GM union wants new offer as dispute goes into mediation

General Motors Employees’ Union wants the management to abide by its promise of offering the best VSS to affected employees in India, and has refused to accept the 2021 offer

Alisha Sachdev
Updated28 Feb 2023, 12:01 AM IST
General Motors will continue to provide service centre support along with 24/7 contact centre and roadside assistance for Chevrolet owners. Photo: Bloomberg
General Motors will continue to provide service centre support along with 24/7 contact centre and roadside assistance for Chevrolet owners. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: A Pune court last week ordered US automaker General Motors and its 1,100-member workers’ union to mediate in their ongoing dispute about voluntary separation. However, while union officials said it may result in a stalemate if GM doesn’t revise the separation package, the company said it has offered an average pay-out equalling 3.5 years of salary after taxes to retrenched employees in the middle of 2021.

General Motors Employees’ Union wants the management to abide by its promise of offering the best voluntary separation scheme (VSS) to affected employees in India, and has refused to accept the 2021 offer. However, if the company substantially revises the offer, the union will discuss it with its members to form a consensus, said Sandeep Bhegade, president of General Motors Employees’ Union.

GM has been trying to reach the union to work out the terms of separation, even as it continues to scout for buyers for its 300-acre factory at Talegaon near Pune in Maharashtra, a GM spokesperson said. The union has said it will protest against any sale without a labour transfer agreement.

Members of the union believe the company is exploring a deal with a South Korean carmaker to buy the factory. Neither GM nor the South Korean carmaker have confirmed whether such a development has taken place.

“We went into this mediation really focused on showing up with good intent to reaching out (to the Union). We are also heartened that an independent mediator is overseeing these discussions, so they can look at positions at each side and form a view. How bona fide our position is in terms of the separation package is well proven”, George Svigoss, executive director, corporate affairs, GM, said adding, “We have sought constructive discussion over this package for over two years. We are in mediation not because we haven’t put forward a package - we wanted an outcome all along the way. We’ve also made very clear from the start that any sale of the site does not include transfer of employees”.“We continue to explore options for sale. We think (the factory) is state-of-the start and has strong supply chain and transport linkages around it. We can’t respond to discussions around potentially interested parties, but we are continuing to explore our options,” said Svigos.

The employees’ union and GM are locked in multiple lawsuits in industrial courts in Maharashtra, as well as in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. According to the union, the decision to go into a mediation was taken by GM alone.

Mint had earlier reported that potential suitors such as Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors are unlikely to take over the plant if GM India’s more than 1,000-strong unionized workers become a non-negotiable part of the deal.

Mahindra has recently announced plans to set up a 10,000 crore greenfield EV manufacturing unit in Pune, instead of buying into the GM facility.

The union and management have been locked in a legal battle for more than two years, as the former has demanded employment with the new owners of the plant, and full wages in the interim.

The union has termed their retrenchment illegal, even as GM has previously argued it had held extensive negotiations with the union to arrive at a consensus.GM stopped vehicle production at the Talegaon plant in 2020.

The company has already sold its Halol factory in Gujarat to MG Motor India, a unit of China’s SAIC Motor.

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First Published:28 Feb 2023, 12:01 AM IST
HomeCompaniesNewsGM union wants new offer as dispute goes into mediation

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