Spanish industry, tourism and commerce minister Miguel Sebastian has provided fresh assurances that the country will fight to ensure the stable and long term future of Opel´s Corsa/Meriva factory in Figuerelas, near Zaragoza.

In a statement, Sebastian said he would meet with representatives from Opel´s new owner Magna and with the German government this week to hammer out a deal to ensure the factory´s viabily based on "purely industrial and not political imperatives".

He said his government was not yet ready to put money behind Opel´s restructuring but would if necessary.

His comments came after Magna last week unveiled a new redundancy plan for the site that would see 1,350 workers leave the firm compared with the 1,700 sought in the original scheme, which triggered industrial action.

Sebastian´s assurances also came as the govenrment scrambles to deal with growing pressure from trades unions which have threatened strikes against further redundancies in Spain's key auto industry, Europe´s third largest.

Meanwhile, officials from the Castilla de Leon region said Nissan´s Avila factory would enjoy a level of support similar to the provided to Renault Valladolid earlier this month when the state helped broker a deal that saw the factory win new car models to ensure its future.

On Monday, Spain´s government was also said to be "seriously" pondering whether to renew its Plan 2000E auto aid package which the industry has been urging it to do to avoid further declines in car sales which have fallen to historic lows this year.

Ivan Castano

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