Legal Battle Between Renault-Nissan And Employees Over Production During Covid-19 Surge

Demand of an employee union of Renault-Nissan in India of discontinuing working at the company’s factory because of ignoring of Covid-19 safety protocols was reject in an Indian court by the company arguing that it needed to continue production at its car plant to meet orders, showed legal documents according to reports.

A legal tussle is ongoing between Renault-Nissan India and employees at one of the company’s plants in the southern state of Tamil Nadu over demands by the workers to halt production because social distancing norms were not being followed at the workplace and the risks to the lives of the workers outweighed the health benefits that the company was providing.

According to reports based on the legal documents, Renault-Nissan has argued that it felt a “compelling need” to continue operations so that it could fulfil orders – both international and domestic. The company assured that all Covid-19 norms were being followed at the factory.

The case will next be heard on Monday at the Madras High Court when the state government, which is also party to the case, is expected to file its response.

While automobile companies will be allowed to continue operations¸ the government will take actions against companies that do not follow Covid-19 social distancing norms, a top Tamil Nadu state official reportedly told the media on Sunday.

This legal battle underscores the challenges faced by big companies operating in India because of increased concerns among employees over their health and safety because of the pandemic. India is currently undergoing a very severe second wave of the pandemic.

“It is a question of life versus livelihood,” M Moorthy, general secretary of Renault Nissan India workers union which represents all 3,500 permanent factory workers, told the media. “We just want social distancing protocols to be followed and the management to be responsible for any risks to the workers or their family members.”

3,000 contract workers, 2,500 staff members and 700 apprentices also work at the company’s factory that makes Nissan, Renault and Datsun cars.

There was no comment on the issue from Nissan which is the majority stake holder in the Renault-Nissan India plant.

The current pandemic wave has severely hit the state of Tamil Nadu which is reporting more than 30,000 fresh cases of Covid-19i infections each day.

A full lockdown until May 31 has been imposed in this south Indian state which is an auto hub and has been dubbed as India’s “Detroit”. The government has however allowed some factories, including automobiles, to continue operating.

Renault-Nissan India has told the court in its document that its pending orders included about 35,000 vehicles for the May-October period which the company needs to fulfil in order to avoid penalties and loss of business. The company also has to complete pending domestic bookings for about 45,000 cars of the recently launched Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger models.

Employee safety has been the priority of the copany and “has left no stone unturned” to ensure there is no spread of Covid-19 infections, showed the petition of the company.

“The travelling public consider private vehicles as a safe mode of travel … there is a compelling need for the state to ensure the continued operations of the automobile manufacturers,” the petition said

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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