Barcelona council backs workers over fears about future of Nissan plant

Employees from automaker's Zona Franca factory begin protests after production cuts see capacity drop to 20%

Nissan workers protest in front of the Japanese consulate in Barcelona (by Aina Martí)
Nissan workers protest in front of the Japanese consulate in Barcelona (by Aina Martí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 12, 2020 11:46 AM

Barcelona city council has pledged its "maximum involvement" in safeguarding jobs at the plant of Japanese automaker Nissan in the city's Zona Franca industrial estate.

Mayor Ada Colau met workers' representatives this week, committing the local government to voting for a declaration of support for Nissan's employees at the plant.

The Nissan plant is working at 20% of its productive capacity after the company recently announced that it will stop making two models, a pick-up truck and an electric van.

Last week, major unions announced a timetable of workers' protests, beginning on Wednesday at Nissan's Zona Franca offices, and continuing throughout the month.

Along with a protest on February 19 outside the offices of the Spanish government's HQ, workers intend to protest during the Mobile World Congress, between February 24 and 27.

Losing Nissan would be "a very tough blow"

This week, the head of the Automotive Industry Cluster of Catalonia (CIAC), Josep Maria Vall, warned that losing the Barcelona Nissan plant would be "a very tough blow."

The second-largest industrial firm in Catalonia, Nissan is an important driver of the economy, employing 5,000 people, and indirectly accounting for another 15,000 jobs.

Last week, business minister Àngels Chacón said "we're doing everything we can in the circumstances," and said the Catalan executive is in "permanent" contact with the firm.

Plans to sell European plants "false"

At the end of last year, Chacón visited Nissan executives in Japan and said reports suggesting that the firm wants to sell its plants in the UK and Catalonia were "false."

At the time, the government argued that it makes no sense for Nissan to leave Catalonia after it had announced a 70-million-euro investment in new facilities. 

Nissan workers went on strike in July over the firm's intention to lay off 12,500 workers worldwide, but a deal was reached in which the Barcelona plant will shed 600 employees through early retirements and voluntary redundancies.

The latest uncertainty over the future of the Barcelona plant has led Nissan to commission a feasibility study, the results of which it says will be made public before the summer.