General Motors and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) have joined Ford in shutting their North American manufacturing plants through March 30 in response to the deepening COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. The US 'Big 3' have all coordinated their initial response to the crisis, working with the UAW.
GM said it will begin a systematic orderly suspension of manufacturing operations in North America due to market conditions, to deep clean facilities and continue to protect people. The suspension will last until at least March 30. Production status will be reevaluated week-to-week after that, the company said.
"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. I appreciate the teamwork of UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and local leadership as we take this unprecedented step."
"UAW members, their families and our communities will benefit from today's announcement with the certainty that we are doing all that we can to protect our health and safety during this pandemic," said UAW President Rory Gamble. "This will give us time to review best practices and to prevent the spread of this disease. We appreciate General Motors' actions today and will continue to work with them on health and safety plans to be implemented when we resume production."
To ensure that production stops in a safe and orderly fashion, GM plants will suspend operations in a 'cadence', with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership.
FCA said in a statement that "working with the UAW and listening to the concerns of our people, we have agreed to cease production at our plants across North America, starting progressively from today through the end of March".
While production is paused, FCA said it will put actions into place to facilitate the steps agreed through the joint task-force set up between the UAW and the automakers. It will also "re-evaluate at the end of this month" and "work to enhance its manufacturing operations to facilitate the changes agreed with the UAW including shift timings, structures and enhanced cleaning protocols".
FCA CEO, Mike Manley said: "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."