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Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler To Shut Down US Plants Due To Covid-19

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The Big 3 Detroit automakers - Ford Motor, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles - have decided to shut down all North American plants for the next two weeks as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the US continues to worsen.

The decision was taken on the strong request from the United Auto Workers, the American labor union that represents workers in the U.S. and Canada, to the automakers to safeguard its members from the virus. The union represents about 150,000 hourly workers at these facilities.

All three companies have also agreed to new measures that will increase adherence to U.S. Government Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on social distancing in the workplace.

Further, they have agreed to review and implement the rotating partial shutdown of facilities, extensive deep cleaning of facility and equipment between shifts, extended periods between shifts, and extensive plans to avoid member contact.

Leaders from the Big 3 and UAW are forming a Coronavirus Task Force to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing and warehouse employees at all three companies. They have also formed a similar task force in Canada.

Ford said it is temporarily suspending production at its manufacturing sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through March 30 after Thursday evening shifts to thoroughly clean and sanitize its facilities to protect its workforce and boost containment efforts.

Ford had already temporarily closed its Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. It will also close facilities in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany as well as Craiova in Romania. It already halted production at Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend.

General Motors also confirmed that it would begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America.The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that.

FCA also agreed to cease production at its plants across North America, starting progressively from Thursday through the end of March.

Among other automakers, Honda Motor will shut its North American factories for six days due to a slump in demand, while Nissan Motor will halt production at U.S. manufacturing facilities from Friday through April 6.

Korea's Hyundai Motor already shuttered its Montgomery, Alabama, assembly plant after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, while Toyota Motor announced it would close its North American plants for two days next week.

Meanwhile, other automakers in North America are still operating assembly plants including BMW, Kia Motors, Daimler AG's Mercedes, Volvo Cars and Volkswagen AG.

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