Burning Tyres: Closure of Nissan Factory in Spain’s Barcelona Sparks Workers Protest as 2,800 Jobs are Lost

Shortly after announcing the closure of the Nissan factory in Barcelona, which effectively means the loss of jobs for 2,800 employees at the plant, many workers have gathered outside the gates to protest.

THIS Thursday workers gathered at the gates of the factory in the headquarters of the Free Zone to protest the closure of the plant, after the parent company of the Japanese company announced that it will not continue to bet on the production centres it has in Catalonia.

The protests have been taking place since around 10.00am and the workers have announced more mobilisations. Nissan unions have warned that they will not stand for the company’s closure plans.

After hearing the official announcement from the company about dismantling the production plants in Spain’s Catalonia, the union representatives called on the workers to maintain an indefinite strike which began on May 4 and instructed them to double the mobilisations. This morning dozens of workers gathered in front of the Zona Franca plant and burned tyres whilst hoping to conduct new protests.

“Nissan workers will not rest until they convince the multinational to maintain industrial operations in Spain,” said the CCOO, which has also called on Spanish, Catalan and municipal institutions to work with unions and help them find a solution.

In a statement signed by the General Secretary of CCOO in Catalonia, Javier Pacheco, the plant insists on highlighting the high cost that the closure of the Free Trade Zone will have for Nissan, which amounts to €1 billion, a figure which includes compensation to workers, suppliers and commercial and labour legal claims. This amount would also include their necessary expenses on infrastructure and expenses on decontaminating industrial land.

The same figure has been put forth by the central government, which maintained on Thursday that its intention is to negotiate with the company about their departure, but that it also proposes an alternative which will involve keeping the lost jobs. The third vice president for Economic Affairs in Spain, Nadia Calviño, has assured that they are willing to look for “an alternative solution” to help the workers.

“We have proposed that the company implements a method of discussion and negotiation to see how this process can be channelled,” said the vice president, since “it is a plant that makes strategic sense for the company, being that it is the only one in Europe.”

“It is a strategic decision of great significance for Nissan,” said Calviño, who also pointed out that “the necessary investments in the plant are less than the total estimated costs of closing it.”

Despite the message communicated by the government, Gianluca De Ficchy, the President of Nissan Europe, has replied that the decision to close the Barcelona plant has been taken and is irreversible.

The head of the company has recalled that the factory located in the Free Trade Zone had been reducing production until it reached just over 20 per cent of its possible production, a situation that worsened last year with the withdrawal of Mercedes and its ‘pick up’ model, which was manufactured on a common platform with Nissan.

De Ficchy justified the breach of the commitments on behalf of the Japanese manufacturer with the Spanish and Catalan authorities, with whom he had promised to keep the jobs in exchange for economic stimuli, such as the €3 million invested by the Generalitat last year or the facilities provided by Social Security. The president of the company has highlighted the collaboration obtained from both the central and regional governments.

Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.