Nissan offers Spanish workers temporary layoffs image

Japanese carmaker Nissan said it had agreed with unions to offer 200 workers in Spain temporary redundancies, marking the latest move by recession-hit firms to avoid high Spanish firing costs and save jobs.

The measures follow Nissan’s announcement last October it was cutting 1,680 workers at its Barcelona plant because of weak demand, particularly for vans and 4X4 models.

In a statement late on Friday, the Japanese firm said it would offer 200 workers temporary layoffs until April 2012, with redundancy pay equal to 20 days per year worked, and the right to return to jobs under the same terms.

The preliminary agreement, which also safeguards a further 100 jobs, follows early retirement and voluntary redundancy deals for 650 employees. It cuts the number of workers Nissan will have to fire to around 700. Union talks are ongoing.

Unemployment is rising faster in Spain than any other European Union country after the global crisis extinguished credit-driven housing and consumer spending booms.

Most layoffs have been among temporary workers with relatively low firing costs.

But as the crisis drags on, firms are having to cut long-term employees protected by some of the highest firing costs in the world, according to the OECD.

Spain’s second largest bank BBVA recently offered long-term staff prolonged paid leave in a move to rein in costs.