The workers of Rhenus Automotive, a company with German capital that is an auxiliary to Ford, have spent the weekend standing guard at the gates of the factory located in Almussafes. Since this November they were informed that the company will execute an Employment Regulation File, the staff has been designing various actions, including the general strike that they propose this Tuesday. There are 116 people who will leave the company, some with more than 20 years of seniority, and an average age of 45 years.
According to Toni Olaya, the president of their works council, they were trying to prevent “the company from emptying the plant of material” and even the mayor of Almussafes, Toni González (PSPV), attended their protest to demand “the best possible conditions for the employees, as well as the maximum facilities and help.” No one can avoid the closure, Olaya acknowledges, but there is time to “come out with better conditions. In Saas or Lear they have managed to come out with good agreements,” he exemplifies, giving as a reference to other firms in the Ford auxiliary industry in Valencia that will also close their doors.
Olaya complains about the cost policy of the North American multinational and points out that, “although we have been a staff for many years, it is clear that we are now expensive. They are looking for lower costs and a younger workforce,” argues the trade unionist. In this scenario, Vicente Garcés, Industry representative at CCOO-PV, a union that also negotiated the Saas agreement, considers that “the situation is worrying,” but believes that “we must avoid focusing only on Ford because the automotive industry "It goes beyond."
The spokesperson for the union, with a presence at Ford Valencia but without representation on the committee since the last elections, considers that there is "an absence of definition on the part of Ford" and that "a clear industrial policy is lacking in the Valencian Country." For this reason, he calls for a “crash plan for the Valencian automotive industry”, which includes not only Ford but also the rest of the industries, whose jobs are multi-brand and which are in the midst of a process of technological change. “This is a sector that is going to be transformed and in that transformation we must maintain employment and retrain workers, qualify people,” defends Garcés.
The echoes of the UGT-PV wake-up call at Ford Valencia resonate throughout the sector since last Friday the union warned of the slowdown in the electrification plans that the multinational has yet to undertake at its Valencia plant.
UGT-PV, with majority representation, already wanted to make it clear that the transition process is lengthening and asked for guarantees from the company, with whom it signed - not without reluctance with the rest of the unions - the "Agreement for Electrification." Now it is the employees of Intersindical Valenciana who want to visualize the discomfort and concern about the management's plans and this Tuesday they will hold a rally at the factory barriers demanding "workload and guarantee of the future."
In this situation, the company responded on Friday that as the market behaves it will balance volume with demand "maintaining the focus on costs", but no word on the next plans for Almussafes. Meanwhile, the Valencian Government is cautious and its president, Carlos Mazón, only asks that the plans arrive “as soon as possible” for the peace of mind of the industry.
Likewise, the automotive and mobility cluster of the Valencian Community, AVIA, also remains cautious in the face of delays in the awarding of electric models to Ford Almussafes and hopes that "the news is produced officially by the company and its spokesmen". The current uncertainty mainly affects companies that are Tier 1 suppliers.
In an optimistic tone, AVIA trusts that both Ford and the rest of the automotive manufacturers perceive the Valencian Community as an "optimal territory for investments", with a competitive business fabric capable of being up to the task of new projects related to Mobility.
Likewise, it calls for joint work between administrations and private entities to achieve "the attraction of investments to the Valencian Community and, in this way, it becomes an industrial and mobility hub."