“Ball in Your Roof”

The Generalitat, employers and Ford itself, which announced the highest ERE for Almussafes, are demanding a mechanism that would allow exemption from paying contributions.

Ford’s Valencia plant workforce of about 8,000 is nearing an all-time low. The management of the car company yesterday raised the issue at the negotiating table with trade unions fourth ERE since 2020which would mean laying off a third of the workers currently working at the Almussafes plant.

In total, the initial estimate was that 1,622 people would be affected, prompting the Valencia Generalitat and regional employers to join forces to put pressure on the Pedro Sánchez government to demand activation of the so-called RED mechanism employment flexibility. Moreover, this is an option that the transnational corporation itself is leaning towards, as official sources confirmed to the newspaper, since it will imply an exemption from paying contributions. The goal is nothing more than last until 2027.

In fact, in three years it is planned that the Almussafes plant will take over production 300,000 units of the new hybrid model per year. The order is expected to bring the Valencia plant, whose electrification plans Ford is delaying, out of crisis. And this despite the fact that the German plant won the internal battle. Saarlouis. However, low demand for electric vehicles in the European market has forced Ford to delay its roadmap for Almussafes.

The delay in electrification in April was joined by Transit van production discontinued in Almussafes. If the last ERTE, still in force, was justified by the company due to the loss of this model and the subsequent reduction in workload, the arguments of the new ERE also point to this reason, as confirmed by union sources. Completion of Transit production along with transfer of production of EcoBoost engines to the USAwill force a workforce reduction of 30% at the automobile plant and 60% at the engine plant.

Of the 1,622 redundancies, 626 will be “finally incentivized,” according to the majority union UGT. The rest, up to 996, will be “objective layoffs with preference for rehiring in 2027”. This means that almost a thousand workers could become part of the pool that the company will turn to when the workload increases.

As for the works council president, Carlos Faubel (VGT), this proposal is “unacceptable” and “something too far, too complex and with little guarantee.”

Representative of STM-Intersindical at Ford Almussafes: Daniel Portillo, for his part, lamented the “terrible bomb” that the confirmation of the new ERE represents. Moreover, he emphasized that management is currently offering “priority recruitment rather than commitment to hiring.”

In any case, there is talk from Ford about a “transitional solution before the start of production of a new car.” Thus, the interviewed sources emphasize that the American multinational will support “the RED mechanism and any other flexibility tool.”

This mechanism, introduced by the 2021 labor reform, allows companies to retain their workers in exchange for paying lower contributions. Designed for sectors hit by cyclical crises, it leaves it up to companies to try to overcome them by reducing working hours or temporarily suspending employment contracts, while guaranteeing, of course, the continuation of employment.

“Years of Difficulty”

In any case, this mechanism can only be activated by the Council of Ministers, so for the Generalitat of Valencia “the ball is in the government’s court.” This is what the Minister of Industry said yesterday: Nuria Montes, in which chief Pedro Sánchez was considered to have “the ability to activate the RED mechanism for the entire sector.” He acknowledged there were “years of difficulty” ahead. There are fears that Ford’s crisis will spread like a domino effect to all its suppliers and the entire supporting industry.

This was stated by the President of the Valencian Employers Association CEV. Salvador Navarro, characterized what may be the largest ERE in Ford history as “very bad news with no palliatives.” “It would be beneficial if the automotive sector could rely on a RED assistance mechanism to maintain employment during the transition period before the production of a new vehicle begins,” the CEOE vice president also insisted.

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