As the fate of 900+ Nokia workers hangs in limbo after the Sriperumbudur Nokia Plant shuts its production today, Ilanthamizhagam, a IT workers movement which has been organizing IT workers in Tamil Nadu, have started a multipronged campaign to highlight the plight of the formal sector workers in the globalized industrialization that is still considered as the path to India’s economic progress. Nokia SEZ which was started in 1996 with tax and other subsidies, employed thousands of workers and produced millions of phones out of the Sriperumbudur SEZ factory. However with Nokia’s decline in market share of mobiles and tax evasions, the Nokia factory has been reducing the production and its work force. From January of this year, thousands of contract workers were silently let go and majority of the 5000+ permanent work force were forced to take voluntary retirement scheme. With Microsoft who has acquired the Nokia’s mobile business, having stopped the production of low cost mobile business concentrating only on smart phones, Nokia has announced that it will shut down the production in its Sriperumbudur factory after today. The fate of the 900+ permanent work force which has refused to take VRS is now uncertain.
Ilanthamizhagam has questioned the neo liberal economic policies which has created new forms of exploitations and uncertain work and life conditions for thousands of young men and women and state policies which encouraged these youth to accept such conditions. Forced to take VRS in a young age of 25+ with no recourse for alternate employment has jeopardized the lives of thousands of workers. Ilanthamizhagam has demanded alternate employment for the workers, confiscation of Nokia’s assets and implementation of strict labour laws. The movement has decided to highlight the myth of neo liberal economic progress on the eve of the Nokia closure by distributing pamphlets to IT workers in the OMR corridor. The movement also plans to initiate street corner meetings and discussions on this issue.