Madras High Court has directed Tamil Nadu government to designate a senior official of the Directorate of Industrial Safety by Tuesday to investigate whether COVID-19 protocols were followed at the automaker Renault-Nissan's plant in the state.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the workers union of the plant. The PIL challenged a State Revenue and Disaster Management order dated May 8 which permitted the carmaker to start work at the factory provided COVID-related protocols were followed.
Workers asserted in this petition the employer cannot avail of lockdown exemptions without complying with COVID-19 protocol particularly social distancing. They further mentioned that following social distancing is not feasible due to the production procedures, especially in the assembly line.
The bench stated the social distancing norms should be followed without exception and the management and workers need to arrive at a solution for the same during the week. It added that the management or workmen can request the government official concerned to mediate between the two sides if necessary.
Employer should indicate the number of workmen affected including those hospitalised and those at home, the bench mentioned. The court also hoped for an amicable resolution to be reported when the matter is heard on Friday.
Operations at the Chennai plant of Renault-Nissan have been impacted as many workers were not reporting for work citing the second COVID-19 wave. The company had suspended operations at the plant for five days from May 26 citing demands from workers to temporarily stop production in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state.
A Union source told news agency PTI, "Today, many of us, out of the 8,000 employees here at the plant, including contract labourers, are staying away from work."
Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with PTI inputs
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