Renault Industrial Vehicles plans to dismiss all of the 500 workers employed at its Villareal, Madrid truck factory in 2006 to close the facility and open a new crankshaft factory, Clemente de la Casa, secretary general for big Spanish trades union UGT has confirmed to just-auto.

About 250 workers will leave the plant through early retirement while 150 will get jobs at the new factory south of Madrid. But unions are angry about the company's decision to dismiss 100 workers without benefits, De la Casa said, adding that they are meeting with the Madrid government today to plead the factory stays open and no-one loses their jobs.

Renault IV, a Volvo Group unit, wants to close the plant as part of a worldwide restructuring of the Swedish group's industrial vehicles franchise. It argues that the logistics involved to build trucks in Spain are very expensive, partly "because cabins and engines need to be imported from France," De la Casa said.

But, he adds, "We don't think it costs that much and we have better quality and prices than in other parts of Europe."

Volvo hopes to phase out production of the Kerax truck in Villareal and make a newer and more environmentally friendly model in an undisclosed French location, De la Casa pointed out. The facility expects to roll out 7,000 Kerax units this year, up
8.3% from 2003.

Renault IV will invest up to €40 million to build the new plant, which is expected to make 65,000 crankshafts per year and up to 100,000 later, for Renault, Volvo and Mack trucks, according to De la Casa.

Spanish unions, still negotiating a redundancy deal with Volvo, are asking the Swedish group to boost crankshaft output to 150,000 units to save as many
Villareal posts as possible.

Ivan  Castano