Pittsburgh aluminium pioneer Alcoa Corp said yesterday it has begun the process of laying off the workforce at its aluminium plant in San Ciprián, Spain.
According to the firm, it has been in talks with the labor force at the plant since late May. At issue is what Alcoa characterizes as “significant and unsustainable circumstances” at the plant. The firm did not offer any further specifics as to the issues in question.
Alcoa indicates it is planning on a restructuring of the plant that keeps part of the casthouse online. Though the move may jeopardize the jobs of over 500 workers at the plant, Alcoa promises to make no decisions on restructuring the plant until after the required consultations have concluded.
Alcoa notes that the aluminium portion of operations has posted substantial losses for quite some time, which it says is likely to continue into the future if no changes are made.
Speaking for the workforce at the plant was Jose Antonio Zan, who characterized Alcoa’s actions as “shameful,” noting the Spanish government’s failure to avert the current situation as well.
“We have been asking for a stable energy price for a long time, we have been saying that electro-intensive industries must be supported, as they are in the rest of Europe,” he lamented.
For its part, the regional government placed the blame on Spain’s national government for failing to work a deal on power with Alcoa.
“The decision made by Alcoa is a response to the lack of initiative and response from the government of Spain to establish a price of electricity that would be competitive enough to produce primary aluminum,” opined Galicia’s economy councilor Francisco Conde.
Both alumina refining and aluminium smelting operations are carried out at the San Ciprián site. Alcoa says the changes planned for the casthouse will have no effect upon operations at the alumina refinery.
The San Ciprián aluminium smelter produces ingots, billets, and sheets of primary aluminium.