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Catalan government asks Nissan to 'reconsider' closure of plants

President Torra says he and Spanish president are committed to addressing situation together

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28 May 2020 03:17 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

The Catalan government has urged Nissan to "reconsider" their plans to close all of their plants in Catalonia.

In a press conference on Thursday afternoon, President Quim Torra said that his cabinet rejects the Japanese carmaker's decision and added that they will back the workers and their families.

"We will do everything in our hands to avoid the closure of the plants in December and to find solutions to the current situation," he emphasized.

Torra also revealed that he and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez had spoken over phone Thursday morning and that they were both committed to addressing the situation together: "All administrations need to work together."

Catalan and Spanish authorities join forces

Spain's authorities also sided against the carmaker's move. Madrid intends to host a meeting with Catalan authorities, the Barcelona city council, and the Zona Franca industrial estate consortium, which is where the main Nissan plant is located.

As for Torra, he announced that he would also meet workers', unions' and business associations' representatives as soon as Thursday evening.

His vice president, Pere Aragonès, added that a "technical office" will be launched within the executive so that several departments work together on the matter.

Aragonès revealed that, in a conversation with the company's European leaders, he had asked them to "reconsider" their decision.

"We've sent them a clear message: they can't just take up and leave, they must take responsibility for the people, companies, and places they want to leave behind."

Business minister: 'We are upset by this disregard'

While bringing up the fact that the Catalan cabinet has allocated €25m over the past 15 years to protecting jobs, business minister Àngels Chacón said: "We are upset by this disregard not only for workers but also for the entire Catalan automotive ecosystem."

Chacón accused the firm of being "disloyal" and of being "erratic."

Work minister Chakir el Homrani spoke in the same vein: "We will make sure Nissan complies with its legal obligations to the people, country, and society that have been with it for over 40 years."

El Homrani also suggested that Spain should modify labor laws to dissuade companies from leaving.

Barcelona's mayor stands for green energy industries

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau supported the same position. According to her, Nissan's decision to close its plant in the Catalan capital is "very bad news," and has asked the company to reconsider.

She also insisted on the need for the automotive industry to transition to green energy sources – this comes a few days after one of her councilors said authorities should "prevent the reactivation" of the automobile sector for the sake of the environment.

CUP: 'Nationalizing' Nissan

As for CUP, the opposition far-left party asked for a "nationalization" of Nissan and a "production with ecologic criteria." 

"Facing multinational companies only interested in their profit, we need to respond at all levels," said the pro-independence party's Twitter account. 

Unionist parties blame independence movement

Meanwhile, the head of unionist party Ciudadanos in Catalonia, Lorena Roldán, was quick to point the blame at the Catalan independence movement, claiming it has motivated the Japanese company to leave.

"Seeing traffic on Avinguda Meridiana blocked by protesters or the Catalan president calling for self-determination cannot have helped at all," the politician argued. 

The Catalan People's Party brought up similar issues. "Images of Barcelona burning do not help. They're destroying Catalonia," the party's leader in Catalonia, Alejandro Fernández, said in reference to the post-conviction protests that took place last October against the sentencing of the 2017 independence referendum leaders. Fernández also mentioned the role of Colau's "anti-industry discourse" behind Nissan's decision. 

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  • From left to right: labor minister Chakir El Homrani, business minister Àngels Chacón, president Quim Torra and vice president Pere Aragonès

  • From left to right: labor minister Chakir El Homrani, business minister Àngels Chacón, president Quim Torra and vice president Pere Aragonès

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