Trouble grows in Ford India after seven workers suspended


    Chennai, (IANS) Labour trouble at car maker Ford India Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based Ford Motor Company, Friday took a serious turn with the company suspending seven workers, a day after it agreed that no action will be taken against workers who boycotted work to demand reinstatement of dismissed employees.

    “In the afternoon (Friday), seven workers including the union office bearers were handed out suspension orders. The suspension is operative with immediate effect while the issuance of chargesheet and disciplinary proceedings will happen in due course,” K.Selvaraj, treasurer of Ford India Employees Union (FIEU) and one of the suspended workers, told IANS.

    The suspension orders have taken the workers by surprise as the management has taken a U- turn to what it had agreed before the joint labour commissioner Thursday, Selvaraj said.

    At the conciliation meeting Thursday, the FIEU and Ford India management had agreed that all the workers would resume their normal duties Thursday night shift onwards and the management will not take any punitive action against the absent workers. The company would apply the principle of “No work, no pay” on the days workers abstained from work.

    “Curiously the suspension orders are dated Thursday and were issued today (Friday). A general body meeting of the union has been called Sunday to chalk out the next course of action,” FIEU vice president K.Palanivelu told IANS.

    Queried about the development, Ford India, in statement to IANS, said: “We have not taken any punitive action and there is a suspension pending enquiry against a few select employees. We are continuing to extend full cooperation working closely with relevant government agencies to review them on case to case basis.”

    “As of today, March 30, 2012, there has been no disruption to our production and we are maintaining normal production schedules at the plant. Majority of the employees who were part of the small demonstrations earlier are back at work today and in consultations with relevant government authorities, no disciplinary action has been taken against employees who stayed away from work,” the statement said.

    According to Selvaraj, the conciliation meeting slated Friday evening to discuss the issue of nine dismissed workers did not effectively take place as the company had deputed two officials who do not have decision-making authority.

    “The joint commissioner of labour decided to postpone the meeting as the General Manager was not present as promised the previous day,” Palanivelu said.

    Ford India workers were protesting against the dismissal of nine employees (Tuesday) for fudging the medicine bills submitted for reimbursement. Around 700 workers boycotted their work Wednesday and Thursday, demanding the reinstatement of the dismissed workers.

    Employees of Ford India can claim reimbursement of medicine charges on submission of pharmacy bills.

    On an enquiry, the company found that the nine employees had submitted bogus bills and they were dismissed.