Number of firms planning temporary lay-offs continues to shoot up
More than 210,000 jobs at stake, the vast majority of which are in the Barcelona area
By Saturday, at least 16,957 companies in Catalonia had registered temporary redundancy plans with the labor ministry due to the coronavirus crisis, some 8,000 doing so on Thursday alone.
The huge jump in the number of firms wanting to temporarily lay off workers on account of the health crisis threatens the jobs of 210,332 people, the vast majority of which - almost 180,000 - are in the Barcelona area. Another 13,848 of these jobs are in Tarragona, 12,656 are in Girona and 5,591 are in Lleida.
One of the largest firms to submit a plan to temporarily dismiss staff due to problems of "logistics and production" caused by the coronavirus pandemic is Catalan automaker Seat, which employs some 14,800 people in Catalonia.
Meanwhile, another vehicle manufacturer, Nissan, informed unions on Thursday that it is about to submit its own plan to temporarily lay off 3,300 workers from its four plants in and around Barcelona.
Also on Thursday, Catalan clothing brand Desigual announced it had submitted a plan to temporarily lay off 1,359 employees working in its shops and its distribution centers in Gavà and Viladecans, south of Barcelona.
154 submissions in a single day
Since the start of the week, the number of firms in Catalonia announcing plans to temporarily lay off workers due to coronavirus has continued to rise, with the Catalan labor ministry saying on Wednesday that it had received 154 submissions on one day alone.
To add to that, unions reported on Monday that Ryanair, which says it will ground the majority of its planes in Europe in the next few days because of the health crisis, is preparing its own temporary lay-off plan for 1,500 employees across Spain.
However, Catalan pharmaceutical company Grifols has ruled out temporarily laying off any of its 4,134 employees in Spain, after it reached an agreement with unions to apply telecommuting and flexible working conditions instead.
Business association wants more credit for SMEs
The growing economic impact of the crisis led the Pimec business association on Monday to call on the Catalan government to expand its one billion euro credit line for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to between three and five billion.
According to the head of the association, Josep González, the billion euros of credit offered by the government is "insufficient." "We might have an earthquake, but after that we will have a tsunami if we halt economic activity," he said.
As well as asking for more credit to be made available to companies, Pimec is also calling for a temporary halt on social security payments by SMEs and monthly self-employment fees paid by freelance workers.
Hotels and restaurants write off Easter holidays
One of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis is the tourist industry, with many hotels and restaurants writing off the upcoming Easter holidays, which is traditionally seen as the start of the busy summer season, as a lost cause.
With Barcelona, for example, just about closed down due to the restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, the city council on Monday announced it would not levy the tourist tax until September, nor the pavement terrace tax on bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile, Fira de Barcelona, which organizes the fairs and congresses that have proved so lucrative for the Catalan capital in recent years, decided on Monday to postpone all upcoming events until the health crisis is over.