Medical staff of the Mexican Institute of Social Safety (IMSS) protest to demand higher protecting gear to deal with sufferers with coronavirus illness (COVID-19), exterior a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
April 16, 2020
By Jose Luis Gonzalez
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – Protests have erupted exterior factories in the Mexican border metropolis of Ciudad Juarez in current days after the deaths of a number of staff, together with some employed by U.S. firms, from what the protesters mentioned was the coronavirus.
To date, 82 individuals have examined constructive for the brand new coronavirus in the town that lies throughout the border from El Paso, Texas, native authorities mentioned on Thursday. A complete of 19 have died, the town well being division mentioned.
A number of staff for Lear Company, a Michigan-based automotive seat maker, have died from respiratory diseases, the corporate mentioned in a press release to Reuters.
Honeywell Worldwide Inc on Thursday instructed Reuters a employee at one in every of its crops in the town had died after being despatched house to self-quarantine and obtain medical consideration.
The deaths and the protests about ongoing manufacturing at border factories observe outbreaks of the virus at meat-packing crops in the US which have raised considerations over working circumstances in the course of the epidemic.
Lockdowns that goal to cease the unfold of the coronavirus are disrupting provide chains in the $1.2 trillion North America Free Commerce Settlement area, with rising friction between governments and firms about which industries ought to proceed to function.
On Thursday, dozens of staff gathered exterior a Honeywell manufacturing unit in Juarez to demand its non permanent closure, following related rallies exterior different U.S. and Mexican crops in the town.
“We want them to respect the quarantine,” mentioned Mario Cesar Gonzalez, who mentioned the Honeywell Ademco manufacturing unit he labored at made burglar alarms.
“The manager said that we are essential workers. I don’t think an alarm is essential.”
Honeywell mentioned in a press release to Reuters that it was “deeply saddened” to be taught that one in every of its staff had died.
“The products we manufacture at our sites are part of Mexico’s critical infrastructure necessary to maintain essential activities and services including hospitals, health centers, laboratories, paramedics, and police and fire stations,” Honeywell mentioned.
The corporate mentioned authorities had not confirmed if the worker died from COVID-19, the sickness attributable to the coronavirus, however that it had closed the location, which the worker had labored at, for 48 hours to sanitize the realm.
The corporate didn’t say when the demise occurred however mentioned the employee had not been on web site since April 2.
Lear mentioned it had ceased all employee-related actions by April 1 in Ciudad Juarez.
“We are saddened that several employees at our Juarez City operations, who were receiving medical treatment at the same local government social security hospital in Juarez, have passed away, due to complications of respiratory illness,” the corporate mentioned in the assertion.
The Lear shutdown gave the impression to be in line with the Mexican authorities’s declaration of a well being emergency on March 30, requiring firms to stop operations if their actions are deemed non-essential.
On Wednesday, dozens of different staff protested exterior an meeting manufacturing unit run by Regal Beloir, a Wisconsin-based producer that produces electrical motors for family home equipment. They demanded the closure of that plant after the alleged demise of one in every of their coworkers.
“A colleague already died final night time. He had been working right here. There are contaminated staff and we’re not being instructed, mentioned one one who recognized himself as a Regal worker at the protest however declined to offer his identify for worry of retribution.
Reuters was not capable of affirm a demise of a Regal employee. The corporate didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
The Mexican authorities is investigating whether or not some “non-essential” firms proceed to function. Refusing to observe the principles may represent the crime of injury to well being and will price lives, Deputy Well being Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell mentioned on Wednesday.
From April three till Tuesday, 15% of firms with non-essential actions had refused to cease work, Lopez-Gatell mentioned.
(Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez in Ciudad Juarez; Further reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico Metropolis; Enhancing by Frank Jack Daniel and Aurora Ellis)