The Nokia workers’ union — the Nokia India Thozhilalar Sangam — fearing loss of further jobs at the Chennai plant has requested the state government to convert it into an electronic zone, where consumer durables such as TV, set top boxes, laptops, etc, may be manufactured, in case if mobile phone production was not possible.
Nokia India had announced its decision to suspend production at the Chennai plant, effective November 1, owing to cancellation of orders by Microsoft for low-end handsets. “We have been asked by the state government to meet senior officials of both industry as well labour departments on October 23 to find solutions for the inevitable threat ahead of us,” said A Soundararajan, a CITU leader, a MLA, who is spearheading the cause of Nokia India workers’ problems over the last one year or so.
On Sunday, Soundararajan, along with a CPM MP from Tamil Nadu, had met Union commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi and appraised her of the impending job threat.
The minister in turn has assured him of finding a solution in a week’s time. Speaking to the FE, he said: “The state government does not require any major investment to convert the Chennai plant into an electronic goods manufacturing one. The Nokia India Chennai plant has land, necessary infrastructure, equipment, assembly lines and skilled workforce. With some modifications at the plant level, the state government can turn it into an electronic zone.”
“In case, if the state requires, it can find a joint venture partner to make such goods here. Even the state-owned ELCOT (Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu) can assist the government in chalking out plans for the plant,” Soundararajan told FE. The state government is already involved in making and selling mineral water, food items (through canteens), salt, cement, etc.
“If both central and state governments decide, they can find out an amicable solution for the Chennai plant. There are a number of options before them to save 850-odd remaining workers at the factory here,” he added. Nearly 5,500 workers have opted for VRS.
R Ravichandran | The Financial Express