Car manufacturers in Chennai on India's eastern coast restarted production even as the wider region extended its lockdown orders, Tamil Nadu state government said this past weekend.
The motor-vehicle making hub of India - sometimes called the nation's Detroit - is currently under almost total lockdown with roughly 30,000 new coronavirus infections being recorded daily.
But state officials have asked all "continuous process industries," which includes automakers, to continue production albeit with social distancing measures in place and mandatory vaccination measures for workers.
It remains to be seen whether nervous employees will comply with these demands. Hundreds of car factory workers have already fallen ill and dozens more have died, according to local labor unions.
Boycott threats from staff recently led the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to temporarily close its Chennai factory - an option of last resort now being considered by labor groups at other companies.
Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. were forced to suspend production at their Chennai factories after workers spoke out against unsafe working conditions.
"We're scared about working," a senior union leader at Hyundai told Reuters. "The company is citing government orders and asking us to report for work. The government needs to think about the welfare of workers."
Company directors refute these charges. "Health and safety of our societies, partners and employees is our topmost priority," Biju Balendran, managing director of Renault-Nissan India, said in a statement last week.
Outside of the car making industry, other heavy machinery and electronics suppliers are continuing production under new restrictions mandating 50% worker capacity in a bid to reduce virus transmission.