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Coronavirus economic fallout: Nissan announces closure of Barcelona plant

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Job losses in Spain spark protests at Nissan's Bercelona plant
Job losses in Spain spark protests at Nissan's Bercelona plant   -   Copyright  Emilio Morenatti/AP Photos
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Angry workers protested and burned tyres after Nissan announced it would close its factory in Barcelona.

Spain's government urged the Japanese carmaker to reconsider, saying its decision would cost 3,000 jobs.

Workers' unions, meanwhile, have warned the move would cost 20,000 more jobs in Nissan's supply chain in Spain.

Nissan made the announcement — which also included moving manufacturing from Indonesia to Thailand — after posting a €5.6 billion loss for the financial year ending in March. It was the first loss for 11 years, which happened around the time of the global financial crisis.

The car giant made the move in response to plummeting global demand for its vehicles. It said its global vehicle production dropped 62% in April from a year earlier to 150,388 vehicles. Global vehicle sales slipped nearly 42% last month.

Emilio Morenatti/AP Photos
Nissan workers burn tires during a protest in front of the Nissan factory in Barcelona, SpainEmilio Morenatti/AP Photos

Protests against the move broke out on Thursday morning, with angry crowds gathering outside the factory gates in Barcelona.

One protester told AFP news agency the economic consequences for the region would be severe: "For Catalonia, the economic consequences are brutal. I think that the social responsibility of this company is nil and that the state and the government must, of course, penalise them as much as possible, obviously from an economic point of view."

Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Spain's foreign minister, said the government would "not throw in the towel" and they will "explore all solutions because our concern is to safeguard employment".

"We will close our Indonesia factory," said Makoto Uchida, Nissan's CEO. "Production for this region will be based in Thailand. As for West Europe, we will maintain the UK Sunderland factory which manufactures core models and improve production efficiency.

"As for the Barcelona factory, we have explored many different kinds of possibilities, but we have made the difficult decision of proceeding with talks and preparations for its closure.

"The novel coronavirus is extending damages to a variety of parts of the society including [the] medical society system, how markets and businesses operate, business models and social distancing. It is greatly changing how we think and it is also affecting the nature of the mobility industry."