Nissan Opens!

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Sunderland workers marching with their Unite banner – Nissan reopens today and will be churning out PPE, 70,000 gowns a week

NISSAN is piloting new safety measures which will see around 50 staff return to work at Britain’s biggest car plant today, with the support of the Unite trade union.

The Japanese manufacturer said ‘some activities are now being planned’ after its operations across Europe were shut down last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has not set a date for the resumption of vehicle manufacturing at the site – though it did announce it was restarting production at its Barcelona factory from 4th May.

Nissan said it was ‘looking forward to resuming business’ as soon as conditions in Europe allow and has been putting in place ‘a comprehensive set of safety measures to protect the health and wellbeing of employees’.

In Sunderland, where Nissan employs about 6,000 workers, the new safety regime will be implemented in a pilot scheme.

The site has been transformed into a factory to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed it hopes to make up to 70,000 gowns a week from its Sunderland plant, in addition to the visors already being assembled and distributed from the site.

Unions say workers should have more protection at the plant when work resumes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steve Bush, National officer for Unite, said: ‘At all times Unite’s priority must be to ensure the health and safety of our members, their families and communities as well as their financial and future job security.

‘At this time government advice is that manufacturing should, where it’s safe to do so, continue to operate. Unite supports Nissan’s actions where the safety of our members has been fully re-evaluated and all necessary precautions put in place.’

The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed it hopes to make up to 70,000 gowns a week from its Sunderland plant, in addition to the visors already being assembled and distributed from the site.

According to Nissan, it took a team of volunteers at the Washington plant just eight days to design and build a bespoke system to manufacture plastic aprons.

Initial capacity will be 18,000 per week, but it is hoped this could be rapidly scaled up to more than 70,000.

Last week the car-maker also confirmed it was using its Sunderland factory to assemble and distribute up to 100,000 protective visors to hospitals every week.