The company had suspended operations at the plant for five days from May 26 amid demand from workers to temporarily stop production in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu even as the state government extended the lockdown for another week starting May 24 with more stringent measures. “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 Thozhilalargal Sangam (Employees Union) have come to discuss with the management on further course of action,” a Union source said.
Immediate comments from the company could not be obtained but management sources said while a section of workers has not reported for duty, others have logged their attendance.
Last week, in a letter to the employees, RNAIPL Managing Director and CEO Biju Balendran had said the COVID-19 situation in and around Chennai remained extremely serious and “therefore, to ensure we maintain the focus on the safety of our employees and their families and as a precaution, the decision has been taken to suspend plant operations temporarily from May 26 to May 30.” The factory located about 45 km from here was operating in two shifts and workers were not willing to work in the wake of the pandemic. According to a member who asked not to be identified, the Union had suggested to the management to operate the facility with limited manpower instead of asking all the employees to work at the factory.
The workers are cautious and are unwilling to carry on duties as was done in pre-COVID situation, the source said. Tamil Nadu, which had been reporting higher COVID-19 cases on a daily basis, has begun to see a decline in trend and on Sunday the number of active infections in the state dropped to 3.05 lakh as against the earlier 3.10 lakh, according to a bulletin issued by the health department.