CHENNAI: Several factories that had been forced to shut shop in automobile hub Chennai after the recent surge in Covid cases, and the resulting worker agitations, resumed operations on Monday.
But, while most workers returned to the factory floor, sources in employee unions say that discussions with company managements continues over safety-related demands for and support for those affected by Covid.
Major manufacturers such as Hyundai Motor India, Ford India, Renault Nissan Automotive India, India Yamaha Motor, and Eicher (which manufactures the Royal Enfield brand of motorcycles) had all suspended operations for varying periods over the past few days.
In many cases, workers’ unions have agitated for a suspension of operations, such as in RNAIPL, where the workers’ union went to court.
On Monday, the bench hearing the case ordered the state labour department to conduct an inspection the factory while asking workers to conduct a dialogue with the management and return to work.
Protests had also been seen at Hyundai and Ford’s facilities before they suspended operations last week.
Except for India Yamaha Motor, which said in a statement that it is resuming operations on June 1, all others named resumed operations on Monday.
According to union sources, Hyundai has ramped down capacity by cancelling one of its three shifts while Ford India has instituted WFH where possible.
In the case of RNAIPL, union leaders said that discussions with the management were still going on and that most workers “have not yet gone back to work”.
However, in a statement, a Nissan spokesperson said, “We were glad to welcome 3,000 employees today to restart production of aftersales and export parts machining, and to finalise preparations for the reopening, which will be done in a phased and gradual manner.”
Government action sought
Ford India union leaders said that Tamil Nadu’s policy of allowing auto plants to function during the lockdown must be revoked, since it was the basis on which the firm was continuing operations.