KOPRIVNICE, Czech Republic Labor union opposition has forced Dura Automotive to revise plans to shift production here from elsewhere in Europe.
In February 2001, the parts supplier said it would build a Czech greenfield plant and move operations from other European sites including Spain and Portugal. The plan called for about 500 workers at the Czech plant by the first half of 2002: 50 to 60 white-collar workers, 50 blue-collar support staff, and 300 to 380 production workers.
But more than a year after production was supposed to be booming, Dura must still certify an assembly line to employ its first 10 operators.
There were problems with labor unions in Spain, said Jan Koliba, director of the business development department for the city of Koprivnice.
Dura managers were not willing to discuss details, but Dura plants in Spain: VOFA in Barcelona and Dura Automotive Systems in Pamplona. Dura Automotives world headquarters is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
The first part of the plan was completed. Dura purchased land in Koprivnices industrial zone in early 2001 and built a 10,000-square-meter plant. According to a US State Department publication, Dura planned to invest $12 million (E10.2 million).
But production has lagged. The first component, gearshifts for Volkswagen, will be produced starting later this summer.
There were some troubles and a change of plan, said Milan Burget, Dura human resources director.
Duras revised plan called for the slower introduction of completely new products, instead of relocating production from other European sites. Dura expects to add more new projects this year at Koprivnice, enough for 40 to 50 new jobs. Dura said the nearly empty production hall is not a problem.
The space will be filled step by step, said Burget.
Dura has other central Europe plants in its body and glass division. In the Czech Republic, Dura has facilities in Blatna and Strakonice. Another Dura plant opened two years ago in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Meanwhile, the city waits for the industrial park to fill. The Koprivnice economy has traditionally centered on Tatra, a producer of heavy duty air-cooled trucks. Following a decade of cutbacks at Tatra, unemployment in Koprivnice is about 25 percent.
Next to the Dura site, a foundry is being built by Holland-based Cirex. This summer, Cirex will move operations there from inside the nearby Tatra factory to make precision lost-wax castings. Its customers include Iveco and Fiat.
But that still leaves 80 hectares in the city-owned industrial zone unsold. Koliba is constantly hunting for prospects.
He asks: Do you know of any foreign investors?