WINDSOR, Ontario -- Coronavirus fears among unionized workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ minivan plant in Canada have brought production to a halt for about 24 hours. Production resumed later Friday afternoon.
FCA Canada says Unifor began a work refusal late Thursday after one of its members decided to self-quarantine as a precaution because of possible secondary contact with an individual who has undergone testing for the coronavirus.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Windsor Assembly Plant, the automaker said Friday. In fact, There are currently no confirmed cases in Windsor or surrounding Essex County, according to the local health unit. The overall risk is low for residents of Windsor and Essex County, the health unit said.
However, several people in the community have symptoms of the virus and are being tested.
“There currently is one [FCA] employee out on self-quarantine as a precaution because of possible secondary contact.” FCA spokeswoman Lou Ann Gosselin said in a statement. “As a result, plant employees are concerned about possible exposure and have refused to work since mid-afternoon on March 12.
“The Ministry of Labour visited the plant on March 12 to investigate, and determined our protocols and work environment to be safe.”
Gosselin said the plant remained idled Friday until about 3 p.m. ET as employees refused to return to work for about 24 hours. Production resumes in time for the afternoon shift.
“We continue to monitor the situation carefully and take precautions to safeguard the health and welfare of the FCA family.”
About 6,500 workers build the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager and Dodge Grand Caravan in Windsor.
Unifor officials weren't immediately available for comment.
FCA on Thursday once again extended the life of the midnight shift at the minivan plant. The automaker has been attempting to end production on the third shift for nearly a year, but continues to change the end date.
“FCA notified Unifor today that it is adjusting the start date of the two-shift operation at the Windsor Assembly Plant to begin on July 13,” Gosselin said Thursday.
She declined to elaborate.
The work refusal in Windsor began not long after a worker at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' transmission plant in Kokomo, Ind., tested positive for the coronavirus. Production at that facility is continuing.
The UAW is working closely with Fiat Chrysler on measures necessary to protect its members, vice-president Cindy Estrada said in a statement.