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March 20, 2020

Skoda closes Czech plants due to coronavirus

Skoda has suspended production at its Czech plants in Mladá Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabí for an initial period of two weeks.

By Rhodri Morgan

Skoda has suspended production at its Czech plants in Mladá Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabí for an initial period of two weeks.

Operations are scheduled to restart on 6 April, while production of Skoda has resumed at Chinese plants and in India and Russia, manufacturing is continuing.

“With 37,000 employees in the Czech Republic alone, our responsibility extends far beyond the factory gates,” said Skoda CEO, Bernhard Maier.

“Everything must be done to slow the spread of the virus in order to protect and help those who will be particularly affected – most notably the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. In addition, sales channels in most markets have also collapsed due to government measures.”

At Skoda, there have been three confirmed cases of coronavirus as of 19 March with the automaker saying they are in a stable condition. Workstations have been disinfected to prevent the virus from spreading further. As a precaution, several other staff members are self-isolating at home.

“Skoda bears great responsibility for its employees, customers, suppliers and sales organisations,” added a statement from the manufacturer. “The board has therefore decided to close the three plants in the Czech Republic. All employees will receive 70% of their average wage at the start of the production shutdown (18 to 29 March, 2020), and 75% from 30 March to 5 April, 2020.

“Skoda will be financing this challenging situation and its consequences from its own resources initially. The company’s primary goal is to keep all staff members employed during this time. As the board of management has emphasised, the effects and duration of this crisis cannot yet be predicted at this time. The industry and companies in the Czech Republic are faced with an enormous burden.

“Therefore, as in other European countries, government support should be provided. In association with the unions, Skoda is holding discussions with the government regarding this matter. Sales markets have been severely affected – also due to the decision of some governments to close down the retail sector. In a few markets, only some service facilities remain open to keep cars on the road.”

All SAIC Volkswagen plants in China (with the exception of Changsha) where Skoda vehicles are built, have resumed production. So far, there are no restrictions in the production facilities for Skoda models in Russia. Manufacturing at the Indian plant in Aurangabad is continuing, although at a significantly reduced capacity. Production has stopped in Pune, India.

The automaker adds however, this was planned as part of the India 2.0 project, as the plant is currently being converted for the manufacturing of a new model family.

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