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Nokia's voluntary retirement scheme triggers high-decibel controversy

"We would like to clarify that the scheme is voluntary and it is up to employees to opt for it or not," Nokia said responding to allegations of employees that they are being forced to accept the scheme.

Mail Today Bureau | April 16, 2014 | Updated 12:34 IST
Nokia clarifies VRS 'voluntary', not forcing staff
(Photo: Reuters)

Finnish handset major Nokia has said the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) announced for employees of its facility near Chennai is optional and is up to them to opt for it.

"We would like to clarify that the scheme is voluntary and it is up to employees to opt for it or not," Nokia said responding to allegations of employees that they are being forced to accept the scheme.

There are about 8,000 workers employed at the Sriperumbudur Nokia facility, which has been scaling down its operations and the company had announced VRS for the workforce.

"But the management is compelling workers to accept the scheme and it has enraged them," an employees union leader earlier said.

At a meeting held on Tuesday, employees affiliated to the Nokia India Thozhilalargal Sangam (Nokia India Employees Union) decided to seek intervention of the Tamil Nadu government to strictly direct the management to make the VRS scheme optional and not mandatory.

In the aftermath of Nokia-Microsoft $7.2-billion deal, the handset major recently said that it regularly reviews its manufacturing strategy and added following such a review, "we can confirm we have launched a voluntary package (VRS) at our Chennai, India facility".

"The management is asking to take VRS. For those employees who have rejected VRS, the company has already stopped transportation services," a Nokia India Employees Union source alleged.

Elaborating, the union leader said that union representatives recently approached the assistant commissioner, labour department, seeking help and in his presence it was agreed that the company would not force the employees to accept VRS.

"It should be optional. But the management is asking some of the employees to take VRS now itself," the union official said.

Last month, the employees staged fast to draw the attention of the Central and state governments to their plight.

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