SPANISH car company Seat has halted car production at its factory in Catalonia because of ongoing strikes in the region.
Production at the factory in Martorell, just outside of Barcelona, stopped on Thursday at noon and will remain at a standstill during the Catalan general strike today.
Workers at the factory, that employs 15,000 people, are not taking part in the general strike called for Friday, but Seat decided to close the plant because they fear the strikes will cause employees to encounter difficulties when arriving and leaving work.
The company also expects delays in the deliveries of essential car parts because of the impact of strikes and road blockades in the region.
Around 25,000 students and pro-independence supporters gathered outside Barcelona city hall on Thursday to protest the jailing of nine Catalan separatist politicians.
Almost half of the workers at the factory (7000) have been told to stay at home, after Seat cancelled five shifts.
The closure means that some 3,500 cars will not be manufactured during the strikes. 2,100 cars are made at the factory daily.
Seat has been affected by previous strikes by separatists in the region, but it is the first time production has ground to a halt because of them.
“The plant is closed for the safety of workers, so they don’t encounter problems arriving or leaving,” said Matías Carnero, chairman of the UGT union in Catalonia.
The closure only affects the production side of the Seat factory in Martorell. The company has encouraged office-based employees to work from home.