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Lines Liberated: Ontario automakers restart production

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— Ontario automakers have thus far seen a smooth transition in restarting operations amid the pandemic, according to employees at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor, Ont. assembly plant.

“A lot of things are pretty similar except there are just safety measures everywhere now,” Vanessa Abouhussein, a line worker in the Windsor facility paint shop told CBC News. “I feel pretty good. I think FCA did a good job negotiating with our union without us really being there.”

Production site coordinators have assembled designated working areas and arrows have been set up on the floor to encourage physical distancing. Plastic barriers divide those who work in close proximity along the assembly line, and employees are asked a series of pre-screening questions before entering the building each day.

The factory initiated a gradual restart at the end of May, beginning with one shift per day the week of May 18 and two shifts per day the following week. Beginning this week, all three shifts will report for work. 

Other Ontario production sites also restarted production in mid-May: Honda’s Alliston plant began limited production on May 12, while Toyota’s Cambridge and Woodstock plants began pursuing a gradual restart on May 11.

Ford relaunched production at its Windsor, Ont. assembly plant on May 25, a full week after other North American automakers had reopened operations.

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