Freixenet's temporary layoffs plan rejected as drought not considered force majeure

Sparkling wine makers' scheme was expected to affect 615 workers

The entrance to Cavas Freixenet, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, pictured in 2018
The entrance to Cavas Freixenet, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, pictured in 2018 / Gemma Sánchez
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

April 29, 2024 03:36 PM

April 29, 2024 03:53 PM

The Catalan government has rejected the temporary layoff scheme of sparkling wine maker Freixenet that would have affected 615 workers.

The company presented the furlough plan to authorities arguing that the force majeure of the drought situation has severely affected their business, but the Catalan administration has rejected the appeal. 

The government informed the cava producer on Monday that it does not see the "unforeseeable and unavoidable" elements to justify force majeure.

These types of temporary furloughs to stop or reduce production can only be approved by the department of labor. This is not the case for temporary layoff schemes justified by economic, technical, organizational, or production reasons.

The Freixenet Group announced a week ago that it intended to start furlough in May, although the exact degree to which it would apply it would vary depending on the period of the year and the evolution of the drought.

According to the cava makers, the proposition was an "exercise of responsibility" that had the aim of "guaranteeing the operation of the business and preserving employability."

€1.23 billion turnover

Henkell Freixenet released their 2023 financial results two weeks ago, showing turnover of €1.23 billion, an increase of 4.1% compared to the previous year.

The wine company highlighted a growth of 6% in the sale of sparkling wines, a segment in which the company is an international leader, and an increase of 11% in spirits.

Conversely, popularity in still wines have fallen by 8%.

Trade union urges management to negotiate

The trade union CCOO agrees with the decision of the Catalan government to reject the furlough scheme.

The union has urged the management of the winemakers to sit "immediately" with workers' representatives "to negotiate the appropriate measures to deal with the situation, safeguarding employment and the future of the activity."

CCOO wants the Department of Agriculture and Climate Action to urge the Cava Regulatory Council to take the necessary measures to make cava production more flexible.