Seat plans to dismiss 230 or 19% of the 1,200 workers at its gearbox unit in Barcelona on the back of slumping demand, a trades union official confirmed to just-auto on Thursday.

"There are problems with demand at the factory and the company and our team are studying what to do," he said.

Representatives of large Spanish union UGT have rejected Seat's plans and hope that the company will introduce "non-traumatic" measures, UGT-Seat Secretary General Matias Carnero was quoted as saying by Spanish newswire Europapress.

Officials at Seat, a Volkswagen unit, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The UGT official, who requested anonymity, said UGT wants Seat to offer workers temporary redundancies and to implement a programme to better match productivity with demand.

The gearbox plant, located in the industrial town of El Pratt de Llobregat next to Barcelona's airport, is reportedly forecast to make 415,00 gearboxes this year, down from 494,000 in 2004. The subsidiary lost €5.5m last year, according to Barcelona-based newspaper La Gaceta de Los Negocios.

Ivan Castano