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Nokia's IR Triumph

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Even as industrial relations worsen at the various manufacturing facilities in the country, the Nokia offer to disengage has come as a whiff of fresh air.

The Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) offered by Nokia for the employees of its handset manufacturing plant at Sriperumbudur plant near Chennai is surprisingly refreshing.

According to the scheme offered by Nokia to its employees, those opting for VRS will get 3 months' salary for every year’s experience. This means an employee with 5 years' experience would get compensation including 15-month’s salary. A worker would get Rs 1 lakh each as compensation and double the daily salary for the earned leave surrendered.

The company has also introduced a bridge initiative which includes consultancy services and employment outlook training - a concept practiced in the west. Workers would also be trained in 30 skill development modules and employment outlook training schemes across sectors.

Puneet Rathi Head Advisory & Knowledge, Society for Human Resource Management, says “this is perhaps for the first  time that consultancy is being provided at the workers’ level. Normally such things are provided to people and managerial level. So this is by far the best practice by any Indian employer”

India has witnessed repeated mass protests and violent clashes between workers and management since the economic recession in 2008.

Companies like Kingfisher Airlines and Maruti have faced flak for not only ignoring the interests of their employees but also manhandling them, leading to violence and casualty. The fact that as many as 5,000 people out of a workforce of 6,700 employees have opted for the VRS scheme within a month, speaks volumes of the way the Nokia management has dealt with the issue.

However, there have also been accusations that the company’s management is forcing people to opt for the VRS by asking them to review their decision in case they have rejected the offer.