Home Europe Nissan to shut factory in Barcelona, thousands of workers affected

Nissan to shut factory in Barcelona, thousands of workers affected

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Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to shut its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed after four decades of operations, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

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The decision came despite government efforts to keep the plant open, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the national radio station.

“We regret this decision by Nissan to leave not just Spain but Europe… to concentrate its business in Asia, despite the enormous efforts by the government to keep the business going,” she said.

Spain is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus fallout, a context that particularly stoked anger among workers at the Barcelona plant.

Shameful

“Its shameful that a multinational company like this one would drop us in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said 54-year old Jordi Carbonell who has been with Nissan for 32 years.

Carbonell said he had felt “cheated” by management in recent years. “No production site is profitable without a sufficient production volume and here they just let it die,” he said.

Spains car industry is the European Unions second-biggest after that of Germany, accounting for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product.

With Brexit, the Barcelona site became Nissans main one in the European Union. The Japanese company runs a bigger production facility in Sunderland in Britain.

In addition to 3,000 direct jobs, some 22,000 more depend indirectly on the site, according to unions.

The industry ministry confirmed to AFP that Nissans chief executive had informed it of plans to stop operations at the Barcelona site, which groups several production facilities.

Safeguard employment

Production there had already ground to a halt at the start of the month when some staff went on strike demanding an investment strategy for the site after plans were announced to cut 20 percent of the workforce.

Foreign Minister Gonzalez Laya said “all kinds of help” had been proposed to Nissan in the run-up to Thursdays decision and that the government would “not throw in the towel”.

The head of Nissans European operations, Gianluca de Ficchy, said “all that support was taken into account in order to have an overall economic equation going forward”.

Nevertheless, “weve reached the conclusion that the overall economic equation for the plant was not sustainable going forward,” he added.

But Gonzalez Laya said Spain would “explore all solutions, because our concern is to safeguard employment”.

She did not rule out the possibility of finding a buyer for the plant.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino meanwhile said the government had invited Nissan to start talks “to see how this process could be managed”, to no avail.

The Madrid government has argued that the cost of closing Nissans Barcelona operation, which it put at more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion), was higher than the investmRead More – Source