GM workers angry and disappointed as ‘secure future’ turns a mirage

Rutam Vohra Ahmedabad | Updated on January 11, 2018

US carmaker General Motors Co's decision to exit its Indian car business and focus only on exports has come as a shock to around 400 employees from its Halol facility, which the company had closed down about three weeks ago.

These workers, some of whom were transferred by the company to its Talegaon facility in Maharashtra, expressed their grief and disappointment with the company's decision.

They felt let down by the company, which had promised them a ‘secure job and safe future’ at Talegaon.

"All those promises and assurances are now turning out to be a mirage. Already, we are paid less compared to the existing workers at Talegaon. Moreover, now there is extreme uncertainty about the company's future in India itself," one of them told BusinessLine.

According to some, the Halol workforce is senior to its counterpart at Talegaon, which was set up in 2008.

Yet, the Talegaon manpower qualifies for payment of a higher package due to locational advantage (closer to a metro city).

The union leaders at Halol were called to the plant to share the ‘news’.

“The company called us - representatives of workers - to the plant this afternoon and told us that they are exiting the domestic market and the focus will remain only on the export market. This is shocking for all of us. We take this as an indication of GM's complete exit from all operations in India over the next two-three years," said Rachit Soni, union leader at GM workers' Association in Halol.

After announcing the closure of its Halol facility, GM had offered a consolidated financial package - Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS), which was rejected by the most workers for lack of attractive amount.

GM closed the Halol factory permanently on April 28, and asked its employees to either take the financial package or a transfer to Talegaon factory.

The transfers started taking place from May 15 in a phased manner in batches of 40-50 employees every week.

"The first such batch left on May 15 and subsequently, every week there is one batch lined up till July 31.

Totally about 400 workers are believed to get transferred to Talegaon. But now most of these workers are reconsidering their transfer as uncertainty looms," said one of them who was about to leave for Talegaon in the next few days.

However, union leaders have initiated talks with the government to protect the workers’ interests. But things seemed to be moving at a snail's pace, they say.

"This is a very tricky situation for workers. They are unable to decide what to do. We have approached the government to look into the matter and consider equal pay for equal work. Otherwise workers will feel cheated," said Soni.

Published on May 18, 2017

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