Workers at Nokia's manufacturing plant in Chennai went on a one-day hunger strike on Monday demanding job security, even as transfer of the facility to Microsoft remained uncertain, on account of a legal tangle arising out of the tax disputes in different courts of the country. Nearly 2,000 workers, a majority of them women, participated in the strike.
Addressing the protestors, president of the Nokia India Thozhilalar Sangham union and state president of CITU A Soundararajan said the workers only demand was to safeguard their jobs. “Workers are not concerned about whether or not the I-T department has to collect taxes or the Nokia is liable to pay that. We want our jobs protected,” he said.
The Chennai plant has been in news following a R21,000-crore income-tax dispute with the government. This has stalled the transfer of asset to Microsoft leaving over 8,000 workers in the lurch. The Tamil Nadu government had also slapped a sales tax claim of R2,400 crore on the company.
Soundararajan said the onus was on the state to take care of 20,000 workers directly and indirectly employed by the Nokia facility. The workers had been unhappy with management's recent move to divert production to other countries like Vietnam and China that could lead to job retrenchment.
According to union leaders, Nokia had shifted production of some of low-end models and the recently launched Asha series from Chennai.