13 May 2004
BARCELONA – The president of Spanish car giant Seat said Thursday the production of 10 percent of one of the firm’s leading models is to return to Catalonia from a plant in Slovakia.
Andreas Schleef said part of the production of the Ibiza model is to be moved back to the firm’s plant in Martorell, near Barcelona.
At present it has been made at the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Seat, one of Catalonia’s biggest manufacturers, has been locked in talks with workers for at least two months over working conditions.
At one point the firm threatened to sack 415 workers, but later backed down.
Moving part of its production from Slovakia to Spain bucks the trend among multi-nationals and appears to safeguard threatened jobs.
Electronics giant Samsung closed down its plant in Catalonia to cut costs and moved over 100 workers to Slovakia where labour costs are lower.
Another multi-national Philips also closed its plant and moved its works to China in a similar move earlier this year.
Schleef said this move would allow the company to confront problems of costs because “this is already not the Seat that it was two years ago”.
Schleef said the plant near Barcelona would recuperate the loss of the 20,000 Ibiza cars which had been made there before.
After the agreement, shop steward Matías Carnero said he would be discussing the move at a meeting of all the Volkswagen union bosses next month.
Seat, which is part of the VW group, employs 13,000 workers in Catalonia, north-east Spain.
Schleef said: “The key is flexibility but at the same time maintaining the level of salaries and the number of jobs.”
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news