PARIS -- PSA Group and Renault are planning new safety measures in a push by France’s major industrial groups for a breakthrough with workers to reopen some factories before the government lifts its lockdown from mid-May, unions said.
Toyota on Wednesday became the first auto company with a plant in France to agree with unions a gradual restart of production from April 21 at its factory in northern France, where it makes the Yaris model.
The ramp-up comes as auto rivals elsewhere look to resume manufacturing from next week, including Volkswagen in Germany where some restrictions to contain the new coronavirus outbreak will be eased and dealerships will be allowed to resume selling cars on Monday.
In France, negotiations with labor unions have been tough, however. PSA and Renault told Reuters they were preparing for a restart of operations, but no date had officially been set yet.
At PSA’s gearbox factory in Valenciennes, where a first plan to resume production on a voluntary basis was rejected by unions in March, management and workers’ representatives are to hold fresh talks on Friday.
New safety protocols are being developed by the automakers, union members said.
These could include wearing masks, giving out individual ashtrays so that smokers do not gather in one area, and keeping the doors open to avoid contact with the handles.
They would also entail disinfecting tools and work surfaces every 60 minutes and doubling the number of buses that pick up workers.