Chennai: With hundreds of them in many car units infected with the coronavirus in the second wave, workers want factories to close to break the spread of the Covid-19 chain.
With the Tamil Nadu government classifying auto units as a utility, workers want companies to treat them as frontline Covid-19 workers and pay Rs.50 lakh compensation to the families of deceased workers consequences of a coronavirus.
Calling illogical the classification of automotive units as a continuous processing industry, workers want the Tamil Nadu government to change it.
Some units like India Yamaha Motor and Hyundai Motors India Ltd have already started to close their operations and others have started to close their shutters as well.
Two-wheeler maker Eicher Motors, which deploys Bullet and other motorcycles, has decided to shut down factories near here for three days between May 27 and 29 and restart production on May 31, a Monday.
Eicher Motors has told its employees that the short break will help tame the Covid-19 curve to some extent.
“About 600 workers have tested positive for Covid-19 out of 1,480 workers at the Oragadam plant,” a worker told IANS on condition of anonymity.
According to a worker, the plant’s output has halved due to component supply issues. Normally the production per shift will be around 450-500 units and has dropped to around 250 units per shift.
Regarding the coverage of health costs, the worker said that the company provided 250,000 rupee medical insurance for the family.
“Normally, a two-minute silence will be observed if a company employee dies. Two employees have died from Covid-19, but no silence has been observed as the company has not officially announced the death. “said the worker.
With the Tamil Nadu government stipulating that industries must transport their workers in buses / vans, the company has not made any arrangements for workers who come to work in their two-wheelers, the worker said.
“At the Ford India Private Ltd auto plant near here, more than 200 workers out of around 2,700 workers have been infected with coronavirus and two people have died,” one worker told IANS preferring anonymity.
According to workers, the factory began operations on May 24 after it was closed on May 11.
Prior to that, the plant was shut down between May 1 and May 5 to break the chain of infection, they said.
A Ford India employee said management has asked management to implement social distancing standards such as 50% occupancy on factory buses, a four-meter gap between tables in a canteen , sensor valves and others.
Workers have also called on Ford India to treat them like frontline Covid warriors as they risk their lives during the pandemic period to deploy cars. If they die from Covid-19, their families should receive compensation of Rs.50 lakh.
“The company can take out a life insurance policy or pay out of pocket,” an official at Ford India Union told IANS.
Ford’s India plant near here is rolling out models like EcoSport and Endeavor.
“Management responded to our requests. In turn, they asked us to support the one-shift operation,” added a Ford India Union official.
The company provides its employees two masks per day, unlike many other automotive units which provide cloth masks once every two months.
On Monday, Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (RNITS) warned Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Ltd management that workers would boycott the duty from May 26.
RNITS co-secretary T. Tamizh Kumaran in a letter to management said that if their safety is not ensured at the factory, workers will not come to work.