Nokia employees mull legal options to unfreeze Chennai assets

T. E. Raja Simhan | | Updated on: Mar 13, 2018

BL23_IT_NEWNOKIA | Photo Credit: T.E. Raja Simhan

Nokia India Thozhilalargal Sangam (Employees Union) — representing the workers at the company’s production facility near Chennai — is unhappy with the possibility of being left out of global acquisition by Microsoft due to the tax authorities freezing the Finnish handset manufacturer’s assets over unpaid dues.

The union will explore legal options if the current imbroglio between Nokia and the Tax Department affects Microsoft’s take over of the unit at Sriperumbur, said its Treasurer P. Suresh. The Tax Department has claimed that Nokia India owes it over Rs 4,000 crore in unpaid dues and froze its assets earlier this year. The company has approached the Delhi High Court over the issue.

However, with companies setting December 12 as a deadline for the deal globally, unless the issue is resolved by then the Chennai production facility could be left out. This would mean that one of Nokia’s largest production facilities will act as a vendor, provide ‘a transitional service’ for about six to 12 months, till the issue is resolved. Microsoft is not interested in Nokia India providing indemnity and does not want to be associated with the liability in any way, said a reliable source.

However, the employees’ union, which is management-recognised and signed a long-term wage settlement in March, is not happy with the compromise. At a meeting of the office-bearers and the Executive Committee today, it has decided to wait till November 28 when the issue is to come up before the Delhi High Court, said a union source.

“We have told the management that if nothing happens, we may be forced to approach the Madras High Court for a solution,” Suresh said.

“With Microsoft announcing the acquisition of Nokia, we were happy and were hopeful that we will get a better deal. but we are worried that they may be left out of the deal ,” he told Business Line.

The association has nearly 5,300 employees in its fold.

Suresh said the average age profile of employees in the unit was around 25 years, and “we are just starting our life. When something like this happens, we are really worried. Nearly 30,000 families are benefited by Nokia,” he said.

Nokia agreed to pay part of the Rs 4,000-crore claimed by the tax authorities as an interim measure.

Published on November 22, 2013
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