French auto giant Renault and Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor have decided to hit a pause at their Tamil Nadu facility after employees protested against entering the facility amid strict lockdown due to Covid-19 crisis.
The Renault-Nissan manufacturing facility, located near Chennai, will now remain shut till the end of this week (May 30). The state government is likely to consider unlocking from next week as Covid-19 cases have begun dropping across the state.
This is the same facility where the carmakers produce their flagship vehicles like Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger SUVs among others.
The decision taken by the two auto manufacturers come at a time when they were threatened with strike by the workers' union over safety concerns amid the pandemic. An email shared by Biju Balendran, Chief Executive at Renault-Nissan India, with the company's employees was accessed by news agency Reuters. The email said the plant will be shut from May 26 to May 30 to ensure safety amid rising Covid-19 cases.
"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," read the note shared by Balendran with employees.
Earlier, the workers' union at Renault-Nissan's Tamil Nadu facility had warned of a strike from today if their Covid-related safety demands were not met. They had demanded better social distancing measures, vaccinations and higher insurance cover to include medical expenses for their families.
While Nissan did not issue any official communication, Balendran's email mentions that the company is in talks with union representatives to ensure safety. "This will include careful consideration of what additional measures we may need to introduce, as well as an audit of current procedures," he said.
(Also read: Hyundai shuts down Chennai plant over Covid fear among workers)
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.
Earlier this week, Hyundai had also suspended its operations at its Tamil Nadu plant till May 30 after facing protests from several workers amid rising Covid-19 cases. Hyundai said the decision was taken as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of its employees.