In Spain, the industry is concerned about its future post-pandemic

En Espagne, l'industrie s'inquiète sur son avenir post-pandémie

MADRID | Three thousand jobs at Nissan, five hundred in the aluminum: pandemic and containment have precipitate decisions to close factories in Spain where the future of the industry concerned.

Last week, a mob of employees angry demonstrator in front of the factory Nissan in Barcelona, after the announcement of the group’s decision to close in December, eliminating 3 000 direct jobs and about 22 000 indirect according to the trade unions.

At the same time, tyres were burning before the site of the american manufacturer of aluminium Alcoa in Lugo in Galicia (north-west), where the multinational account delete 534 jobs and stop the quasi-totality of the production of the two factories in the complex.

The american Ford threw him a plan of voluntary departures of 350 positions to its plant in Valencia.

In this context of bitter, the head of government Pedro Sanchez announced a support plan for the automotive sector was in preparation.

The unions are afraid of them for the steel industry and the aluminum, already badly in point.

“The emergency is to determine what are the strategic sectors in our country and know that it will be necessary to help these companies so that they are competitive,” says Pedro Hojas, secretary general of the UGT union-Fica, believing that such planning is sorely lacking.

“Big failure”

The Spanish industry, which employs six million people, has suffered a long period of disinterest of the public authorities in a country where economic development has been much focus on the construction and tourism denounce unions and economists.

However, industrial jobs are generally more stable and better paid than the average, while one third of the jobs in Spain are temporary.

“The industry is the great failure of the Spanish economy of the last twenty years (…) The coronavirus is the last chance to make us aware of the importance of industrial policy,” warns Xavier Ferras, professor at the Esade business school.

For Fernando Fernandez, professor, IE business school, the closure of the aluminum plant of Alcoa was a “death foretold”. The plant wasteful of energy in a country where electricity is expensive.

“The COVID accelerates a process that goes back a long time,” says-t it.

The automotive sector, a pillar of the Spanish economy in that it provides 10% of its GDP, was hit hard when he was already enmeshed in the difficult transition to the electric car.

Automotive sector “confused”

After the entry into force of containment in mid-march, all the automotive plants in Spain, the second manufacturer in europe after Germany, have been put off for several weeks.

“The automotive sector was dragging on already the problem of adapting to a new market (…) This process of change is accelerating, because there are more sales,” emphasizes José Manuel Casado, a specialist in industrial policies for the trade union workers ‘ Commissions.

“While the automotive sector has been subject to a termination without precedent, they are completely confused and all the brands redistribute their operations,” adds Xavier Ferras.

The recovery plan of the alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, for example, plans to refocus Nissan China, Japan, and North America, while Renault will concentrate on Europe.

Even if many of the automotive plants in spain are much more competitive than that of Nissan, their business depends in large part on exports and the health of large global brands.

However, “the COVID causes a repositioning brutal of all european strategies in a country that depends on the decisions of outside firms,” said Mr. Fernandez.

Spain depends on far more foreign that she suffers from a severe delay of investment in research and development, which makes it even more difficult to close factories and centres of decision-making, writes Xavier Ferras: it dedicates 1 % of its GDP, against 3% in average in the european Union, according to him.

The renewable energy industry, wind turbines in mind, as well as that of automotive components, least affected by the changes in the industry, however, could hold their own in the game, says Fernando Fernandez.

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