EC concerns over plan to save Izar
17 December 2004, MADRID-The European Commission has said it has "real concerns" about a plan reached to save the struggling Spanish shipbuilding giant Izar.
17 December 2004
MADRID-The European Commission has said it has "real concerns" about a plan reached to save the struggling Spanish shipbuilding giant Izar.
The EC says it will study in detail the deal forged between the Spanish government industrial holding company SEPI and shipyard unions over the future of Izar.
On Thursday, SEPI and the unions said they had reached an agreement to save the industry based on early retirement for 4,050 of the 10,700 workforce.
The agreement, reached after five hours of negotiations, is designed to ensure the viability of public shipyards while splitting off military and civilian work at the yards.
The early retirement plan will be pushed through for employees older than 52 as the workforce shrinks by some 40 percent.
The future of the whole sector had hung in the balance following European Union demands that Izar repay EUR 300 million (USD 372.8m) of aid which Brussels says breached EU competition rules.
The sector is also struggling in the face of fierce competition from Asia.
Unions had been opposed to splitting the civilian and military use sites -the latter being more profitable -- but had to give ground.
However, two regional unions from the northwestern region of Galicia and another from the northern Basque region, both representing Spain's traditional shipbuilding heartland, did not sign up to the accord, negotiated by the main CCOO and UGT unions.
Last month, workers took to the streets to protest after the EC rejected a deal proposed by Izar in October.
The EC rejected a plan to sell-off 21 percent of the civil arm of Izar and keep 49 percent as state-owned. The civil arm of the company has been struggling to make money.
The long-running dispute has been seen as the first test for Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has repeatedly promised to "save the ship workers' jobs" and not to "abandon them".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news