Nokia Employees stage fast

CHENNAI: Seeking to draw the attention of the Central and state governments to their plight, employees of handset maker Nokia India’s manufacturing facility at Sriperumbudur near here Monday staged a one-day fast demanding job security.
More than 3,000 employees, mostly in the 20-30 age group and a majority of them women, wearing black badges, took part in the protest, spearheaded by the Nokia India Thozhilalargal Sangam (Employees Union) near the State Guest House here.
“Central and state governments should come forward and ensure that there was no job loss due to the proposed transfer of assets of Nokia to Microsoft (as per the USD 7. 2billion deal),” Union Honorary President A Soundararajan, MLA, said.
The employees are up against the company’s indication of “retrenchment or closure of the plant”.
“We do not want any job losses. We have been working at the plant since it began operations at Sriperumbudur,” an employee told PTI.
Asked whether there has been decline in production of handsets at the facility, considered one of the biggest for Nokia globally, the employee who did not want to be named, said the entire “Asha” range of mobile phones had been shifted to other manufacturing plants while some machineries shipped to Vietnam and other countries.
“We are assembling the phones here. From production of 13 million handsets per month, we are now producing only 4 million units per month. Due to decline in production, the three shift operation has been cut to two shifts”, the employee said.
The Union, is backed by Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and other member unions of the CITU area also supporting the employees in the hunger-strike.
The employees said they would decide on their next move this week.
Earlier, Nokia India Employees Union President M Saravana Kumar said they would meet senior Labour and Industries department officials soon seeking government’s support.
The employees said the Chennai plant has about 8,500 employees out of which 40 per cent were women. Besides, 20,000 indirect employees were located in the vicinity of the plant.
On March 14, in a jolt to the employees, the Supreme Court ordered Nokia India to give Rs 3,500 crore as a guarantee before it transfers the plant to Microsoft.
The apex court upheld the Delhi High Court verdict which is currently facing an income tax dispute.
The Tamil Nadu Government has also slammed a Rs 2,400 crore notice to Nokia saying the company had been selling the products produced from Chennai plant to domestic market instead of shipping overseas.