Renault-Nissan fights legal battle with Indian workers on operations amid Covid


In a legal battle with factory workers about operations amid the surge in coronavirus in India, Renault-Nissan has told an Indian court that it needs to continue production at its plants in Tamil Nadu to meet orders. The company rejected claims made by an employee union that the Covid safety protocols were being flouted, as reported by Reuters.

The court tussle began after workers petitioned the Madras High Court to halt operations at the factories of Renault-Nissan because social distancing norms were being flouted and company-provided health benefits were outweighed by the risk to their lives. Responding to this, Renault Nissan said that all Covid-19 norms were being followed at its facilities. It also expressed the “compelling need” to continue operations to fulfil domestic and export orders.

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A Tamil Nadu state official told Reuters that automobile companies will be allowed to continue operations. However, the state will take against flouting of social distancing protocols. “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, was quoted as saying. “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.”

The Nissan factory in Chennai produces Nissan, Renault and Datsun cars and also employees 3,000 contract workers, 2,500 staff members and 700 apprentices. Nissan-Renault India’s court filing from May 16 shows that it has pending export orders of about 35,000 vehicles for the May-October period, which if not fulfilled could lead to penalties and loss of business. The alliance also has 45,000 pending domestic bookings for the recently launched Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger cars.

The company, in its response to petition, has said that it has always prioritised employee safety and “has left no stone unturned” to ensure the infection does not spread.