Drop in production leads Autoeuropa to advance with redundancy plan

  • ECO News
  • 28 January 2022

In the redundancy plan, Autoeuropa is proposing compensation corresponding to 1.5 salaries for each year of work, but with a maximum ceiling of ten years. 70 people have already accepted.

Autoeuropa wants to reduce the number of employees in Palmela until 2023. The administration decided to move forward with a voluntary redundancy plan to cope with the drop in production expected for this year (53 thousand vehicles less compared to 2021), and that keeps the plant closed on weekends until March, compromising the existence of the fourth shift and the future of around 900 workers.

But the plan also aims to prevent overstaffing due to the end of production of the Sharan van, scheduled for this year, which is ensured by 300 workers. The inability to attract, for now, a new model to the assembly lines is an added pressure for the over five thousand workers of the company. ECO knows that there is no defined target for the moment, but at least 70 workers have already accepted to leave.

The workers are being offered two “contract termination programmes”, which have a time horizon of 2021-2023, and have already resulted in the departure of 70 employees since November last year, as far as ECO has learnt, when this plan was presented.

Currently, Autoeuropa only produces the T-Roc and the Sharan van, which should stop being produced in the middle of this year. It is in this context that this reduction is inserted: “The planned productivity actions and the end of the MPV [Multi-Purpose Vehicle] production imply the creation of actions to adjust the number of workers,” reads the document to which ECO had access. But it stresses the need for the measures/programmes created to be flexible to “allow for adaptation to changes in the production plan and other activities/actions related to insourcing or temporary projects”.

Autoeuropa’s management in the pre-employment agreement it signed in May with the Workers’ Commission (and which provides for wage increases of 1.7% in 2022) committed to creating conditions to ensure the allocation of a new product to the Palmela car plant, but so far this new model has not yet arrived. Therefore, the production lines are stopped on Saturdays and Sundays until March, a situation that if it continues could jeopardize the jobs of about 900 workers.

This downsizing plan is composed of two programmes. For example, workers with permanent contracts who show an interest in leaving the company can use the “New perspectives” programme. But to leave it is necessary that the company also agrees. If so, the worker is entitled to receive compensation corresponding to 1.5 salaries for each year of work, but with a maximum ceiling of ten years. In other words, the compensation may not consider the entire length of service of the worker. And in these calculations, the basic salary is considered plus the shift or exemption allowance.

The company, led by Thomas Gunther since last December, considers that this specific programme aims to create conditions for “younger and less senior workers who, for whatever personal and/or professional reason, may embrace a new professional challenge”.

For older workers, another programme was designed: “bridge to retirement”. Considering that the legal age for retirement this year is 66 years and seven months, the administration proposes that those who are 55 or older can ask for a reduction of the normal working period up to half of the time. For a maximum of three years, the worker can choose to have a reduction of 50% of the weekly work schedule or keep the two/three working days a week.