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Foreign MNC Nokia ‘forcing Chennai staff to opt for VRS’

Employees of the troubled handset maker Nokia have said the Voluntary Retirement Scheme  (VRS) which came into effect from Tuesday should be optional, alleging it was being forced on them.
‘There are about 8,000 workers employed at the Sriperumbudur Nokia facility, which has been scaling down its operations and announced VRS for the workforce. But the management compelling the workers to accept the scheme has enraged them’, a leader from the employees union said on condition of anonymity.

The employees at a meeting here on Tuesday decided to seek the intervention of Tamil Nadu government to strictly direct the management to make the VRS scheme optional and not mandatory. In the aftermath of Nokia-Microsoft $7.2 billion deal, the handset major recently said that it regularly reviews its manufacturing strategy and added ‘following such a review, we can confirm we have launched a voluntary package (VRS) at our Chennai, India facility’.

‘The management is asking to take VRS. For those employees who have rejected VRS, the company has already stopped transportation services’, a Nokia India Employees Union source alleged.

Elaborating, the leader said the Union representatives recently approached the Assistant Commissioner, Labour department, seeking help and in his presence it was agreed that the company would not force the employees to accept VRS.

‘It should be optional. But the management is asking some of the employees to take VRS now itself. How is it possible?’, the union official said.
Last month, the employees staged a one-day fast here to draw the attention of the central and state governments to their plight.
Union sources claimed production at the Chennai plant, considered one of the biggest for Nokia, had declined from 13 million handsets per month to four million per month and that the machinery had been shifted to countries like Vietnam.
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