By Venkatachari JagannathanChennai, May 24 : Unless their safety is ensured at the plant, workers of the Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Ltd have decided to boycott duty from May 26 onwards, the Renault Nissan India Thozhilalar Sangam (RNITS) has said.
The RNITS or the Renault Nissan workers union has put the company management on notice on Monday in a letter by its Joint Secretary T.Tamizh Kumaran.
Citing the Madras High Court order which states steps to be take to reduce the footfall in office and factory RNITS said the company has not taken any steps to reduce the footfall in the company’s plant to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Renault Nissan Automotive is a joint venture car manufacturing plant of French auto major Renault and Japan’s Nissan Motor Company.
In his letter Kumaran also said the company management does not consult the worker’s union on any matter and has been taking decisions unilaterally and want to use the union as its loudspeaker.
“Five workers have died and about 850 have been infected with coronavirus at Renault Nissan Automotive since last year,” K.Balaji Krishnan, President RITS told IANS.
He also said in 2021 alone about 420 employees have tested Covid-19 positive.
“All our workers are young and they are dying.There is no social distance maintained at the factory.We had suggested reducing the number of cars produced per hour.
This in turn would reduce the number of workers per workstation.But the management didn’t agree,” Krishnan.
There are about 8,550 workers/staff/apprentices/contract labour (about 3,547 technicians/workers, about 2,000 staff, about 2,000 contract workers and about 1,000 apprentices) employed at the Renault Nissan Automotive plant near here.
If one takes into account the family members of the workers and those working in the vendor companies then the total number of persons at risk will run into a couple of lakhs.
According to Krishnan, the Union had requested the factory to be closed till the workers are vaccinated or the demand for beds at the hospitals come down.
Though the automobile and the component makers did not function during the March 2020 lockdown, they are allowed to operate with the state government bringing them under the continuous process industries.
A worker said the paint shop and the foundry is classified as a continuous process and hence the automobile factories are classified as a continuous process industry.
“The paint shop and the foundry can be kept alive without production happening.But the companies are agreeable for that,” industry workers told IANS.
Krishnan said the Tamil Nadu government’s order classifying automobile manufacturers as Public Utility Service ended this February.
According to Krishnan, Renault Nissan Automotive has taken out an insurance policy covering Covid-19 for a value of Rs 1,00,000 per worker and not their dependents.
“There is the usual health insurance cover for Rs 2,00,000 for workers and their dependents but the coverage is insufficient as the hospital expenses incurred for Covid-19 are very high,” Krishnan added.
The union has filed a case in the Madras High Court against the Tamil Nadu Government and Renault Nissan Automotive challenging the former’s order classifying the units that are continuous process industries.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected]