Renault-Nissan wants to resume production operations at its car plant to meet orders amid the COVID-19 second wave and as such, is locked in a legal battle with its workers. The carmaker and workers at its plant in Tamil Nadu have been locked in a legal tussel after workers petitioned a court to halt operations because social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives.
However, Renault-Nissan argued in a court filing, as per Reuters, that there was a “compelling need” to continue operations to fulfill domestic and export orders. It said all COVID-19 norms were being followed. The state government, which is also party to the case, is expected to file a response; the case will be heard at the Madras High Court on Monday.
A top Tamil Nadu state official told Reuters that automobile companies will be allowed to continue operations, but action will be taken against violations of social distancing protocols of any company.
Renault-Nissan’s May 16 court filing highlights that it has pending export orders of 350,000 vehicles for the May-October period. If not fulfilled, it could lead to penalties and loss of business. The carmaker has 45,000 pending domestic bookings for the recently launched Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger cars. The petition points out that the company has always prioritized employee safety and has left no stone unturned to ensure the COVID-19 infection does not spread. “The traveling 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,” it said.
M Moorthy, general secretary of Renault Nissan India workers union which represents all 3,500 permanent factory workers, told Reuters that it is a question of life versus livelihood. “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.”
Tamil Nadu has implemented a full lockdown until May 31 but has allowed some factories, including automobiles to continue operations.