CHENNAI, India (Reuters) – Global automakers such as Renault-Nissan, Hyundai Motor Co and Ford Motor Co can operate their entire workforce at India’s auto manufacturing hub starting Sunday, despite protests. of workers for safety in the pandemic.
The state of Tamil Nadu, one of the hardest hit in the country, allowed industrial units with export commitments to operate at 100% capacity, boosting its burgeoning auto industry.
New cases in the state have fallen from more than 30,000 a day in May to around 8,000, but they still account for a seventh of all cases in India, which ranks second after the United States in total infections.
“Any company that exports or supplies to export-oriented industries will be able to operate at full capacity as cases decline,” said a senior state government official.
An Indian court this month tasked industrial safety officials with visiting automakers in the southern state to draw up uniform safety guidelines.
The Madras High Court was responding to a case brought last month by workers from the Indian unit of the Franco-Japanese alliance of Renault SA Nissan Motor Co.
They called for operations to be halted, saying that social distancing rules were being violated and that the risk to their lives outweighed the health benefits provided by the company.
Unions of global automakers have written letters of protest, arguing that hundreds of workers at the Chennai auto manufacturing hub have fallen ill with COVID-19 and dozens have died.
Ford and Hyundai also stopped working at their plants last month after workers protested and some went on strike.
(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Edited by William Mallard)
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