Renault-Nissan And Hyundai India Suspend Plant Operations Over Worker’s Covid Fears

Both Renault-Nissan and Hyundai India have their plants in Tamil Nadu, a state worst hit by the pandemic

Two auto majors- Hyundai India and Renault Nissan are facing temporary shutdown of their plants, owing to COVID 19 fears from their workforce. Tamil Nadu is among the worst-hit states by the pandemic and had had more than 30,000 cases a day last week. The lockdown imposed by the state government is currently in play here. However, some factories and manufacturing facilities are exempted from this, including the automotive plants. This has essentially put the workforce here at higher risks.

Renault Nissan Plant: No Shutdown, But Strike!

The Renault Nissan production facility in Chennai was recently involved in a court battle following complaints from an employee union, accusing of negligence in adhering to proper safety protocols including social distancing and continuing plant operations during the Covid surge. These measures had apparently put the lives of their workers at risks.

The manufacturer, however, tackled this by filing a ‘not-so-public’ argument explaining the existence of a ‘compelling need’ to continue plant operations to facilitate domestic deliveries and exports during these difficult times. It had also claimed the production facility to be strictly adhering to the COVID guidelines.

Following these, a later media statement by a high-ranking Tamil Nadu state official announced the TN government’s permission for all the automotive plants to continue their operations and also said the violations to any of the COVID protocols by any manufacturer will be dealt with seriously.

The entire facility has a considerably large workforce (probably over 6000) spread across the Renault, Nissan and Datsun divisions. With the worsening conditions in TN, this is more of a life or death question for the workers. Thus, on Monday, the ‘3500-heads strong’ workers union had announced to go on strike on Wednesday if the plant operations were to not be suspended for the time being.

Nissan, the major stakeholder in this facility, has refused to comment on the matter. Going by the previous statements made, the auto major is insisting on continuing the production to meet the demands. The demands for the alliance’s mass-market products- Kiger and Magnite are booming in the country and the waiting period is soaring with equal vigor. At present, one has to wait as many as 9 months for getting his Magnite delivered and a good 6 months for the Kiger! At the time of compiling this story, the workforce strike is obvious and scheduled for May 26, Wednesday.

Hyundai India Plant Chennai

Hyundai India Announces 5 Days Plant Shutdown

Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) is the country’s largest carmaker with very high demands for many of its models. Hyundai has its plant near Chennai and is facing a similar crisis as Renault Nissan now, except for the fact that they have bothered to address the grievances and announce a temporary plant shutdown.

The stir at the Hyundai facility had started after around 300 of the employees there tested positive. Many of these cases were reported during the state-imposed lockdown. An insider even confirms that 7-8 employees have even lost their lives in the past few days. This has, as obvious is the case, set the remaining workforce in panic and distress.

The workforce here had reportedly been requesting the authorities to suspend operations for the past 5 days. On Monday, however, the first shift workers refused to work and put up what could be called a sit-in protest, before resuming their work for the rest of the day. Hyundai has now announced a 5-day shutdown to the plant, following this strike-threat from its labour force.

Hyundai was running three shifts with a total of around 2000 employees. In the recent past, the production here was almost in full swing amidst the pandemic, owing to strong customer demands for their products. Just to give you a glimpse of the same, the Hyundai Creta waiting period currently is around 9 months!

Image Source: Pbhattiprolu | Wikimedia commons