Renault Industrial Vehicles plant to close

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It was announced in March 2004 that the Volvo-owned Renault Industrial Vehicles plant in Villaverde (Spain) is to close, with the loss of 443 jobs, and its lorry production is to be moved to a French plant. The UGT trade union has criticised the fact that the company wants to sell the Villaverde site for non-industrial use

In March 2004, Renault Industrial Vehicles- part of the Swedish-based motor manufacturing group Volvo- announced that it was to close its plant in Villaverde (Madrid) and transfer production to Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon in France. This closure came a something of a surprise because the factory went through a process of major restructuring 10 years previously and productivity has been increasing recently. For example, in 2002 the factory produced a record 7,495 units. However, the productivity of the French factory is reportedly greater than that of the Spanish factory. Villaverde produces 27 Kerax model lorries per day, while Bourg-en-Bresse produces 110 of the Premium and Magnum models per day. Furthermore, the life-cycle of the Kerax will end in 2006 and it will be replaced by another model.

Volvo has experienced financial losses in the last three years. Therefore, its Renault Industrial Vehicles subsidiary has announced a three-year industrial plan involving the elimination of 443 jobs at the Villaverde plant and the transfer of the remaining 150 jobs to a new factory that will produce crankshafts. The restructuring of the Volvo group has been under consideration for some years due to falling demand. The management therefore states that the latest moves have nothing to do with recent political changes in Spain (ie the election of a new Socialist government in March).

The new crankshaft factory will involve an investment of EUR 35 million, plus EUR 6 million in the value of the tools and equipment at the current factory in Villaverde. Company representatives expect to open discussions with Madrid city council and with the regional government to obtain subsidies and decide on the future location of the factory.

The General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) opposes the plans presented by Renault Industrial Vehicles. According to the trade union, the firm's restructuring plan conceals a major urban development operation - ie the sale of the enormous site (144,000 square metres) on which the current factory at Villaverde is located would yield great profits for the firm. Therefore, the union is demanding that the company make industrial commitments that prevent the relocation, which is the latest in wave to hit Spain recently (ES0402205F). UGT also plans to open discussions with the Madrid regional government, aimed at avoiding the rezoning of the Villaverde industrial area and obtaining commitments on investment and future plans.

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