Nokia's Chennai plant sees 5,000 opting for VRS

Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia on Wednesday claimed that around 5,000 employees at its Chennai plant have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) introduced in the wake of the plant having been excluded from the transfer of assets to Microsoft amid a tax dispute with Indian authorities.

Nokia also said that it is offering financial assistance to those who opted for VRS under its bridge initiative.

''In order to support its employees against the uncertainty arising out of the tax case and the resultant non-transfer of the factory to Microsoft, Nokia had introduced a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for all interested at our Chennai factory in India. As a responsible employer, our effort was to provide a clear financial option, which offered employees the chance to seek new opportunities outside the company based on a firm financial footing,'' a Nokia spokesperson said in a late evening statement.

However, close to 2,500 workers have still not opted for VRS, rather preferring to hang on and await developments, even as the deadline for opting for VRS ended today.

The spokesperson said that while the company had set no target for the VRS in terms of the number of employees, it had 5,000 employees opting for the VRS scheme. ''Additionally, to support the employees that have taken up the VRS package, we also introduced the bridge initiative under which we are offering consultancy services and employment outlook training,'' the spokesperson said. Nokia said in consultations with the Union, it is introducing several new initiatives under the bridge to provide added support to the employees.

It said the company expects to conduct awareness sessions to share insight into over 30 different skill development modules and employment outlook trainings across industries such as garment, automotive, retail, hospitality and beauty care to name a few. It will also certify employees on the skills learnt and will be inviting potential employers with suitable openings. It will be providing limited bridge grants to support entrepreneurial or academic ambitions of employees that have worked with Nokia for six years or more.

The bridge initiative, founded in 2011, is Nokia's extensive support programme for employees affected by changes to Nokia's operations.