PSA Group is preparing to resume operations at its European factories which were halted in light of the coronavirus outbreak, however various unions said that the plan is premature, Automotive News Europe reported. The automaker had planned to restart production at its Valeciennes transmission facility on March 30 and at its Douvrin engine plant on April 3 with volunteers, the report said.

“We consider that restarting work would be premature as long as the peak of the epidemic is not behind us,” said Valenciennes plant CFT union member Sebastien Leroy. “We don’t (understand) it. France is preparing to extend confinement and at the same time PSA is organising de-confinement,” said CGT union member Jean-Pierre Mercier.

The company had closed its European plants including Peugeot, Citroen and DS facilities on March 16, along with Opel factories in Germany, Spain and Poland, Vauxhall plants in the United Kingdom on the same date. A restart of output was initially slated for March 27, however the national lockdown in France has since been extended until April 15, Automotive News Europe reported.

On Friday, PSA said that it is establishing a timetable for a ‘gradual and safe resumption’ of industrial activities, including health and safety precautions for workers, it said. “We will absolutely not jeopardize our workers’ health, so that the industrial restart that is necessary to safeguard the future of the company can be done in optimal conditions,” PSA CEO Carlos Tavares said in a statement on Friday.

Measures will include taking workers’ body temperatures, providing face masks and ensuring ample spacing between each workspace, while also keeping all doors open except fire doors in order to avoid infection via contact with door handles, the report said. Tools and work surfaces will be disinfected every 60 minutes, workers will need to wait three hours before touching a piece that has been handled by another worker and breaks will be given another five minutes to ensure proper hand-washing, it added.

For transport, the number of workers’ shuttle buses will be doubled to enable greater spacing between passengers, and the company said it will apply this measures not just at its production plants, but also at its sales and administrative locations, the report added.

Production has resumed at PSA production sites in China, where the company operates a joint venture with Dongfeng in Wuhan, the city which was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

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