The Madras High Court on Monday directed the state government to inspect whether the Chennai factory of Renault Nissan Automotive India (RNAIPL) had Covid-19-related safety protocols in place. The court ordered that a senior government official related to industrial safety should carry out the inspection. The company has been asked to submit the number of workers suffering from Covid virus and how many of them are in hospital and home isolation. Meanwhile, the workers were also asked to resume work from Tuesday. The court’s direction to the employees came on a day when the company resumed operations at its plant after suspending it for five days starting May 26. However, on Monday operations at the plant were partly affected as a section of employees did not report for work citing lack of Covid-related safety protocols.
As reported earlier, the Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (RNITS) had moved the high court against the Tamil Nadu government and the company, challenging the state government’s classification of such units as a continuous process industries, which enabled automobile manufacturers to continue with operations during the lockdown period. The union alleged that the company had not put in place sufficient safety protocols.
The company management, while refuting such allegations, said it is reviewing the safety protocols and future measures at the plant in the wake of the protests by the workers, in consultation with the union. It had earlier said that the review will include consideration of what additional measures are required to be introduced as well as an audit of the current procedures. The union had complained there was no supervision at the factory by any government official, either from the Directorate of Industrial Safety or appropriate authorities under the Factories Act and that the company was flouting all Covid safety norms.
On Monday, the union decided not to report for duty alleging that they still fear for their life as social distancing norms have not been put in place as demanded by them. In a statement, RNITS said its executive committee considered the apprehension of workers about their safety in a virtual meeting on Sunday and decided against resuming work. According to the union, the company management was not inclined to reduce production by cutting down the footfalls to maintain social distance inside the plant.
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