Automakers toughen measures to safeguard workforce amid Covid-19 surge
As the second wave of Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the country, leading automobile companies have initiated various steps to safeguard their workforce from the highly infectious disease. With a spike in the number of cases, companies like Maruti Suzuki, MG Motor, Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India have already announced temporary suspension of production work at their respective manufacturing facilities to break the transmission chain.
Others, who are still manufacturing, are taking multiple precautions like cutting down on the production by reducing the number of people in the factories as well undertaking various welfare schemes. The country's largest automobile company Tata Motors told PTI that the company remains vigilant about the evolving Co situation and has scaled up efforts to enhance the well-being of its personnel and its business as well as supporting the ecosystem. Keeping employee safety foremost, standard operating procedures have been updated for the prevailing second wave with the focus on expediting vaccinations, providing support to affected employees and their family members, the company said.
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“We are running operations in strict compliance with guidelines issued by relevant authorities across all our plants. A limited number of employees are attending duties adhering to all safety protocols, distancing norms and hygiene standards," it added. In addition to mandated testing, screening at plant gates is robust and if a symptomatic case is identified, the company ensures that the employee is isolated and provided with all support for quarantine and contact tracing thereafter, Tata Motors said. “Our medical teams have also begun vaccination drives in our plants by collaborating with local health authorities, for eligible employees," it noted.
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The Mumbai-based firm has also set in motion a business plan to protect and serve the interests of its customers, dealers and suppliers as the lockdowns enforced in various parts of the country are expected to impact vehicle demand temporarily. The automakers have been forced to initiate measures as India continues to witness a tsunami of coronavirus cases. On Saturday, the country reported over 4 lakh new infections in the last 24 hours. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) said it is extending support to employees to benefit from the nation-wide vaccination programme.
“The company will bear the cost of inoculation for our employees and their spouse, eligible as per the government guidelines. To further facilitate this on priority, we have partnered with hospitals at various locations," M&M Human Resources Officer (Automotive and Farm sectors) Rajeshwar Tripathi noted. So far, more than 90 per cent of the eligible workforce, including temporary and contractual employees, above the age of 45 years has been vaccinated, he added. "We have also established company maintained quarantine centres for our associates at hotspots like Mumbai and Pune and we are providing for complete medical assistance where required, in collaboration with hospitals at all locations," Tripathi said. Toyota Kirloskar Motor, which has already undertaken scheduled annual maintenance programme across both its plants from April 26 to May 14, noted that the company has set standard processes of disinfecting workplace and common areas on daily basis ensuring safety at all times.
“At our plant facility, only a limited number of employees as permissible by the rules of social distancing & other mandatory guidelines are engaged in essential jobs and activities by following stringent safety rules," the spokesperson noted. Besides, a COVID Vaccination Centre (CVC) has been set up at both the manufacturing plants for a seamless vaccination programme, the spokesperson said. “Beyond our workforce, to support a wider range of local communities in their fight against COVID, we are looking to extend the support for establishing a CVC in Bidadi Industrial Area for Toyota Group companies, suppliers and neighboring industries," the spokesperson added.
MG Motor has also temporarily suspended work at its Halol plant in Gujarat. It however noted that its service centres are currently operating with minimal staff while catering to the requirements of its customers. The carmaker is also providing free vaccination to its employees and is focused on facilitating the same to its dealerships. It is also encouraging its dealers to provide insurance to their staff. Last week Maruti Suzuki India advanced maintenance shutdown at its two Haryana-based manufacturing plants by a month. The announcement came a day after the auto major acknowledged that there were 1,280 active cases of the virus among its 30,000 strong workforce.
MSI was supposed to take the shutdown at its two plants in Gurgaon and Manesar in June but due to the spike of Covid-19 cases, it has decided to take it one month earlier from May 1-9 in order to save oxygen for medical needs. India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7; 30 lakh on August 23; 40 lakh on September 5; and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28; 70 lakh on October 11; crossed 80 lakh on October 29; 90 lakh on November 20; and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. The country crossed the grim milestone of 1.50 crore on April 19 this year.