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Renault-Nissan's south India plant staff to stay away on Monday

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By Sudarshan Varadhan

CHENNAI, May 31 (Reuters) - Workers at the Renault-Nissan plant in southern India will not report for work on Monday over coronavirus-related safety concerns, according to a union letter to the company seen by Reuters, and two sources familiar with the matter.

Ford and Hyundai have also shut plants in the south over the last week following protests over COVID safety concerns.

"It will not be secure for workers to report to work on Monday the 31st of May, 2021," the Renault-Nissan India workers union said in a letter sent late on Sunday.

Two sources said the union would continue to discuss its demands on Monday. They did not wish to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Hundreds of workers near Chennai have fallen ill with COVID-19 and dozens have died this year, labour unions say.

On Sunday, union leaders told Renault-Nissan its demands on adequate social distancing measures, rehabilitation of families of deceased workers and on medical treatment of those affected by Covid-19 had not been met.

"The union's request ... to ensure social distancing through reduced footfall has not been accepted," the letter to Renault-Nissan's managing director and vice-president of human relations read.

The union also said Renault-Nissan had only vaccinated 200 workers with a first dose. The company told a local court last week the plant had a workforce of more than 8,000.

Nissan, which owns a majority stake in the plant, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The company said last week it had vaccinated employees over 45 years and was willing to inoculate those under 45 based on availability.

The state government on Saturday allowed carmakers to continue operating despite protests by workers, but urged companies to follow social distancing protocols and vaccinate all employees within a month. (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Giles Elgood)