Nokia India employees boycott canteen services, some resort to 'hunger strike'

Apr 21 2014, 21:55 IST
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The management has denied the charge that the VRS, which came into effect on April 15, is being forced on the employees. Reuters The management has denied the charge that the VRS, which came into effect on April 15, is being forced on the employees. Reuters
SummaryEmployees at mobile maker Nokia India's plant near here are boycotting canteen services from today in protest against the...

Employees at mobile maker Nokia India's plant near here are boycotting canteen services from today in protest against the recently announced voluntary retirement scheme, which they allege is being forced on them.

"From this morning, we have stopped using the canteen services offered to us by the company as a mark of protest against forcing us to opt for the VRS," an office-bearer of the Nokia India Employees Union said.

The office-bearer said the union had served a notice to the company conveying its decision to stop using the canteen services at the plant in Sriperumbudur, adding that there was no disruption in production at the plant, which has over 8,000 employees and functions in two shifts.

The management has denied the charge that the VRS, which came into effect on April 15, is being forced on the employees.

"It is up to the employees to opt for it or not," Nokia had said last week.

However, the office-bearer today alleged the management asked them to "either accept the VRS scheme offered to us before May 14 or we will be going home even without the amount offered."

Last week, about 700 trainees opted for the VRS.

Workers at the factory say that since they were trained in manufacturing of mobile handsets, they would not be able to change jobs.

Last month, the employees resorted to a one-day fast here seeking the intervention of the central and state governments.

The VRS was announced in the aftermath of Microsoft's USD 7.2 billion deal to acquire Nokia, with the company saying it was part of a regular review of manufacturing strategy.

The company is locked in tax disputes with both the central and state governments.

Meanwhile, union President M Saravana Kumar said nearly 2,500 employees in one shift resorted to a 'hunger strike' at the factory by boycotting the canteen services.

"About 10 employees fainted and were administered first aid. We will continue our protest in other shifts but we will continue to work as usual", he said.

The Union would decide its future course of action within the next two days, he said.

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