Home > News > Others

Spanish trade unions withdraw strike at Alcoa’s San Ciprián Aluminium smelter

Monday, Feb 22, 2021

   The two largest and popular trade unions of Spain, the Podemos-affiliated Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and Socialist Party (PSOE)-affiliated General Union of Workers (UGT) have withdrawn the four-month strike at Alcoa’s San Cibrao aluminium plant in Spain’s North-eastern region of Galicia.

  Alcoa’s San Ciprián Aluminium smelter strike withdrawn
  The unions moved to call-off as it coincided with an international upsurge of struggles against wage cuts, job losses and the ruling class’ “herd immunity” policy.
  The unions called the strike as it opposed the decision of Alcoa, the world’s third-largest aluminium producer, headquartered in Pittsburgh, USA, to shut down it’s this smelting plant in Spain and lay-off all 530 workers, while another 1,500 indirect jobs were affected.
  Alcoa has pulled down or sold 18 aluminium factories worldwide since 2008, out of which four in recent months, including at A Coru?a and Avilés in Spain and Intalco in the United States.
  Globally, the industry is oppressed by oversupply, as Chinese demand has decelerated in recent years, and precisely now, with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  In 1990, when the industrial privatisation revolution occurred in Spain, Alcoa arrived there and acquired several plants owned by the Spanish Govt. at a minimal price, committing to inject €400 million. However, in reality, this never came to the picture, instead of over the last decades, it sold plants to invest finds and laid-off thousands of workers while squeezing out profits for over €1.5 billion.
  Alcoa managed to save around €1 billion in power bills, as Spanish electricity supply showered subsides on the high power consuming plant.  A risible situation emerged when Alcoa, a transnational company, paid an average of four euro-cents per kWh, while its workers paid 23 cents for the same electricity for their domestic purposes.
  Alcoa’s San Ciprián Aluminium smelter strike withdrawn
  Alcoa sold its two plants in Avilés and A Coru?a to Parter Capital Group, a Swiss hedge fund in 2019. The PSOE-Podemos government hyped this as the deal of the century. Industry Minister Reyes Maroto declared: “This is a day of hope. Spain needs industry, and we hope this announcement will serve not only to maintain jobs at the two plants but also to create new jobs.”
  Later on, in few months Parter Capital Group moved to sell it to Grupo Industrial Riesgo—but not before Alcoa paralysed the electrolytic cells, thus stopping the production of primary aluminium.
  In May, amid a nationwide lockdown and the number of deaths rising due to the pandemic in the spring of 2020, Alcoa declared the shutdown of its San Cibrao plant. The unions reacted with their well-rehearsed tactic of wearing down workers with isolated protests and strikes.
  The unions claimed that a “united front” of the regional and central governments, trade unions and workers would put “pressure” on Alcoa.
  At Alcoa’s San Cibrao plant, CCOO union leader José Antonio Zan called on the PSOE-Podemos government to “be brave” and “take over the plant.” Zan claimed the government could “intervene in the company and keep part of the shares.”
  The unions promoted talks between the regional and national PSOE-Podemos government to shower Alcoa with new subsidies. The CCOO and UGT, effectively working for management, even submitted a draft proposal on subsidies for Alcoa, giving it more tax cuts and exemptions.
  Report on Global Aluminium Industry Outlook 2021
  In October, Alcoa announced mass lay-off and amid mass anger, the unions called an indefinite strike and plant occupation, which was widely supported by the workforce. For four months, not only was production stopped—blocking over 50,000 metric tons of metal shipments—but workers prevented any attempt by Alcoa to remove machinery or other manufacturing equipment.
  The trade unions rapidly decided to withdraw the strike on 22nd January. The CCOO, the UGT and the Galician-nationalist trade union CIG (Confederación Intersindical Galega) reached a deal behind the workers’ backs with Alcoa, for the company to sell the plant to the Spanish government, which would then resell it to another private firm. Even this possibility, however, is remote. As the unions said, the key issue was maintaining “social peace.”
  CCOO delegate Zan declared that “the agreement to achieve the social peace demanded by the multinational has been signed, now everything is in the hands of Alcoa and the SEPI [Spanish Society of Industrial Participations, the agency that manages state-owned companies], who have to negotiate to come to a deal. How could it be otherwise?”
  Zan expected the plant to be sold to Liberty House, part of the British conglomerate GFG Alliance. However, he had to admit that he knows none of the details of “the operation,” although he claimed that “SEPI, Liberty or anyone who buys the company has to ensure the future through investments and modernise the factory.”

Recommended exhibitions

Notice of Postponement of ALUMINIUM CHINA & Lightweight Asia
Notice of Postponement of ALUMINIUM CHINA & Lightweight Asia 2020......
China Lightweight Vehicle Summit 2018
China’s automobile industry development has faced with enormous pressure on energy and environmental protection. In ord......
Aluminum company promises to hire 550 in heart of Appalachia
An aluminum company says it will build a $1.3 billion plant in the heart of Appalachia, promising to hire 550 people and......
Aluminium China 2017 to Drive Industry Transformation in Lig
This year’s Aluminium China in Shanghai from 19-21 July is set to mark a new period of growth in the aluminium industry......