Renault and Nissan's vehicle manufacturing plant in Chennai will resume operations soon after the carmaker assured a reopening of the facility in a phased manner. This is the first official reaction from the Renault-Nissan Alliance facing protests from workers for the past few days. The reaction has come after the Madras High Court decided to step in and order an inspection of the facility.
The high court had to step in after workers complained that Covid-19 protocols, like social distancing, were not maintained even as they were asked to work during the lockdown imposed across the state. On Monday, the Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to send senior officials to the Renault Nissan Automotive India Pvt Ltd (RNAIPL) plant to check if Covid protocols are being followed during work hours.
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The French-Japanese carmaker alliance has assured full cooperation during the inspection ordered by the high court. The company issued a statement late last night, which said, "Nissan welcomes the Hon'ble Court's decision and the positive outcome of the joint inspection of our plant with RNITS earlier today; we look forward to cooperating with the State Government of Tamil Nadu during the inspection planned for tomorrow."
The court order came after the workers union, Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (RNITS) had filed a public interest writ petition which challenged the order issued by the state's Revenue and Disaster Management permitting the company to start work at the factory subject to certain protocol conditions.
The Renault-Nissan plant has been shut since Wednesday after protests by workers demanding better medical facility and improved working condition amid Covid-19 crisis. The facility was scheduled to resume operations on Monday. However, several workers decided to stay off after the workers' union sent a letter to the management saying that it is not secure for workers to report to work yet. According to insiders, the union had suggested that the facility should operate with limited manpower.
"Today, many of us, out of the 8,000 employees here at the plant, including contract labourers, are staying away from work. Only the office bearers of the Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (Employees Union) have come to discuss with the management on further course of action," a workers' union source was quoted by news agency PTI.
"We were glad to welcome 3,000 employees today to restart production of after-sales and export parts machining, and to finalise preparations for the reopening, which will be done in a phased and gradual manner," said Nissan in its statement. It added that the company "continues to hold the safety and well-being of employees at the heart of our operations, and will keep adding extra measures to ensure a safe environment that extends beyond our employees to include their families and the community, as we closely and strictly monitor developments".
(With inputs from agencies)