Washington, May 18 (efe-epa).- The three main US automakers – General Motors (GM), Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) – on Monday began resuming production of vehicles with the return of employees to work in the states of Michigan and Ohio.
The resumption of production comes almost two months after the Covid-19 pandemic forced auto manufacturers to shut their factories and send workers home to comply with quarantine measures issued by the authorities.
Hundreds of FCA workers began arriving at the plants in Detroit, Sterling Heights, Toledo and Warren on Monday morning to begin their workshifts.
FCA said in a statement that on Tuesday it will also resume production of vehicles at two plants in the Canadian cities of Brampton and Windsor.
In all, this week 15,100 FCA workers (11,700 in the US and 3,400 in Canada) will return to their jobs.
On May 26, FCA will also resume production at five transmission and engine manufacturing plants in Michigan and Indiana, and on June 1 operations will begin again at the assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and at a Canadian foundry plant.
Meanwhile, resuming production at plants in Mexico remains on hold pending approval by authorities in that country.
The three firms decided to resume production with reduced workshifts. The return to the assembly lines comes amid an increase in safety measures to avoid the potential transmission of Covid-19 among the workers at the facilities. Employees will work wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from their colleagues, insofar as that is possible.
In addition, the firms will take the temperatures of all workers before they begin their workshifts and will conduct Covid-19 tests on workers who show symptoms of the disease.
GM, meanwhile, is scheduled to bring 15,000 of its 48,000 factory employees in the US back to work in the near future.
The firm said that starting on Monday, workers at 13 GM plants that produce pickups and all-terrain SUVs, as well as engines and transmissions, in the US will return to work. These installations initially will operate with just one workshift per day.
For its part, Ford said that 80 percent of its workers were scheduled to return to work on Monday. In contrast with GM, Ford decided to resume production by eliminating just one workshift, meaning that many of its factories will operate with two shifts starting on Monday.
So far, about 1.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US and almost 90,000 have died from the Covid-19 pneumonia the virus often causes, according to the latest tally on Monday by The Johns Hopkins University.