Altadis, a French-Spanish offshoot of Britain-based Imperial Tobacco have just announced a restructuring plan which includes the closure of the cigarette factory of Agoncillo, in the Spanish region of Rioja. The closure is expected to take place on 30 June 2016 and will result in the loss of 471 jobs. Over the last 17 years Altadis has laid off around 6,000 workers and closed 12 of its factories throughout the country. Increased smuggling and tougher anti-smoking legislation are behind the company’s alleged reasons for the closure.
Just a few years after the announcement that plants in Nantes, France, and Nottingham, UK, are scheduled for closure in 2016, Imperial Tobacco have now declared they will be downsizing their operations in the Iberian peninsula, in line with their disinvesting and cost-reduction policy in western Europe. The closure of the Agoncillo plant will likely have drastic consequences not only on the Altadis employees and their families, but may also have a major impact on 10,000 tobacco farmers and on the economic situation of the entire Rioja region.
In a standoff with the Altadis directors last Tuesday, the Rioja government have denounced an “unjustified and unfair corporate decision” as well as a lack of transparency, and have demanded that the Central Management at Imperial Tobacco “provide full and detailed information justifying the suspension of activity" and that they reconsider the closure of the factory scheduled for 30 June.
EFFAT Member Organisations FEAGRA-CCOO and FITAG-UGT claim the announcement of the closure came as unexpected and that the news was made public without any prior and proper involvement of the workers representative structures at a national level. EFFAT strongly support their affiliates and regret that the European Works Council was not duly informed nor consulted about the closure when they met last December.
EFFAT Company Policy Officer Enrico Somaglia commented on the news of the announced closure saying that “We cannot accept Imperial Tobacco’s attitude, which we consider against the basic principles of social dialogue and national and European legislations. Corporate decisions with such a drastic impact on workers, their families and the entire communities where these factories operate, shouldn’t be made public without the fair and proper involvement of trade unions and national and European works councils”.
In view of the EWC Steering Committee meeting this week, EFFAT have sent a letter to the Imperial Tobacco senior management demanding they respect information and consultation rights and asking for a strong engagement of national and European workers representative structures.
EFFAT express deep solidarity and support to their Spanish member organizations and the workers of the Agoncillo plant.