Nokia trainees accept VRS, but Chennai union up in arms

In a move that will facilitate Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia, the Finnish handset maker struggling to shepherd its Chennai plant into the agreement amid tax disputes in India, has got 736 of its trainees to accept a voluntary separation scheme.

Nokia trainees accept VRS, but Chennai union up in armsThe management is set to extend the offer to its 6,600 permanent employees in India, as the employees' union gears to strike work on Monday.

''We can confirm we have launched a VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) at our Chennai, India facility,'' a Nokia spokesperson said. However, the employees' union has opposed the move.

The employees plan to go in for a Japanese-style strike on Monday. Some 5,200 employees will forego their free lunch and snacks given by the company, and also work during the break to register their protest against the VRS scheme.

''As of now, the protest is only for Monday. Our next course of action - including the decision to continue will be made after the management's response,'' Saravana Kumar, president of Nokia Employees Union, said.

Nokia is involved in an income tax dispute with the central government and a sales tax dispute with the Tamil Nadu government.

The disputes and the sale of Nokia to Microsoft have increased apprehension among workers that the VRS would be mandatory, though the company maintained that it was optional.

''We have set no target for the VRS in terms of the number of employees,'' the Nokia spokesperson said.