In March we detailed a report that suggested Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia hit a major speed bump in India, where a court has rejected a bid to turn over one of Nokia’s factories to Microsoft. Part of that was related to a large tax debt that India argues Nokia owes the country, and which it has so far declined to pay. Now, thousands of factory workers in India are threatening strikes and holding protests in an effort to keep their jobs, The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.
The news outlet said that as many as 4,000 workers — of 8,000 total who work at the plant — participated in the protests and some are on a hunger strike. The president of Nokia’s trade union M. Saravanakumar told The Wall Street Journal that union members fear losing their jobs if Microsoft moves ahead with its acquisition of Nokia, but without the factory.
Nokia could potentially walk away from the alleged debt — leaving the workers without jobs — or Microsoft could “contract” the factory instead of acquiring it outright, unless a deal with the government is reached. A Nokia spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that its assets were frozen in India in September of last year and it has since remained in constant contact with factory employee groups.
So far the plant’s future remains a big question. Nokia has made an offer that it believes is fair, and it’s one that will let its employees in India transfer to Microsoft — that’s one reason they’re protesting against the government, because Nokia has already agreed to let everyone keep their jobs if the government just gives a nod of approval. “Nokia regrets the anxiety this extended legal process has caused its employees,” the company said last month.