Workers of US-based aluminium giant Alcoa’s smelter in San Cipria, Spain, have intensified their protest against the closure of the plant. On October 4, Sunday, hundreds of workers at the plant and auxiliaries related to the plant, started an indefinite strike demanding job protection and government intervention to continue production. The jobs of more than 500 workers are at stake after Alcoa decided to close its smelter at San Cipria citing huge losses. The crisis faced by the workers intensified on September 27, when the negotiations between Alcoa and UK-based Liberty House for the sale of the plant failed.
Alcoa’s San Cipria factory employs about 1,100 workers, 500 of whom are involved in the production of alumina and over 600 in the production of primary aluminium. The company has decided to lay off 534 workers at the primary aluminium plant, which is likely to affect many hundreds of secondary jobs as well.
As per Alberto Villalta, head of the steel and basic metals sector of the Federation of Industry of the General Union of Workers (UGT), “closures and relocations are a consequence of globalization, multinationals are looking for cheaper places to produce, but also for the lack of industrial policies, the absence of measures, or a strategy to retain multinationals and strengthen industrial zones.”
“The problem of aluminium is different, it is a strategic product, a vital element for the future and Spain cannot afford the luxury of not having aluminium production. Alcoa already closed last year two plants in Áviles and Coruña, and this would be the last plant that we have in our country for the production of primary aluminium, basic for different sectors such as the automotive, the aeronautical sector, etc.,” he added.
Nestor Rego from the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) has demanded a decision from the Spanish government to start public intervention for the nationalization of the plant. “The interests of a multinational such as Alcoa cannot be above the interests of the Galician people and the maintenance of economic activity and jobs,” he stressed.
Alcoa’s decision to close its smelters in Áviles and La Coruna were also met with large protests by the workers of both the plants.