According to the Autoworker Newsletter, a socialist publication that is published by the Socialist Equality Party, there have been two confirmed cases and “at least” three suspected cases of COVID-19 at Silao Assembly since it reopened in May. One of the employees worked in the general assembly area of the plant, while the other was from the maintenance area.
Workers at the Silao plant also claim that GM Mexico had these employees sent to the private Angeles Hospital, which is located 30 miles away from Silao Assembly in Leon, rather than the closer Mexican Social Security Institute-run public hospital in order to avoid there being a public record of the two cases.
One of the suspected case of COVID-19 allegedly arose from the plant’s transmission area from an employee that caught the virus from a family member. A day later, two workers in the paint area were sent back home “because they were in really bad condition, with cough and the flu, all the symptoms of COVID-19,” one person was quoted as saying.
The Autoworker Newsletter also published a video that is said to show the lax social distancing measures at the Silao plant. Employees are seen funneling out of the plant and walking through passageways in close proximity and the vast majority appear to be wearing face masks.
Mexico has seen roughly 164,930 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of this writing, along with 19,080 deaths. Around 119,000 recoveries have also been reported.
Earlier this month, GM was asked by the UAW to shutdown its Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri after five employees there tested positive for COVID-19, but it denied the request. An employee at its Arlington Assembly plant in Texas also tested positive for COVID-19 in early June, leading UAW Local 276 Shop Chairman to express concern over the situation.
“I know we have a job to do — we’re considered essential workers in manufacturing — but if it’s not a nurse or something like that, I don’t believe anyone needs to be at work right now,” Hines told The Detroit Free Press in a recent interview. “We don’t have this virus under control as a nation.”
GM believes employees at its various facilities around the globe will be safe while at work as long as they stick to the guidelines outlined in its 40-page COVID-19 handbook it sent out last month. The automaker says it has implemented strict social distancing measures at its plants and is mandating the use PPE such as facemasks and gloves. Work areas and employee common areas are also frequently sanitized.