SPAIN: Nissan Barcelona fights to win make-or-break pickup

By Ivan Castano | 6 December 2010

Unions want Navara replacement built in Spain

Unions want Navara replacement built in Spain

Unions at Nissan Spain's factory in Barcelona are demanding the company negotiate new wage cuts and productivity improvements at the site to help it win the European assembly of the Japanese automaker's next pickup truck.

If it fails to snatch the contract, the factory will lose EUR80m worth of investments and 600,000 new cars a year that would safeguard employment for 10 years. With the current line up, the site's 1,300 workers would only be busy until late 2011 so the contract is likely to trigger a political melodrama in the Catalonia region home to Barcelona.

Nissan recently said the Barcelona site was too expensive a spot to manufacture the new vehicle (details have not yet been disclosed) and that it will look for alternative sites in Europe with a decision due in a month. Nissan is also looking for sites in Thailand, Mexico and South Africa to build the truck for Asia, Latin America and Africa.

In a statement, leading union UGT said it would continue to fight to win the new car and asked Nissan Spain's management to "get a grip on its strategy and sit at the negotiating table to find ways to get the new [truck] to Barcelona."

Unions had previously denied management's "unfeasible" wage concessions to win the deal including three years of frozen wages (no seniority pay) and having to work five Saturdays more a year and one hour more per day. This is similar to what South Africa has offered to build the vehicle for the African market.

The union added management has failed to call a proper negotiating schedule and has "blackmailed" workers.

Other union Usoc boss Pedro Ayllon said Nissan has given itself another month to hedge its negotiating power with its European sites to find the cheapest way to make the new vehicle.

He said Barcelona is the best European site to build it as St. Petersburg has higher logistic and transport costs while the UK factory is already working at maximum capacity.