Ford Motors exit: Mevani lends support to workers, offers to ‘fight’ on their behalf

Jignesh Mevani has become the first political leader to approach and voice support for the workers, who were informed about Ford’s decision to cease car manufacturing at the plant that was commissioned in 2015.

Extending political muscle to workers’ protest against the decision of Ford Motors to exit India, legislator Jignesh Mevani met around 800 staff outside the Sanand plant in Gujarat on Tuesday. The independent MLA offered to fight on the workers’ behalf till a settlement is reached in favour of around 2000 workers who will be rendered jobless in three months if Ford Motors sticks to its exit plans.

“I will stand with you and fight for you till a favourable outcome emerges. I do not know about the remaining 181 (MLAs of Gujarat assembly), but I can guarantee you my full support,” Mevani told the group of workers who met him after finishing their day shift at 4 pm.

Mevani has become the first political leader to approach and voice support for the workers who were informed about the company’s decision to cease car manufacturing at the plant that was commissioned in 2015. “The state government and the Centre should intervene in this issue. They should force the company to come to the negotiating table. It is not just a matter of 25-50 workers. It is a matter of survival of the workers and their families,” the Vadgam MLA told the workers.

The workers applauded as Mevani said it was the Gujarat government’s responsibility to ensure that any automobile company willing to take over the operations of the Sanand plant should absorb all the current employees at the same salaries. “If the state government fails to do this, then as an alternative, all the workers at Sanand plant should be given government jobs,” he added.

Mevani urged the workers to organise a “dharna” outside the Ahmedabad Collector’s office to press for their demands. “If you press their (the government officials’) noses now, they might open their mouths. They have crocodile skins. Do not take them lightly. You all have seen how the farmers have been agitating for the past several months (against the farm bills). They are not being heard. This is an example before us,” he added.

Anilsinh Zala, a representative of Karnavati Kamdar Ekta Sangh, a union of 850 workers, thanked Mevani for being the “first politician” to have taken interest in their issue. “After working for more than five years, we are being told that we are going to lose our jobs. What will be our future? We will be meeting later to decide on the future course of action,” Zala said. The workers’ union have already approached the labour department of the state government.

The Sanand plant, adjoining the Tata Motors plant, is spread across 460 acres in North Kotpura. Earlier this month, Ford Motors had announced it will cease production of cars in India by the end of this year but will continue to produce engines.

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