On January 12, Danone management summoned its 157 workers at the Barets del Valles factory to inform them of its intention to close the factory. The spots of white paint decorating the facade of the headquarters, located in the Carrer de Buenos Aires area in Barcelona, tell the extent of the anger that arose among employees after the announcement. “They wouldn't let us or ask questions,” recalls Jaffe, a Barretts employee.
The astonishment among the workers was complete, as management's comments up to that point had been one of pride in the work accomplished and the results obtained. “We thought the meeting was to announce our investment plans,” recalls Veronica, who has been working on Barettes production lines for 17 years.
“Industrial rationalization” was the qualification used by the administration to announce the closure. The Oikos, Alpro and Vitalinea products, which have so far been manufactured in Barets, want to be transferred to the plant in Aldaia (Valencia).
This announcement surprised more than one person, because last year Danone completed a €22.7 million investment to transform its Catalan factory into the only hybrid factory in the group. Two years ago, it invested 6.7 million euros to digitize the plant's operating systems.
The company has offered workers compensation of 30 days a year, with a maximum of 18 monthly payments, and early retirement from age 58, amounts the workforce describes as exorbitant. The company plans to close the operation before 2025.
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