Mar 17, 2020
Employees shut down a large Mercedes factory in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain on Monday to protest being required to work despite the coronavirus outbreak which forced the Spanish government to impose a nationwide lockdown over the weekend.
After talks with management over factory conditions and precautions against the spread of COVID-19 broke down, employees stopped working and staged a sit-in at the end of the assembly line, refusing to allow the production process to continue.
The factory's works council, which represents employees, alleged that Mercedes management failed to comply with on-the-job safety requirements such as ensuring that workers have masks, adequate gloves, and other supplies.
The employees demanded that "the health of workers be prioritized over production in the face of the coronavirus health crisis," according to local Spanish outlet Naiz.
"They have decided to carry out this action because the situation in the plant 'cannot go on like this,'" Naiz reported.
\u201cMercedes es la empresa m\u00e1s grande de la CAV y los 5.000 currelas estaban llamados a acudir hoy a sus puestos de trabajo.\n\nEl comit\u00e9 de empresa ha decidido parar la cadena. Se han sentado en la salida de la l\u00ednea 10 para evitar que salgan las furgonetas.\n\n#KapitalaVsBizitza\u201d— Igor Goikolea (@Igor Goikolea) 1584350491
Major automakers like Ford, General Motors, and others have instructed non-factory employees in the United States and across Europe to work from home amid the coronavirus outbreak, but factory workers have been required to work.
Jalopnikreported Monday that the Mercedes factory in Vitoria-Gasteiz "had at least one case of coronavirus and 23 workers in quarantine."
"Nissan, Renault, Seat, and Michelin had shut down factories already amid coronavirus," Jalopnik noted, "so the... Mercedes plant was a worrying holdout."
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