Renault-Nissan and Hyundai face shutdowns in India over workers' COVID fears By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logos of automobile producers Nissan and Renault are pictured at a dealership Kyiv, Ukraine June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

By Sudarshan Varadhan and Aditi Shah

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) -Automakers Renault (PA:), its alliance associate Nissan (OTC:) Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co face short-term manufacturing facility closures in India as a consequence of rising unrest amongst staff involved about rising COVID-19 infections.

Workers at Renault-Nissan’s automobile plant within the southern state of Tamil Nadu will go on strike on Wednesday as a result of their COVID-related security calls for haven’t been met, a union representing the employees informed the corporate in a letter on Monday.

Hyundai mentioned it could droop operations at its plant, additionally in Tamil Nadu, for 5 days beginning Tuesday, after a number of staff staged a quick, sit-in protest on Monday amid rising circumstances within the state.

“The management agreed to close the plant after workers expressed concerns over safety after two employees succumbed to COVID,” E. Muthukumar, president of the Hyundai Motor India Employees Union, informed Reuters.

The unrest highlights the challenges firms face in India amid an enormous wave of COVID-19 infections, an overwhelmed well being system and a scarcity of vaccines which is making staff extra fearful.

Tamil Nadu is among the worst hit states with greater than 30,000 circumstances a day final week. The state, an auto hub often known as India’s Detroit, has imposed a lockdown till May 31 however allowed some factories, together with auto crops, to proceed working.

The strike risk on the Renault-Nissan plant got here forward of a courtroom listening to on Monday over allegations from staff that social distancing norms had been being flouted and manufacturing facility well being insurance policies didn’t sufficiently tackle the chance to lives.

Renault-Nissan has mentioned it’s following COVID-19 security protocols.

At the listening to, a lawyer for the employees argued that whereas the corporate had lowered the variety of shifts, manufacturing numbers had not been reduce and the headcount remained the identical resulting in crowding on the manufacturing facility flooring.

The firm informed the courtroom it had lowered the workforce to round 5,000 from 8,000. It additionally mentioned it had vaccinated staff over 45 and was keen to inoculate these beneath 45 if vaccines had been made accessible.

The two-judge bench presiding over the case mentioned that whereas the well being of staff is paramount, if industries go down there might be no place for them to work. They additionally mentioned the corporate should not make the most of the exemption granted by the state and will cut back manufacturing to satisfy solely obligatory export orders.

“The production should have fallen … You also have to assuage the feeling of the workers,” mentioned the courtroom, which is able to subsequent hear the case on May 31.

The union, which represents about 3,500 staff on the plant, mentioned in its May 24 letter to Renault-Nissan that staff wouldn’t return till they felt protected.

The staff’ calls for embody decrease manufacturing so there’s higher social distancing, vaccinations and better insurance coverage cowl to incorporate medical bills for his or her households.

Nissan, which owns a majority stake within the plant, declined to remark.