GM tells Mexico workers it plans May 20 restart at Silao plant

Economy
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO:  A general view shows the GM pickup and transmission plant in Silao © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the GM pickup and transmission plant in Silao

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – General Motors Co (NYSE:) is tentatively planning to restart operations at its auto assembly plant in the Mexican city of Silao on May 20, according to a message to workers seen by Reuters on Sunday, as the car industry prepares to exit the coronavirus lockdown.

The reopening of the plant would be a positive signal for the auto sector in North America, whose supply lines are highly interconnected between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Workers at the plant in the central state of Guanajuato that has been idled for weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, had previously been told to plan to return to work on May 18.

GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The message to the plant’s workers came after the Mexican government on Friday clarified when the industry could begin easing restrictions imposed because of the health emergency.

On Wednesday, the government said automakers could start going back into production from May 18. It then withdrew that advice and suggested the new start date would be June 1.

Finally it indicated the sector, which forms the backbone of Mexican manufacturing, could begin operating as soon as next week if companies had the required safety measures in place.

U.S. officials and its auto industry have pressed Mexico’s government to get its factories open again because American operations depend heavily on parts from south of the border.

However, some politicians are wary of opening too fast. Mexico registered its first case of coronavirus weeks after the United States and Canada and the toll of daily infections and deaths in the country reached new peaks over the past few days.

The Silao production facility, which makes highly profitable pickup trucks for GM, is one of the biggest automotive plants in Guanajuato, a major Mexican carmaking state.

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