Production at the Chennai plant is proceeding according to schedule. The number of vehicles deployed per day would be different as it depends on the production schedule,” the workers’ union official told IANS on condition of anonymity. .
“The company is due to export around 30,000 cars by the end of this year. So management has coaxed workers into restarting production while talks about shutting down the plant,” said another. worker at IANS, preferring anonymity.
A day before the Ganesh Chaturthi festival on September 9, Ford India announced that it will end vehicle assembly in Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021 and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022.
Ford India has four factories in the country: vehicle and engine factories in Chennai and Sanand.
The company manufactures the EcoSport models in Chennai, while the Figo and Aspire models are manufactured in Sanand.
The Ford India plant in Chennai is the only manufacturer of the Ecosport model sold in the United States; and the Aspire and Figo models sold in Mexico and South Africa.
Previously, Ford India made Endeavor models in Chennai, but production recently ceased.
“Workers involved in the manufacture of Endeavor were told not to come to the factory for a week,” a senior official told IANS.
Ford India has decided to continue operating the Sanand engine plant which manufactures powertrains for Ranger models sold in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China), the Middle East and Africa.
Meanwhile, management and the workers’ union had two rounds of talks about shutting down the plant.
The workers have insisted on job security, but are also aware of the situation that management can stop sourcing components, shut down production and shut down the plant.
They are of the opinion that Ford India would like to send its workforce first and then sell the plant to an interested buyer.
“The wage agreement with the workers’ union at the Chennai factory was recently concluded. The agreement is valid for one year. Wage negotiations in Sanand were halted when the company announced its decision to close the factories.” , said union officials.
According to union officials, there is a difference in pay between workers at the Chennai factory and those in Sanand.
“In addition, the company has decided to continue to operate the Sanand engine plant. Thus, the impact of the plant closure is greater in the case of Chennai than in that of Sanand.”
Ford’s decision to “leave India” will mean an uncertain future for about 5,300 workers – laborers and clerks, officials said.
The Ford India plant in Chennai has around 2,700 associates (permanent workers) and around 600 employees.
“In Sanand, the number of workers will be around 2,000,” Sanand Workers Union General Secretary Nayan Kateshiya told IANS.
Ford India said more than 500 employees at the Sanand Engine Plant, which produces engines for export, and around 100 employees responsible for parts distribution and customer service, will also continue to support Ford’s business. in India.
According to Ford India, around 4,000 employees are expected to be affected by its decision.
Union officials are also studying settlement offers from other companies and to avoid other pitfalls so they can get good pay if they are unable to protect their jobs.