Seat plans for temporary redundancies as health crisis begins to bite
In all, over 200 companies apply to lay off more than 24,000 workers amid calls for more financial help for small businesses
With automaker Seat presenting the procedure to temporarily lay off staff due to problems of "logistics and production," it seems that the impact of coronavirus is beginning to make itself felt on business in Catalonia.
Seat, which employs 14,800 people in Catalonia, submitted the collective dismissal plan to the labor authorities on Monday, although the measure would "only" affect those employees forced to stop work due to the pandemic.
Yet, Seat is not alone, as the number of companies registering temporary redundancy plans continues to rise, with the Catalan labor ministry saying on Wednesday that it had received 154 submissions on one day alone.
Meanwhile, as Ryanair warned it might have to ground the majority of its planes in Europe in the next few days because of the health crisis, unions reported on Monday that the low-cost carrier is preparing its own temporary lay-off plan for 1,500 employees across Spain.
On Thursday afternoon carmaker Nissan announced it was preparing to make more than 3,300 employees temporarily redundant. The Japanese company has said that they will provide a supplement so that affected staff could receive up to 80% of their salary.
As of Thursday, there are now some 597 temporary lay-off plans on the table due to the virus, affecting a total of 32,452 people in Catalonia, with over 30,000 of the proposed temporary redundancies in the Barcelona area.
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.