Following a lunchtime sit-in protest on Thursday staged by the workers of its car plant in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, Ford Motor Co said it will halt production at the facility. The workers have been protesting to get leave and health benefits in the wake of a massive and deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the country.
Production at the factory was to be stopped at the Chennai facility Friday and Saturday, said that automaker said in a statement and added that it continues to engage with the union on other health and safety demands.
“The safety of our workforce remains our topmost priority,” a Ford India spokesman said and added that plant had previously been shut down from May 14-May 22 due to such demands from the workers.
There has been discontent and reluctance among factory employees to work amid a surge in virus infections in the southern state of which the sit-in protest was the latest incident. The Southern Indian state is home to the flourishing automobile industry in India.
Following 230 workers being infected the virus, concerns were expressed by the Chennai Ford Employees Union on Wednesday in a letter to management.
“The company should pay all medical expenses of workers affected by the coronavirus,” the union said in Wednesday’s letter, according to reports which also urged the management to shut down the plant until the lockdown restrictions were removed by the local state government.
The trade union and sought compensation of 10 million rupees ($137,890) each for the families of two workers who died of the virus. According to reports, the trade union is still discussing the matter and its demands with the company.
Earlier this week, production was halted at their factories in Tamil Nadu by South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co and France’s Renault, as well as its alliance partner Nissan Motor Co.
In the second devastating wave of infections, Tamil Nadu is one of the worst hit states and has been reporting more than 30,000 fresh cases of Covid-19 a day. The local government had exempt from the lockdown the factories that make automobiles, among others.
There are two factories of Ford in India were it manufactures models to meet domestic and export demands.
The EcoSport and Endeavour sport-utility vehicles are made at the Tamil Nadu facility which has an annual production capacity of 200,000 cars. The other factory of the company is located in the western Indian state of Gujarat which has a production capacity of 240,000 cars a year.
(Adapted from DeccanChronicle.com)