Narendra Modi makes a statement in parliament on Nokia factory’s revival
Shivani Chaturvedi | March 5, 2015
There is hope in the air. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s categorical statement on plans to revive Nokia plant at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu has breathed life into lives of thousands of workers.
The plant was closed in November last year. Even though there is no clarity on revival plans, the news that the prime minister spoke on the matter in the parliament early this week is encouraging.
Varathan, a former Nokia employee speaking to Governance Now says, “We have been hearing that discussions were on to restart the plant. But PM’s assurance has given hope to all of us who were thrown out of jobs and still have not found any suitable job.”
Varathan’s friend Gnanavel who worked at Foxconn expressed his concern saying, “The Income Tax department froze Nokia’s asset, until that asset freeze order is lifted, how can we expect things to get settle down?”
Nokia had shut down its big mobile manufacturing facility at Sriperumbudur last year. The company had tax troubles and other legal issues. More than 30,000 people were affected by the shutdown of the Sriperumbudur facility, which has been one of the biggest in the world.
With Nokia, its dependent unit Foxconn also announced suspension of its operation in December last year, and then confirmed closure from February 10, leaving nearly 1700 employees jobless.
“If Nokia plant gets restarted we can expect Foxconn also to get revived,” says CITU state secretary S Kannan. But as of now there is not much clarity as to how the things will progress on this issue, he says, adding, “We can just hope that the plant gets reopened and those who lost their jobs get absorbed”.
“Tamil Nadu politician TK Rengarajan had raised the demand during winter session that the government should take up Nokia. So we don’t know as of now what exactly is going to happen, whether the government takes up the company or not,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Industries Minister P Thangamani had told the state Assembly last month that efforts are on to reopen Nokia's handset manufacturing facility here, whose operations have been suspended. "Efforts are on to reopen the Nokia plant," he said in a brief reply to a question raised by CPI member V Ponnupandi.
He had indicated that the company was not planning to recommence operations anywhere else in the country. "The company is not going anywhere," he said.
“Government is willing to revive it and can take number of steps but the decision to come back again would be that of the management. We need to wait and watch how things take shape,” says S Kalaivani joint commissioner of labour, Tamil Nadu government.
On Tuesday the prime minister told the Upper House that the Central government was “making efforts to see that the Nokia unit in Chennai, which shut down last year, restarts soon”. Blaming the UPA government for the fiasco, he asserted that his government would try its best to get the plant up and running once again. “It was not because of us but because of policies of the previous government… We are trying to revive that facility,” Modi said.
“If we have to create jobs, we will have to promote the idea of Make in India. We will have to focus on infrastructure development,” he asserted.
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