This fight also demonstrates that ill-thought through, unilateral management decisions which put thousands of jobs at risk at previously profitable plants can be overturned when unity among workers, trade unions and policymakers brings about effective counterweight.”

After a long fight which took every ounce of union and worker energy, Nissan workers have finally succeeded in defeating the management plan to shut down the three Nissan Barcelona plants by December 2020 and delivered a social plan for every worker! 

In early May, while the world was struggling with a global pandemic and its unprecedented health, social and economic consequences, Nissan’s management caught everyone by surprise by announcing its intention to shut down three of its most profitable plants, all in Barcelona. The news sparked a massive shockwave throughout Spain and, more broadly, Europe as it meant jeopardizing the future of 3,000 direct jobs and more than 20,000 jobs through the local supply chain. The blatant disregard of Nissan’s legal obligations to inform and consult worker representatives and discuss alternatives before making such a substantial announcement added to the outrage. 

The trade union response was immediate! Action took place across Spain at the joint call from FI USO, UGT FICA and CCOO de industria, and Spanish politicians at the Spanish and European Parliaments expressed their full support. IndustriAll European Trade Union and IndustriALL Global Union swiftly sent joint solidarity messages. IndustriAll Europe directly addressed European policymakers, including during an online meeting with Commissioner Schmit, and supported the coordination amongst Nissan’s Barcelona unions, industriAll Europe coordinator to the Nissan’s European works council as well as Renault’s headquarters trade unions in France. 

Following three months of struggle and after tough negotiations which took place in Barcelona, an agreement was eventually reached early August which ensures the continuity of Nissan’s activity in Barcelona and a ban on forced redundancies until end of December 2021. Until then, Nissan workers can benefit from early retirement schemes for workers aged +51 years-old and plans for voluntary departures. That new timespan will give local trade unions and public authorities enough time to devise a robust re-industrialisation project for the sites. 

Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe General Secretary said:
“IndustriAll Europe salutes the determination of Nissan’s workers and trade unions who fought tirelessly over the past months to secure their jobs and industry in Barcelona. This fight demonstrates perfectly how much trade union action and solidarity across borders can deliver for Europe’s industrial workers. Trade union representatives at Nissan Spain, at Nissan European Works Council, but also at Renault headquarters, as well as industriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global Union all joined their forces to unconditionally support colleagues at Barcelona. This fight also demonstrates that ill-thought through, unilateral management decisions which put thousands of jobs at risk at previously profitable plants can be overturned when unity among workers, trade unions and policymakers brings about effective counterweight.”

“The truth is though, that we should not have to wage such fights, we should not be forced to react so strongly to mismanagement of multinational companies. Instead, we must be able to rely on high quality social dialogue and democracy at the workplace, through which workers and their trade union representatives get a chance at anticipating and shaping the future of their companies in social and sustainable ways. Instruments do exist such as national and European rights for workers to be informed and consulted well in advance of a massive change at the workplace. We regret that increasing numbers of companies, like Nissan, discard those rights and urge once more the European Commission to take swift action to ensure proper compliance and enforcement of workers’ involvement rights”. 

Also read industriAll Europe's statement 'For a recovery of the European automotive sector and its workers': EN, FR, DE and related web article.
Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley press & communication, Aline Conchon senior adviser company policy, Benjamin Denis adviser automotive sector