Shipyard workers, bosses reach deal

20th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 October 2004, MADRID - Spanish shipyard workers and employers reached a basic agreement Wednesday to save an industry which employs 10,700 people, an employers' spokesman said.

20 October 2004

MADRID - Spanish shipyard workers and employers reached a basic agreement Wednesday to save an industry which employs 10,700 people, an employers' spokesman said.

The future of 10 yards controlled by Izar shipyards, owned by government industrial holding company SEPI, has hung in the balance amid European Union demands that Izar repay EUR 300 million of aid which Brussels says breached EU competition rules.

The sector is also struggling in the face of fierce competition from Asia.

But a SEPI spokesman said an agreement had been reached after five hours of talks late Tuesday whereby the state would maintain a 70-percent capital stake in civilian yards initially earmarked for privatisation.

SEPI is, according to the draft agreement, due to maintain a 49 percent capital stake in the four civilian yards with public financial bodies such as savings banks holding a 21-percent stake.

The remaining 30 percent would be in the hands of private investors.

Both sides have also agreed to create a public holding company linking both the civilian and military yards, with the exception of one north-western site, but the SEPI spokesman said the exact nature of the holding had still to be ascertained.

Unions are opposed to splitting the civilian and military use sites - the latter being more profitable -- as foreseen by the initial restructuring plan.

SEPI and the unions are still trying to make headway on plans to bring new work to Izar's civilian use yards which have had no new orders in the past three years.

SEPI chairman Enrique Martinez Robles meanwhile told journalists he was optimistic on reaching a definitive agreement by year's end.

Aside from its problems with Brussels, Izar faced seeing the European Commission declare illegal later on Wednesday a further Spanish government aid package worth about EUR 550 million, according to a spokesman for EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti.

Recent weeks have seen violent clashes at some yards, particularly in the northwest and deep south, in protest at the plans to part-privatise shipyards.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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