Office bearers of the Chennai Ford Employees Union will meet Ford India management today, to discuss rehabilitation measures for employees and plant workers impacted by the company’s decision to close its India operations. Ford has two plants in India, one at Sanand in Gujarat and the other one at Chennai.
"The demands we intend to make are simple and straightforward: the only compensation we can accept is a job for every job lost," said R Suresh, president of the labour union, speaking to CNBC-TV18, "We don’t intend to settle for mere monetary compensation, as things stand."
According to reports, plant workers at the Chennai plant knew of Ford
's decision to shut shop only in the early hours of Thursday. Other reports indicated that the Tamil Nadu government and Ford India plan to initiate talks with other OEMs to acquire the plant. No official statement has been made in this regard.
"We would like to make abundantly clear to Ford that should the company sell the plant to another OEM, we need to feature as part of that acquisition and retain our jobs," Suresh added.
The meeting, expected to be held at 3:30 pm today, will feature all 200 labour union representatives in talks with Ford management.
On Thursday, Ford made public its decision to shut its Chennai and Sanand factories. "As part of our Ford+ plan, we are taking difficult but necessary actions to deliver a sustainably profitable business longer-term and allocate our capital to grow and create value in the right areas," said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company's president and CEO, in a statement.
"Despite investing significantly in India, Ford has accumulated more than $2 billion of operating losses over the past 10 years, and demand for new vehicles has been much weaker than forecast," Farley added.
In the statement, Ford India announced that it would halt production at the Sanand vehicle assembly between October and December, while the Chennai plant would wind down engine and vehicle assembly operations by April-March 2022. "Ford will work closely with employees, unions, dealers, and suppliers to care for those directly impacted," the statement added.
The plant closure notwithstanding, Ford said it would continue to sell its iconic cars like the Mustang Coupe in India. The OEM also held firm to its long-term global plan to invest over $30 billion to develop new hybrid and electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E.
Ford's Chennai plant employs 2,638 plant workers and has an annual capacity of 150,000 units. In FY'21, Ford sold 48,041 cars in India to secure a market share of merely 1.8 percent.