Renault and Nissan will breathe easy after the Madras High Court allowed the two carmakers to continue their production at the Chennai facility in Tamil Nadu. The court's nod came after a week-long standoff between the carmakers and the workers' union over working condition at the facility amid the lockdown due to Covid-19 and medical facilities for the employees.
Trouble began for the alliance of French and Japanese auto majors late last month when the workers' union Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (RNITS) raised objection over lack of Covid-19 protocol, like proper social distancing norms, at the facility as production continued unabated despite lockdown restrictions in the state.
The stand-off, however, seemed have ended after Renault and Nissan reached an understanding with the workers' union at its Chennai manufacturing facility. The two sides signed an interim deal to end the standoff that began last month.
The Madras High Court has allowed Renault and Nissan to continue with production at its facility, but has set some conditions. The high court's nod came with a rider to follow pandemic related norms.
The court has also passed interim orders on a petition filed by workers' union at the Renault-Nissan facility which raised concerns over safety and challenged a government notification that allowed exemption for the carmakers to continue production even during the lockdown.
On the high court's order, a senior state government official conducted an audit of the facility and submitted a report. The high court said that the report included several additional measures that need to be taken up to make the facility Covid-19 protocol compliant.
"In the light of the immediate changes brought about at the manufacturing facility at the suggestion of the government officials, it appears that the management has shown sufficient concern for the safety and health of the workmen and that there would be no dropping of the guard as far as safety measures are concerned," the court observed.
Reacting to the order, Nissan has assured all directives will be followed while resuming operations. A Nissan spokesperson said, "We carefully resumed operations of the plant earlier this week, after a brief pause due to the challenges posed by the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in India, with an even more vigorous and transparent people first approach that holds their health and safety paramount to our operations. We have already implemented changes in one of the production lines, as per previous agreements regarding employee safety with the union, and will be cascading them across a second production line at the earliest, while also acting on the recommendations of the state government following recent inspections."
The plant currently has over 8,000 workers manufacturing vehicles for both the carmakers simultaneously. So far, four of the workers at this facility have died, while more than 400 others tested positive this year.