Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Engine plant. PHOTO: Ford Motor Co.Click image to enlargeIn response to the ever deepening COVID-19 crisis, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler have suspended operations at all North American plants commencing March 19, 2020.

The Detroit 3 automakers on March 18 all issued statements advising of the temporary shutdowns. The closures will last through the end of March, with evaluations about continued action on a weekly basis.

The companies have also struck a joint task force with members from each automaker, the UAW and Unifor to develop strategies to deal with the ongoing pandemic.

“We’re continuing to work closely with union leaders, especially the United Auto Workers, to find ways to help keep our workforce healthy and safe – even as we look at solutions for continuing to provide the vehicles customers really want and need,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of North America. “In these unprecedented times, we’re exploring unique and creative solutions to support our workforce, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities.”

FCA says it will use the time off to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols.

 “Working with the UAW, and having visited many of our plants yesterday, we need to ensure employees feel safe at work and that we are taking every step possible to protect them. We will continue to do what is right for our people through this period of uncertainty,” said FCA CEO, Mike Manley.

To ensure that production stops in a safe and orderly fashion, General Motors’ plants will suspend operations in a cadence, with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership.

"GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus," said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. "We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now.”

Meanwhile, Unifor is pushing for workers to retain regular wages, whether they are unionised or not if there are work stoppages due to the pandemic.

“We understand that this pandemic requires an extraordinary response, but Canadian auto workers must not bear the brunt of this crisis. Workers must be protected from this virus and from financial hardship as a result of this pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

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