Lunch with someone who claims the redundancies in early 2008 at Frape-Behr’s Barcelona Zona Franca auto cooling systems plant were preceded by the following sequence of events:
- Summer 2007. Head office in Germany says 30% of the workforce must go for the plant to remain economic. Productivity is poor, and workers don’t like getting up in the morning–problems also experienced by the neighbouring Nissan and Seat factories.
- An internal management debate leads to this being presented to the workers as a need for a plant-wide 30% salary cut. The expectation is that self-interest will lead workers to call for 30% job cuts instead, relieving management of this task.
- The unions–bolshie but not very bright–tell management where to stick it.
- Management has foreseen this eventuality and says, OK, we’re sacking all 295 of you and moving production elsewhere.
- Lockins and direct action follow, and the regional government lurches on-stage like a pantomime horse.
- Unions and workers agree to 92 jobs going, which is to say 31% of the workforce.
Act II opens with a half a billion euro aid package for the local car industry, which was announced a few days ago and which has served inter alia to claw back some production that was Morocco-bound. Everyone except perhaps the regional government is apparently clear that Brussels will eventually declare much of this illegal, but for the moment the charade continues.
This excellent site by Fernando Abad contains much historical documentation and photos of the area and its people, including this history of Seat by José Sanz. This walk traverses briefly one of the district’s stranger residential developments, but things are a lot quieter now the gypsies and the attendant junkies have gone.
- For a change, some German eurosceptic ranters
Hypothesis: Spanish is easier than German, economics 101 appears easier than politics, and so the political problem of Germany’s role in Europe has, curiously, become a story about some blocks of flats in Valencia. And, since most of the English-language press can’t read Spanish either, they end up looking for solutions in the mantras of some cuddly American economist.
- If the Guardian really cared about the North and manufacturing, it would never have left Manchester
You want constitutional reform for the UK? Kalebeul has something for everyone, except mad thieving bastards.
- Betting on secession
A boring morning: I can’t find anyone who, following yesterday’s Catalan parliamentary elections, is prepared to bet against a ruling coalition consisting of conservative nationalists, Convergence and Union (CiU), and the secessionists, Republican Left (ERC). The conventional wisdom is that, in synch with their legal and proscribed Basque counterparts, their strategy is going to be …
- Proudfoot productivity study
Here (PDF) is a scary report which suggests that in Spain in the period 1995-2003 average annual growth in hours worked per person was 3.4% while labour productivity fell on average by 0.3%. That’s not good news with a shrinking, ageing workforce. Management planning and control is apparently the big problem, and I’m sure Proudfoot have …