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Tamil Nadu industries resume production, slow and steady

Automobile companies use half of their workforce and ensure social distancing as lockdown is eased

Coronavirus | Tamil Nadu government | E Palaniswami

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

An industry worker in a factory
Sampling and other orders can be done with 40 per cent of the workforce if the 1.5 lakh migrant labourers decide to go back to their homes Tirupur

Automobile, textile, and leather are among industries that started reopening in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday after staying shut for almost six weeks in the national to contain the pandemic.

Hyundai Motor, which managed around 15,813 employees and contract workers before the pandemic struck, started work with 7,500 people daily in two shifts at its factory in Sriperumbudur.

Royal Enfield, which had suspended work on March 23, resumed under the government’s guidelines on social distancing and workplace sanitisation. "Our manufacturing unit at Oragadam, near Chennai, will be the first to begin operations in a staggered manner, with minimal staff over a single shift. Employees and shop floor staff residing in and around plant locations will be aligned to work in these units, so as to avoid long-distance travel and minimise contact during transporation," said the company. Its facilities in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvottiyur and Vallam Vadagal will work in a phased manner.

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The company said around 120 dealerships have begun work and it expects around 300 will be operational by mid-May, as it offers customers home test-rides to assure them about safety.

TVS Motor Company resumed its factories in Hosur, Mysuru and Nalagarh, saying it has made a safety manual for employees and will continue offering work-from-home option to some of them in adherence to state government guidelines. Auto component maker Sundaram Fasteners, which is part of the TVS Group, has started production, too.

Tyre manufacturer MRF resumed most of its plants--it didn't comment where--and work at some stocking points, saying continuing operations will depend on directives of government authorities.

Sources in these companies said production is not full scale as demand is low. Coimbatore-based Lakshmi Machine Works resumed work with minimal workforce and Nissan will soon.

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Ashok Leyland has not commenced production. Vipin Sondhi, managing director and chief executive officer of Ashok Leyland, recently said the industry would have to look at a structured opening of the to facilitate supply chain before it can restart work. He was referring to auto companies depending on the ancillary sector for production.

Tirupur, the textile hub that does business worth Rs 50,000 crore annually, has started production in full swing. The town houses around 3,000 garment units, including 1,100 export units. About 5-6 lakh people, including 1.5 lakh migrants, depend on this industry for livelihood.

"It is not that the units will run in 100 per cent capacity considering global buyers yet to come out of the crisis," Raja M Shanmugham, president, Tirupur Exporters Association, referring to the pandemic.

Sampling and other orders can be done with 40 per cent of the workforce if the 1.5 lakh migrant labourers decide to go back to their homes from Tirupur. Around 90 per cent of businesses in Tirupur find liquidity to be the biggest challenge, said Shanmugham.

S Nagarajan, president of Dyers Association of Tirupur has said nearly 500 dying units in the town expect to resume from Monday after getting government permission. He said that many customers in the US and other countries who buy from China are looking at markets like India for their future purchases.

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The Confederation of SIDCO Industrial Associations, which represent MSMEs in and around Chennai, on Tuesday protested the "inequitable way" in which industries have been permitted to resume functioning from May 7, 2020.

These associations represent MSMEs which are in the industrial estates on the outskirts of and in Chennai with an annual turnover of about Rs 26,250 crore. They alleged that they have not been given permission to open, citing increased cases of Covid-19 infections, said the Associations adding that the imminent possibility of large manufacturing companies seeking to shift moulds and dies from units in these industrial estates to others that are open for operations.

First Published: Wed, May 06 2020. 18:51 IST