PROTESTS have been triggered in Barcelona after car giant Nissan announced it is to close its plants in Catalonia after 40 years with the loss of more than 3000 jobs.

Company CEO, Makoto Uchida, announced the closure yesterday at a news conference in Japan, saying the company had considered “several measures” to avoid the factories’ shutdown.

He said the closure was a difficult decision which had been forced by the need to rationalise the business. Gianluca de Ficchy,

who heads Nissan in Europe, said the Catalan plants were not sufficiently competitive and that production in Barcelona was running at just 20% of capacity. It is expected to drop further. He said the plant needed “big investments” to modernise it and make it competitive.

Although more than 3000 work in Nissan’s five Catalan plants, unions said they also indirectly support more than a further 20,000 jobs.

Shortly after Uchida broke the bad news, workers began a protest outside Nissan’s Barcelona and Montcada i Reixac plants, before moving towards the city centre.

Catalan President Quim Torra said his government would do all it could to halt the closure. He said: “The Catalan government has been working hard to prevent today’s announcement from happening. As a result, we’ve been able to implement a work plan immediately. I spoke with [Spain’s] Prime Minister Sanchez this morning. We’ve made a commitment to activate all possible mechanisms and initiatives to solve this serious problem.”