Renault-Nissan Workers Move Court to Suspend Operations Amid Covid-19 Fear, Announce Strike From May 26

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Workers at Renault-Nissan’s car plant in southern India will go on strike on Wednesday as their COVID-related safety demands have not been met, a union representing the workers told the company in a letter on Monday. The strike threat at the plant in Tamil Nadu, jointly owned by Nissan Motor and alliance partner Renault, comes ahead of a court hearing over allegations from workers that social distancing norms were being flouted and factory health policies did not sufficiently address the risk to lives.

“Due to unsafe working conditions and as the union demands have not been met … members of this union will not report to work from the first shift on Wednesday,” the union said in a letter dated May 24, reviewed by Reuters. The letter added that workers would not return until they felt safe.

The union represents around 3,500 workers at the plant. Nissan, which owns a majority stake in the plant, declined to comment, saying the matter was in court.

Renault-Nissan told an Indian court last week it rejected claims that COVID-19 safety protocols were being ignored at the factory, adding it needed to continue production to meet orders.

The legal battle highlights the challenges companies face in India amid a huge wave of COVID-19 infections.

Several Hyundai Motor Co employees, fearing for their health, have halted work at the automaker’s plant in Tamil Nadu state and are staging a sit-in protest, two sources at the Hyundai Motor India Employees Union told Reuters.

Hyundai Motor India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not immediately clear how long the protest would continue and the extent of production disruption for Hyundai.

Tamil Nadu is one of the worst hit states of India’s surge in COVID-19 infections, with more than 30,000 cases a day.

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The state, an auto hub known as India’s Detroit, has imposed a lockdown until May 31 but has allowed some factories, including auto plants, to continue operating.

Hyundai’s union told the company on May 15 its workers feared for their lives and should be given fully-paid leave while the state lockdown is in place.

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