We now expect swift EU action and stand ready to work for consensual solutions with the company, the EU and with the Spanish public authorities.

Prompted by the announced closure of Nissan’s three Catalan plants, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit held an online meeting – at the request of industriAll Europe – on Friday 3 June with representatives of the three Spanish unions represented in the company, CC.OO, USO and UGT, the leadership of industriAll Europe as well as the trade union coordinator of Nissan’s EWC. The meeting followed several prior trade union initiatives regarding Nissan, including a letter of solidarity to the Nissan workers in Barcelona written jointly by industriAll Europe and its sister organisation industriALL Global Union, as well as our letters to Commissioners Schmit and Breton (for the Internal Market). 

The three plants (Zona Franca, Montcada i Reixac and Sant Andreu de la Barca) directly employ more than 3,000 workers and up to 20,000 in the supply chain. With blatant disregard for European social dialogue, the announcement came as a complete shock to Barcelona workers and trade unions, as well as to the European Works Council who had not been informed and consulted during the review process Nissan conducted prior to its decision. IndustriAll Europe and its affiliates do not intend to accept a fait accompli quietly, be it in the case of Nissan’s decision or any restructuring decision multinationals may take in Europe!

The meeting with Commissioner Schmit took place in a very constructive atmosphere and led to the formulation of three concrete demands from the trade union delegation towards the European Commission, sent to the Commission in a letter today:

  1. Nissan, and all multinational companies, must be made aware about their legal obligations to inform and consult workers before any decision affecting them is made. European trade unions are alarmed that this obligation is all too often ignored and insist that especially in the current context of massive restructuring expected due to the economic crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies comply strictly with their obligations.
  2. A European Commission Task Force on Nissan should be set up to ensure all possible EU resources are pooled to support Barcelona’s workers and wider industrial region. Such a Task Force should assist the (local and national) Spanish authorities and trade unions in making use of all existing EU legal and financial instruments to avoid further deindustrialisation in the region and to support workers. It should coordinate EU initiatives by involving all relevant DGs that can aid those impacted by Nissan’s decision, particularly DG Employment and DG Internal Market, responsible for European industry.
  3. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement contains labour related provisions that must be used to support workers. IndustriAll Europe therefore urges the European Commission to use relevant provisions of the agreement that force trading partners to respect workers’ rights. The impact of the agreement on the automotive sector and workers in the EU must also be closely monitored.

Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe’s General Secretary comments:

“We greatly appreciate the willingness of Commissioner Schmit to engage in direct dialogue with the Nissan workers represented by their trade unions. The automotive sector is facing a number of broader challenges that industry and unions have jointly highlighted and that need to be addressed, but workers in each specific restructuring case should expect their basis rights to be respected and a maximum of support to be mobilised to mitigate the social impact. This is how we avoid an economic crisis turning into a massive social crisis. We now expect swift EU action and stand ready to work for consensual solutions with the company, the EU and with the Spanish public authorities.”

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley press & communication, Aline Conchon senior adviser company policy, Benjamin Denis adviser automotive sector

Letter to Commissioner Schmit in PDF