There is still a lot of questions surrounding the recent COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) crisis and how long it will last. Yesterday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Italian arm of the company, known as FCA Italia, shut down production of several of its plants, due to the severity how of many have been affected with COVID-19 in the surrounding areas. The plants in that region will remain closed until the end of March. The lack of production will affect the availability of certain models for the Alfa Romeo, FIAT, Maserati, and Jeep® brands.
In North America, it is business as usual United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Big-Three Detroit automakers (GM, Ford, and FCA) have created a task force, responsible for delivering communications and ensuring work conditions are safe at the plants. However, it still hasn’t eased fears as another walk-off happened yesterday at FCA’s Warren Truck Assembly Plant – which builds the popular Ram 1500 Classic model.
According to reports from the Detroit Free Press, 17 paint shop employees walked off the job over concerns about the virus, despite there being no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the suburban Detroit-based plant. According to a statement from FCA spokeswoman Jodi Tinson, the walk-off did not stop production. It is still unclear why the workers had concerns or if they returned to their positions at the plant.
“Earlier today, 17 employees in the paint shop stopped working over concerns about the virus. 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,” according to the statement.
This comes only days after a walkout of some Unifor employees at the Windsor Assembly Plant – home to the Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager, and Dodge Grand Caravan, after one of their fellow employees had been self-quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19. This caused the plant to shut down production for several hours.
It is expected that the U.S. automotive sector could lose more than a million sales due to the crisis this year.