Volkswagen's Spainish unit Seat has offered to rehire 66 workers fired under its controversial 2005 redundancy plan that to axe 660 jobs from its Martorell, Barcelona factory, a company union chief told just-auto.

The announcement came after Martorell workers staged hunger strikes for two weeks starting 4 February.

Some workers lost up to 10 pounds while a few fell ill because of the actions, the union official said. He expects only 23 of the 66 workers offered jobs to come back to Seat which has so far rehired over 550.

In a statement, Seat said nothing about the strikes, mentioning only that the workers were invited back following negotiations with unions.

Last Tuesday, Spain's three largest unions, UGT, CCOO and CGT, scrapped a 24-hour strike plan for 23 and 24 February to protest against Seat's refusal to reinstate the 66 jobs.

Ivan Castano Freeman