Nissan and unions are negotiating a salary drop to keep current jobs in Barcelona and add 1,000 more
Nissan is considering allocating the production of a new sedan car to its Catalan plant: a €130 million investment creating 1,000 direct and 3,000 indirect new jobs. However, the company is asking for salaries and working conditions to be adjusted in order to increase competitiveness. Barcelona hosts one of the main factories the Japanese automotive company has in Europe and in May it allocated the construction of a new pickup model, after a previous modification to the working conditions. The talks for the new adjustment have been ongoing since the summer but now they are at a crucial moment, since Nissan is about to make its final decision. The company has just made a counter-offer based on a minor and more progressive salary drop. In addition, it warns unions that without the new model, the company will have to lay off 600 workers as from next year.
Barcelona (ACN).- Nissan’s plant in Barcelona might produce a new sedan car as from 2014 if the company and the trade unions reach an agreement to adjust salaries and working conditions to increase competitiveness. Nissan and the workers’ representatives have been in negotiations since last summer, but now it seems the talks are approaching a crucial moment, since the Japanese company is about to make its final decision. Barcelona hosts one of the main factories Nissan has in Europe. In May, the car manufacturer allocated the construction of a new pickup model to its Catalan plant, after a previous adjustment to the working conditions. However, the company has warned unions that further modifications are needed in order to guarantee the current jobs, attract new investments and generate more jobs. The construction of the new sedan model would represent a €130 million investment and the creation of 4,000 new jobs: 1,000 direct positions and 3,000 indirect ones. 82,000 car units of the new model would be produced per year and the Catalan factory would assemble more than 200,000 cars per year overall. One trade union, the Workers Commissions (CCOO), is strongly blocking the agreement as the adjustment would mean a dual wage scale among workers, as new employees would have an inferior salary for the same job. On Thursday, the company made a counter-offer with a minor and more progressive salary drop. In addition, Nissan has warned unions that without the new model in Barcelona, the company will have to lay off 600 workers as from next year because older models will stop being built. The Catalan Government is mediating in order to attract Nissan’s investment and guarantee a satisfactory solution for the workers.
The company is proposing reducing the salary of new workers by 30% in relation to the current ones. This is the main obstacle in the talks, since unions – and in particular CCOO – do not accept a dual salary scale for the same type of job. The company’s initial proposal was to reduce the gross domestic salaries of new workers to €18,000 per year, reaching a top amount of €25,000 gross after 5 years. The discrepancy between them and the current workers would have been €7,000 gross per year. Now, in its counter-offer, Nissan is offering €19,900 gross at the start of the contract and gradually after 7 years, they would reach €29,000 gross. On Friday the workers’ representatives will vote on the new proposal and it seems that CCOO would accept the new offer on the condition that the company’s workers accept it previously.
An “imminent” decision
Nissan has confirmed to ACN that the decision about where to build the new car model is “imminent”, and therefore the talks to improve the competitiveness of its Barcelona plant are reaching the final stage. According to the company, if the unions do not accept the last offer, Barcelona’s plant will not built the new model and will start to decline production, as some of the older models will gradually stop being produced in the coming year. In fact, if the new sedan model is not allocated to the Catalan plant, Nissan will file a mass lay off for 600 workers as from next year.
Without the salary drop, 600 jobs will be lost in 2013 and 2014
Nissan’s General Director in Spain, Frank Torres, warned the plant staff, and especially the unions, that reaching an agreement to improve the competitiveness of the Zona Franca Plant is not only necessary to attract new jobs but to secure the existing ones. If the new sedan car is not to be built in Barcelona, 400 temporary workers will be laid off in 2013 and 200 in 2014. In addition, 750 would be affected by a temporary mass lay off as from 2014, since that year Barcelona plant would stop producing two of the current four models.
With the new car the Catalan plant would “join the Champions League”
However, with the new sedan, the Catalan factory would “join the Champions League” of car manufacturing, as it would produce industrial vehicles, crossovers and sedans. It would be the first time that the Barcelona plant has a sedan in production. In addition, the factory would assemble more than 200,000 cars per year overall, reaching its highest productivity level.