Covid-19 paralyzes Audi Brussels factory
Shortly after Volvo announced halting its production for two days, Audi Brussels was also forced to close the gates. However, the reasons are quite different. The Ghent plant stalled because of a shortage of battery modules. In Brussels, an outbreak of the coronavirus among the workforce is causing draconical measures.
‘The sanitary condition of our workforce is a top concern,” comments Peter D’Hoore, spokesperson for the factory. He adds that management will evaluate later this week when the factory will reopen. Some union delegates put forth the date of December 5th, but officially no timing has been acknowledged.
If the deadline is correct, the plant will be missing out on a production of more than 2 400 e-trons, piling up a loss of at least 175 million euros. By shutting down the assembly line, the factory board hopes to quench the outbreak.
The fourth wave of the pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on several production units in the capital of Belgium. Audi Brussels is one of the biggest affected. The outbreak was initiated on Monday when twelve workers of the morning shift tested positive on Covid-19.
The ABVV-MWB union’s principal delegate, Franky De Schrijver, said several infection clusters were detected during the day. People started to worry; the medical staff couldn’t keep up. In a first attempt to redeem the situation, the factory board decided to dismiss the morning shift for the rest of the week.
They were put under quarantine with an end date of 5 December. The afternoon shift was supposed to remain in place for the rest of the week, but the laborers refused to take up work when arriving on-site. They claimed the situation was unsafe, though all machinery had been cleaned.
Lack of parking space
After a reunion with the board, Audi decided to shut down the whole plant. Corona measures are reputably and at a very high standard at Audi Brussels, but the unions keep pointing at essential pitfalls.
“Carpooling has been reduced to two persons per car, which means there’s not enough parking space,” says Franky De Schrijver. “And how will management deal with the crowded buses? From an organizational point of view, the situation remains very difficult.”
The morning shift at Volvo Cars Ghent restarted production as of today. According to spokesperson Barbara Blomme, the factory has to deal with quarantined workers, as well, but can count on the return of earlier affected people and its structural flexibility to keep the stations served. As such, the factory should be able to get the three shifts up and running, despite the complications.