In the firm Roca Tiles, located in the Vall d'Uixò, they are applying these days a temporary employment regulation file. “We are like almost 99 percent of the companies in the area, with an ERTE that is applied depending on the opening of the furnace closure, because sometimes manufacturing is more expensive than not selling,” explain sources from this company. The plant is currently operating at 60%, so the situation affects a third of the workforce: more than 200 workers.
There are more cases, such as Peronda, based in Onda, which also has stopped furnaces, or Azuliber, from Grupo Pamesa, with its 117 employees are in ERTE. From the UGT union they indicate that it is difficult to know right now how many companies there are in ERTE in this sector, because some have been in this situation for months, while others have just joined. Until June there were more than thirty.
In total, the ceramic cluster of the Valencian Community is made up of 248 companies for which the situation is getting complicated. "If prices don't drop, let's hope we don't have to see ourselves doomed to the ERE", explains Vicente Chiva, general secretary of the Federation of Industry of UGT in Castellón, which these days negotiates the different temporary employment regulation files "of the best way possible," he says.
In his opinion, beyond the aid that the employers' association ASCER has already requested from the Government, it would be key for the latter to accept activating the RED Mechanism for the ceramic sector, a measure to make employment more flexible and stabilized - activated by the Council of Ministers - to a sector of the economy or for a given time cycle. "They have approved it for travel agencies and I believe that the ceramics sector is in a position to take advantage of this measure, since it allows the worker not to consume unemployment and it would be an important buffer for the workers in the sector," he maintains.
At Roca Tiles they say that they are avoiding the risk of making losses, so they admit that the planning is changing every month: "We are losing a lot of competitiveness and every day we have to plan the business because as an industry we are quite helpless", they add from the company, integrated within the Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Ceramic Tiles and Pavements (ASCER), with whose argument they are fully aligned because they share "the concern about the rise in energy and the way in which it compromises the future viability of companies".
The employers participated this Monday in a meeting with the ministers of Energy Transition and Industry on the Contingency Plan that the Executive will send to Brussels, and to them they explained the needs of the industry in a context of rising prices after the closure of Russia to the North Stream 1 and the energy companies negotiating new contracts at the highest level.
As a result of these requests, President Pedro Sánchez announced yesterday in the Senate that the large industry that uses cogeneration will be temporarily covered by the gas cap compensation mechanism, known as the 'Iberian exception', as reported by EFE.
In his speech in the Upper House to report on the measures to deal with the energy and price crisis, Sánchez advanced that the Government will approve "an exception for the cogeneration facilities of industries with large gas consumption, allowing temporary are covered by the Iberian mechanism".
The move has been welcomed by businesses. ASCER explained yesterday that "it is positive for the sector, but fundamentally what it does is correct a mistake and correct an unfair situation that cogeneration in Spain was suffering". However, they maintain that the situation for the gas-intensive industry "is still far from being resolved if we continue with the current gas price levels and without other effective support measures."
Likewise, ASCER demanded on Monday that the Government modify the temporary framework of State aid so that the ceramic sector can benefit from aid that they branded as "more ambitious" than the proposals to date. They would be up to 50 million euros, a much larger margin than the amount granted in aid for the month of March, which is up to 400,000 euros per company.
About these, ASCER denounced in June that the Government had not paid within the announced time -the date was June 3-, but from the Ministry of Finance they replied that the date was estimated because the payments could not be made until it was concluded. processing, because there had to be a prior assessment of the documents provided by the interested parties.
Three months later, ASCER explained to La Vanguardia that the majority of the companies have already received this aid, although the payments have not been "as agile as expected if we take into account that they were urgent aid."
With all that, the business association estimates that there are still about 15 companies that have not yet been paid, as they are in the process of making allegations or correcting errors.