Windsor assembly plant workers return to factory after automakers reopen

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Workers at the Fiat Chrysler Automobile assembly plant in Windsor returned to work on Tuesday after a forced shutdown in March due to COVID-19.

Ford and GM also opened operations in Canada on May 19 – Ford in Windsor looking to produce about one million masks for healthcare workers per month for a period of one year.

Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor – the union that represents many auto workers – said safety is number one priority and that many new measures have been implemented to restart the plant.

Workers at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles assembly plant in Windsor line up outside the plant on Tuesday, May 19, in a COVID-19 screening tent. The factory reopened after a shutdown in March due to illness. (Stacey Janzer / CBC)

The new security features include a preselection area where temperatures will be taken before workers enter the factory, an application monitoring the health of workers, managers to ensure compliance with standards of physical distance, cleaning, disinfection in particular in areas with high contact, mandatory masks, lines upstairs to direct traffic, as well as breaks and lunches staggered with a limited number of places.

The factory – which was due to open sometime on May 4 – has set up tents outside the front doors where employees will be screened before entering.

FCA Canada Human Resources Manager Jacqueline Oliva said the morning went well as workers adjusted to the “new standard” of COVID-19 testing before entering the plant. Windsor assembly. (Stacey Janzer / CBC)

FCA Canada’s director of human resources, Jacqueline Oliva, was on hand for the reopening, when approximately 2,000 employees showed up to work.

Oliva stated that employees entered one of the screening tents, completed a health questionnaire on paper or using the mobile application, disinfected their hands, received a face mask and entered a trailer to undergo a thermal scan before obtaining safety glasses and finally entering the factory.

“Once you have completed the selection process, you will receive a small ticket, which means that you have completed the process and can enter the facility,” said Oliva. “We treat just about everyone. “

She had been there most of the morning and no one had been turned away for health reasons, said Oliva.

“It will just become the way we have to do things now,” she said. “This is the new standard – the start of every shift. “

WATCH | Daily screening of employees at the FCA assembly plant in Windsor:

FCA Canada Director of Human Resources Jacqueline Oliva reviews the daily selection of automotive workers at the FCA Windsor assembly plant. 1:33

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy said in a interview with CBC News that some employees were eager to return to the plant. Nevertheless, he said that a number of other employees reached out to tell him that they were happy to return to work.

At the same time, Cassidy said employees have expressed concern about wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) while on the job, especially as the weather continues to warm.

“Obviously, having to wear masks and glasses poses a lot of questions about the heat and being able to work in this environment,” he said, adding that windows were opened in the factory. to “circulate the air”.

“We are advancing the agenda to get these fans inside the facility, which will help alleviate many of the heat issues. “

Cassidy reiterated that all employees are expected to wear PPE at all times, other than eating and drinking.

“They are distant from society, so everyone is safe inside,” he said.

Dave Cassidy, President of Unifor Local 444, said he heard from employees eager to return to work, as well as those eager to return to the Windsor Assmebly plant. (Chris Ensing / CBC)

Cassidy says the first and third shifts will take place next week, with second-shift workers laid off.

“The same amount that is on the day shift today will be the same amount that will be on the day shift next week,” he said. “I am glad that society does not have people who cross paths when they come in and go out.”

The Unifor chief also briefly touched on the subject of child care for returning employees, saying he did not agree with the Ontario government’s decision to close schools until in September.

Employees inside the Windsor assembly plant wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Submitted by FCA Canada)

“This obviously poses a problem for some of our employees and anyone else,” said Cassidy. “It’s not just FCA. It’s the economy. I think the kids personally should go back to school. There are security measures that could be put in place around this. “

Cassidy was unsure of the number of employees at the Windsor assembly plant who will be affected by the prolonged school closings, saying “it will be a problem for child care with many of our members.”

“If daycares aren’t allowed to open, it also becomes a big problem. “

Employees at the FCA Canada assembly plant in Windsor on the phone, separated by protective screens. (Submitted by FCA Canada)

The Windsor assembly plant reopened a day after US automakers were brought back online due to the Victoria Day holiday on Monday.

Big Three of Detroit – Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford – as well as Honda and Toyota all had control procedures in place in dozens of factories that opened from the Great Lakes states south to Tennessee and Texas and west to the Tesla plant near San Francisco Bay.



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