The Socialist 17 February 2021 |
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Derby Toyota plant Covid crisis
Former Tory chancellor George Osborne visits the Toyota plant in Burnaston, Photo HM Treasury/CC (Click to enlarge)
Derby Socialist Party has compiled a report on the situation at the Toyota Car Plant in Burnaston, near Derby which employs around 2,500 staff.
On the night of 3 February, there was a high number of staff off work. Workers were moved to the affected lines to staff the production area, delaying production by an hour.
At the evening briefing, staff were told targets did not matter that night, it was only about quality and safety. Yet looking over at one affected line, you could see two to three people doing one process where normally only one person would be working.
The following week, it was reported to staff that there were 17 staff off with Covid and 68 isolating.
Some cleaning times introduced during the Covid pandemic have been reduced. There was a five-minute clean down at the beginning and end of a two-hour session to stop cross-infection. That has been reduced to two minutes at the start of each session.
Lots of people, both in and out of the union, felt let down by what is going on. The union needs to give its own reports to members about the health and safety measures it is demanding, and what management is or is not implementing.
It's been reported that a member of staff had to train someone on the line while at the same time the person opposite was training someone. It appears that continuing the work meant that some social distancing had gone out the window.
While there are staggered break times to ensure staff from different production areas start and finish at different times, staff in the same shop take breaks together. Random tables and chairs had been placed at the side of the line as new workers have been taken on. But there wasn't the room in group areas so they were sat without masks on as people wearing masks walked close by.
Although some staff are scared to bring up issues, there was clearly concern and anger about the risks at the plant, and staff were raising it.
The pressure by staff has certainly had an effect.
The company has now revamped what it has been doing. Anyone going into someone else's process area, like a trainee or a team leader, now has to wear a mask and visor. It's non-negotiable. And employees must wear a mask in their own area.
Tables have been moved further away from the lockers.
There's still an issue if someone is using a tool to do a job and there's a problem like a cross-thread; a team leader will use the tool to do a repair, but the tool is not always wiped down, just put back in the gun pot, and off they go to the next repair, instead of stopping the line (which reduces car production) to do the fix and enable better social distancing.
There needs to be a return to a high standard of safety as a big fear is that staff might catch Covid either at work or bring it in and the infection will spread.
There also needs to be:
- Temperature testing on entry and leaving
- On-site testing for people both asymptomatic who think they may have Covid and for those showing signs
- If one person tests positive in a team then the whole team isolates
- Full pay including shift allowances for all who are isolating whether directly-employed Toyota workers or agency
- If the situation arises again, then the plant needs to shut down for two weeks for a deep clean and then only after agreement from the union should production be restarted.
- Safety first!