Shipbuilders take to streets once more

18th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 November 2004, MADRID-Unions in the troubled state shipbuilding company Izar have called on the Spanish government to intervene to save the company.

18 November 2004

MADRID-Unions in the troubled state shipbuilding company Izar have called on the Spanish government to intervene to save the company.

Manuel Fernandez, secretary general of the MCA-UGT union, called on prime minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's administration to intervene.

Meanwhile, workers took to the streets again to protest after the EC rejected a deal proposed by  Izar last month.

At docks across Spain, workers closed roads and set up barricades.

Izar workers are claiming that the row is not a "technical" or "economic" one, but a "political" one in which the government should become involved.

However, Spanish government sources said that SEPI, the state-run body managing Izar, represents the stance of the government.

The long-running dispute is seen as the first test for Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has repeatedly promised to "save the shipworkers' jobs" and not to "abandon them".

On Tuesday, 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.

SEPI told the unions it wanted to revert to an earlier plan to keep state-control of the military arm of the company and sell Izar's civil arm to private investors – something the unions fear will bring job losses.

SEPI has said the unions have until 1 January to make a decision on the proposal, by which time Izar must pay back EUR 376 million of EC aid which was later found to be illegal as it breached competition rules.

If the company does not repay the cash by then, Izar faces liquidation.

In fact, the EC will demand the Spanish government repays a total of y EUR 550m in aid which was illegally paid to struggling state shipbuilding firm Izar.

The EC will ask for the cash plus interest to be repaid despite Izar's current industrial problems.

The total bill which Izar faces, with interest included, will be EUR 1.2 billion.

Izar has been badly hit by competition from Asia.

In a serious of violent strikes, workers have opposed plans to sell of the company to the private sector as they fear it will mean some of the 10,700-strong workforce will lose their jobs.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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