Bajaj Auto NOT to shut unit even after 250 workers tested COVID-19 Positive
Workers at Bajaj Auto, India’s biggest exporter of motorbikes, are demanding the temporary closure of one of its plants after 250 employees there tested positive for COVID-19, its unions said on Saturday.
But the Bajaj Auto Management and Unions were unable to reach an agreement on whether the operations should be suspended to contain the spread of the infection.
The unions demanded temporary closure of one of the company’s plants at Waluj in Aurangabad district.
According to a recent ET report, A union leader, Thengade Bajirao said, about 250 people had tested positive for Covid-19 at the plant and about 800 people were quarantined till the end of June. Six employees have succumbed to the disease, he said.
“People are scared to come to work. Some are still coming but some are taking leave,” said Thengade Bajirao, president of the Bajaj Auto Workers’ Union.
The company said on June 26 that 140 of the roughly 8,000 staff at the factory had caught the virus and two had died. It said work there would not be stopped, however, as the company wanted to learn to “live with the virus”.
“We requested the company to temporarily close the plant for 10-15 days to break the cycle but they said there is no point as people will continue to gather for social events outside of work,” the Bajaj union’s Bajirao said.
For every employee testing positive, four who work close to them have to be quarantined, affecting productivity, he said.
With an annual production capacity of over 3.3 million motorbikes and other vehicles, the Waluj plant accounts for more than 50% of Bajaj’s manufacturing volume in India.
Workers and union leaders say Bajaj has taken steps to ensure social distancing on the factory floor and in its cafeteria, besides arranging separated seating on its buses and providing masks and sanitisers for staff. But they say this is not enough.
“On the assembly line, multiple people touch the same engine. We were wearing gloves but still caught the virus,” said one worker who was in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
An official in Aurangabad district, overseeing the Waluj area where the plant is located, said the number of cases had now gone up to more than 250.
Bajaj Auto did not respond to media requests for comment. We will update you with further developments.