More investment with less staff. The court that handles the bankruptcy of the private shipyard from Vigo, Hijos de J. Barreras, which for many years was the largest in Spain, announced this Tuesday that it will sell the production unit to Astilleros Armón for 14.7 million euros. Of that price, 14.2 million correspond to the goods and rights acquired by the company, while the rest will be paid for the scrap of the hulls. Astilleros Armón, as stated in the car, will substitute twenty workers of the 123 that the staff had. With the operation, a giant shipbuilding company was born in Spain: based in Navia (Asturias), Armón has five centers between Asturias and Galicia in the towns of Navia, Vigo, Gijon, Burela, Puerto de Vega and a steel forming and cutting workshop in Coaña.
It is, at the same time, a jug of cold water for the staff. The works council was betting on the award to the second of the three buyers in the bid, Gondán, who offered greater employment guarantees but a lower investment. Finally, Judge Amelia Pérez has agreed with the criteria of the bankruptcy administration. The president of the works council, Sergio Gálvez, lamented that a hundred people are going to the streets. “Job loss is the most humiliating thing of all. Many of the workers have more than 20 years, they have a deep knowledge of the sector. The bankruptcy report is full of questions that are not true, it is unfortunate. She also criticized the Xunta’s role in the crisis. “It is unfortunate that the Galician administration is put in profile.”
The sale, against which there is no recourse, must be done within a month. It has not been easy: the magistrate handling the case explains in the order that she has taken into account that “the benefit of some interested parties is to the detriment of others.” Thus, she warns that, “if the existing business structure is maintained to avoid job losses, the workers of the bankrupt company are being favored, but at the expense of the creditors and the workers of these creditors, who are also affected”. In the end, she said she would choose to put “the interest of the contest” before it, and with it the interest of the creditors, since the winning offer was 45% higher than the second in what it offered to them. The third offer, from Marina Meridional, was rejected as it did not meet “any of the budgets necessary to award it the production unit.”
In a long-motivated exposition due to the sensitivity that exists in the Galician industry with this matter, the magistrate underlines that “the sustainability of the business and industrial fabric of the auxiliary and complementary sector of the activity of Hijos de J. Barreras, linked to the naval sector , determines that it is necessary to ensure the satisfaction of the credits of those who, as creditors, attend the process”. In the order it also indicates that the offer from Gondan did not provide guarantees for the future of the workforce: “It does not allow practically all of the creditors’ credits to be satisfied and raises doubts regarding the continuity of all the employees of the workforce outside of this process, once the production unit has been transferred.
Armón is committed to reactivating the empty facilities on Beiramar avenue of the Vigo shipyard, which should return to work in less than six months with the construction of an oceanographic for Iceland and a freezer trawler for an Argentine shipowner. That, in turn, will be a source of oxygen for the auxiliary industry, on which some 6,500 jobs depend in the Vigo estuary.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.