Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expanding its production shutdowns in Europe as the turmoil caused by the coronavirus continues to spread.
The two-week shutdown, which includes the European plant that makes the Jeep Renegade, affects FCA Italy and Maserati, which will suspend production across most of its European plants, according to a corporate announcement Monday.
“In particular, the suspension of production is being facilitated to enable the group to be ready to commence production promptly once market conditions allow,” the company said.
The shutdown affects Melfi (Renegade is assembled there), G. Vico (Pomigliano), Cassino, Mirafiori Carrozzerie, Grugliasco, and Modena in Italy; Kragujevac in Serbia; and Tychy in Poland.
The shutdown through March 27 is an expansion of earlier announcements about temporary closures in Europe and an apparent acknowledgment of the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak, especially in Italy. It comes as FCA’s planned merger partner, Peugeot-maker PSA Groupe, announces a similar European shutdown of its operations.
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The company is part of a coronavirus task force with Ford, General Motors and the UAW in the United States seeking to better protect production workers.
But worker concerns might be rising regardless.
At the Warren Truck Assembly on Monday, 17 employees in the paint shop stopped working over worries about the virus, according to an FCA statement, which said plant production was not affected and paint shop operations had resumed.
“There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and are taking all necessary precautions to safeguard the health and welfare of our workforce,” the company said.
That followed issues in Canada last week. The Windsor Assembly Plant shut down for about a day last week after employees at the plant, which makes the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, refused to work over concerns about the virus. The company said there were no confirmed cases of the virus at the plant but that a worker was out on self-quarantine because of possible secondary contact.
In its announcement about its European operations, FCA stressed its efforts to be proactive. The company, like many others, is also offering workers the ability to work remotely if they do not need to be at a facility.
“As previously communicated, FCA has been proactively modifying production protocols at several plants including enhancing social distancing between employees at work-stations. Across all facilities, FCA has increased cleaning and sanitization and other improvements for employee safety. Strict controls and security measures have been applied to canteens and to external access to all group sites,” the company said.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.
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