General Motors cleared the way for all of its salaried and contract employees to work from home starting March 16, in a bid to shut down the spread of COVID -19, which has disrupted life across the United States.
However, the company plans to keep operating the beating heart of the company – its manufacturing plants.
“The health and welfare of our employees, their families and our communities is our priority. GM is taking steps to minimize the exposure to team members and our business. Although GM is asking all employees and contract workers to work remotely, beginning Monday, March 16, we don’t have that option in manufacturing,” GM said in a statement e-mailed to TheDetroitBureau.com.
The statement added GM has taken a series of steps “to protect our team” in the company’s manufacturing plants, increasing the frequency of cleaning touch points like door handles, handrails and tables and replenishing CDC-recommended cleaners for the cleaning staff and procuring hand sanitizer and wipe stations.
The plans going forward also include moving resources such as cleaning crews, sanitization/cleaning supplies, and medical staff to those areas where working remotely is not an option, GM said.
The statement said GM was closely monitoring all travel advisories and warnings from public health and governmental authorities and actively updating its response plans accordingly.
GM also is limiting visitor access to facilities and eliminating work-related air travel and implementing safety protocols for people with potential exposure and those who have flu-like symptoms at work.
So far, GM has not had an employee infected by the virus.
The United Auto Workers also monitoring the situation. “All of our sectors are having ongoing talks with our employers because this is an emergency situation including paid leave,” UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said.
One union member, an engineer employed at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. plant in Kokomo, Indiana, has tested positive for the virus. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. said Friday it has no additional reports of employees testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Earlier this week, FCA announced plans to shut down a large swath of its operations in Italy in response to the virus, which has forced the Italian government to order strict measures such as bans on public gatherings and school closing to combat the spread of the virus, which threaten to overwhelm the country’s medical system.
However, FCA said the virus, which infected a salaried engineer, has not disrupted production at the vital transmission plant in Indiana.
“FCA is working with local area health authorities in Kokomo, Indiana, to support the treatment of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, who works at the Kokomo Transmission Plant, is currently receiving medical care,” FCA said in a statement.