Seat has delayed plans to fire 230 workers from its gearbox unit and will negotiate less traumatic measures with labour unions, just-auto has learned.

Matias Carnero, secretary general for union UGT's Seat division, said the car maker and unions will meet in coming days to find a way to save workers' jobs. Unions are demanding that Seat implement a temporary redundancy scheme or bring new products into the plant, Carnero said.

The plant makes the MQ200 gearbox for Seat and Volkswagen models. Demand for the transmission, fitted to smaller and less powerful models, has fallen in favour of the MQ250, used in more up-market cars, Carnero added.

"We have requested that Seat allow us to make the MQ250 or study the manufacture of other components such as brake pedals or fenders at the factory" Carnero said. "We hope to have an agreement in one month."

Seat officials were not immediately available for comment.

Seat has invested €12m to transfer over 300 workers from its nearby smelting facility to the gearbox factory, Carnero said. The move follows Seat's promise to return certain land to the local government.

Ivan Castano