The deadly Covid-19 virus has forced more than half a dozen automotive manufacturing plants, that make cars, bikes, trucks and earthmovers, in Maharashtra to shutdown operations till March 31.
The need for closure of establishments was also called for by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), which recommended all vehicle manufacturers and component manufacturers to consider plant shutdowns to overcome this critical period.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), together with Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited (FIAPL) – FCA’s joint venture manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon – announced today that it will work with the government to temporarily close down operations and suspend production.
The temporary suspension, which will be in effect until March 31, 2020, is in response to the increasing spread of coronavirus in Maharashtra, particularly in Pune. More than two dozen COVID-19 positive cases have been reported from the twin cities of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Tata Motors, which has the biggest production base among automotive companies in Maharashtra, was the first company to announce a shutdown followed by Bajaj Auto. Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz also shut down its assembly factory located at Chakan, Pune.
"Due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz India has decided to suspend the majority of production at its manufacturing facility located in Chakan as well as work in selected administrative departments, for an initial period starting 21st March to 31st March. Mercedes-Benz India’s leadership team is constantly evaluating the situation and will decide on further measures as required. Full operations will be resumed when the situation improves", a statement from Mercedes-Benz India said.
German automotive giant Volkswagen has been shut since the past few weeks and this has been extended till March 31. Force Motors, the maker of mini buses, announced on March 21 that all manufacturing operations at its Akrudi, Pune plant will be shut till March 31.
Construction equipment giant JCB has also shut down its excavator manufacturing facility at Chakan till March 31.
“FIAPL had already implemented increased sanitary processes coupled with improvements to protect employee safety, including thermal screening and extra buses for the work commute, ensuring social distancing. During this closure period, the Ranjangaon plant will also undertake intensified cleaning and sanitisation, including total fumigation to ensure a safe return for employees”, said a statement from Fiat.
No automotive company so far has announced any retrenchment or cut back on salaries to the employees during the period.
“There will be no retrenchment of any plant employees as a result of the plant closure and all will continue to receive their salaries during this closure period”, Fiat added.
A directive from the Maharashtra government mandated a near-shutdown of the state to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Private establishments have been asked to stay shut even as government offices and services will run at 25 percent of its full strength.
Suburban train services in Mumbai, that constitute more than half of the public transport, will not allow people belonging to non-essential services to board trains till March 31.