Tough struggle at Seat

Unions want to prevent job losses -- plant not working to capacity

Barcelona. Spanish unions and Volkswagen subsidiary Seat's management hope to end their fight over a new collective wage agreement this week. The dispute has been going on for several months.

Seat officials said that the level of weekend pay is one of the points that still need to be negotiated. The unions, however, have a few more issues they want to discuss.

Ten days ago, on April 16, approximately 15,000 Seat employees in Barcelona staged a 24-hour warning strike. Such a strike hasn't taken place at the plant in seven years. Production of about 2,000 vehicles was lost due to the strike.

The reason for the strike was that employees hope to receive job guarantees from the Seat management board, which is headed by Andreas Schleef.

Matias Carnero, chairman of the Seat Martorell plant's works council, said that 415 workers currently do not have enough work. That is why Seat wants to annul its employees' contracts for certain periods of time and have the employees come to work every other month until April 2005.

The unions refuse to accept this proposal. They will only accept the collective wage agreement if the management board abandons the plan.

Instead, they hope to revive a working-hours agreement from June 2003. At that time, about 1,000 workers were laid off after production ended on the Seat Inca and the VW Caddy light commercial vehicles. However, their wages were paid in full. The employees worked off the pre-paid hours when production of the Seat Althea minivan started in March.

The unions also demand that Martorell once again become the sole production plant for the Seat Ibiza. Schleef had moved 10 percent of the Ibiza production, approximately 20,000 units, to VW's Bratislava, Slovakia, plant in 2002 after Seat employees refused to work additional shifts for the model.

Despite this "warning shot," employees demand a 2 percent wage increase and, from 2006, one working day less per year, with wages remaining the same. According to the head of the works council, Carnero, Seat wants to defer such an arrangement until 2009.

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.