The Renault-Nissan management has said it is reviewing the safety protocol and future measures at its Chennai plant in the wake of the protests by the workers over the lack of Covid-related operating procedures. The review will include consideration of what additional measures are required to be introduced as well as an audit on the current procedures.
In a letter to employees, a copy of which was reviewed by FE, Biju Balendran, MD & CEO, Renault Nissan Automotive India (RNAIPL) told said the management will have a dialogue with union representatives to ensure that the highest standards of safety are in place when the plant resumes operations. Renault Nissan Automotive is a joint venture car manufacturing plant of French auto major Renault and Japan’s Nissan Motor Company.
The company had halted the plant operations for five days from May 26 to 30, owing to resentment from workers who put on notice the management warning that they will boycott work if their concerns on Covid-related safety were not addressed.
Allaying fears of the employees, he said that since the start of the outbreak, Nissan has taken all possible measures -on top of those identified by the government- to meet the highest health and safety requirements. In addition, the company has put numerous measures to protect employees, such as social distancing protocol in canteens and work transports, vaccination roll-out for those aged over 45 and the ongoing testing programme. The measures also include arranging hospital beds for staff and securing supplies of oxygen for Nissan staff and dependents who fall sick.
“Together they represent a robust set of measures to maximise the safety of all staff at the plant. However, the Covid situation in and around Chennai remains extremely serious. Therefore, to ensure we maintain the focus on the safety of our employees and the families, as a precaution, a decision has been taken to suspend plant operations temporarily from May 26 to May 30, 2021. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Chennai and Tamil Nadu and come back to you shortly with information on when the plant will restart operation,” Balendran said.
K Balaji Krishnan, president, Renault-Nissan India Thozilalar Sangam (RNITS) told FE that the workers would take a call whether to resume work or not on May 31, based on the improvement the company introduces with regards to Covid-related safety. “As of now, we are okay with the grant of paid leave for five days. The management has offered to continue the dialogue during these days of leave and we will see how things pan out,” he said.
With Covid spread raging, Hyundai Motor India had also been confronted with similar outcry from the workers and the company had decided to temporarily suspend operations at its plant in Tamil Nadu from May 25 to 29, after several workers briefly staged a sit-in protest before resuming work on Monday.
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