The Madras high court on Tuesday ordered the management of Renault-Nissan to strictly enforce the uniform guidelines on social distancing framed by the directorate of industrial safety & health of Tamil Nadu, at its Chennai plant by July 3, while asking the team from the directorate to inspect the factory the same day, to check whether the safety norms have been put in place.
The inspecting team will be entitled to interact with the members of the workmen’s union or the individual workmen for the purpose of assessing whether the guidelines are being adhered to. The directorate of industrial safety will file a further report based on the inspection conducted on July 3, the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.
The bench further directed that the guidelines recommended by the directorate should be followed by all the passenger car manufacturing factories till the lockdown was in place and the conditions imposed by the state were not relaxed.
The court observed that the principal dispute appears to be between the management at Renault-Nissan and its union. The unions pertaining to the other automobile companies have not come up with any grievance.
On the basis of the several demands by the workers at the Renault-Nissan manufacturing facility in Oragadam, the management appealed to the court that a level playing field should be ensured so that the same standards should apply to all automobile manufacturing units without singling out the Renault-Nissan manufacturing facility because of its more vociferous workmen.
Accordingly, directions were issued for personnel from the directorate of industrial safety to visit the automobile manufacturing units on the outskirts of the city and to ensure that uniform guidelines were imposed. Hyundai Motor India Ltd was represented and said its workmen have no grievance regarding the steps taken by the management. Hyundai has also said that it has no difficulty in complying with the guidelines recommended by the director of industrial safety and health.
As regards Renault-Nissan, the principal bone of contention between the management and the workmen has been the maintenance of a pitch ratio of 3:1 in the assembly lines. Such pitch would ensure that after every third car there would be a gap where the fourth car would be meant to arrive on the assembly line so that the workmen got some breathing time.
The management pointed out that the report of the directorate clearly indicates that the maintenance of the pitch ratio of 3:1 in the assembly lines was not effective in ensuring social distancing during the course of work. The management submitted that most of the guidelines recommended were already in place and steps are being taken to ensure that all the guidelines are adhered to by July 3.
On behalf of the workmen at Renault-Nissan, it was submitted that the union should be consulted while preparing job allocations.
The directorate industrial safety & health of Tamil Nadu had on Monday submitted its report to the Madras high court on uniform technical guidelines to enhance the practice of social distancing in the assembly lines of the passenger car manufacturing factories, recommending slowing down of conveyor speed, relocation of jobs to different stations and suitable fencing inside the car units so as to avoid close contact between the workers, among others, in the wake of current pandemic situation.
The directorate was asked by the high court to inspect all other car companies in Tamil Nadu and suggest uniform social distancing norms for automobile makers, in the course of hearing of the case filed by Renualt-Nissan workers’ union against the management on the issue of lack of Covid-related social distancing norms, while conducting operations in the lock-down period.
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