(Adds background, reaction from local authorities, union rep)
MADRID, May 28 (Reuters) - Alcoa said on Thursday it is considering laying off up to 534 workers from its San Ciprian aluminum plant in the Spanish region of Galicia, though a final decision has not yet been made.
High energy costs and low aluminum prices led to persistent losses and left the plant unable to compete internationally, the company said in an emailed statement.
Alcoa’s announcement comes shortly after Japanese auto giant Nissan Motor Co said it would shut its Barcelona plant from December, putting thousands of jobs in jeopardy.
Together, they are a major blow to the country’s morale as unemployment skyrockets and a steep recession looms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers representatives will meet with Alcoa’s management for three weeks of talks to discuss what challenges the plant faces and the options available.
“No decision will be taken until this consultation period has finished,” Alcoa said.
Union representative Jose Antonio Zan blasted the company’s actions as “shameful” in an interview on state broadcaster TVE, and attacked the government for failing to support the highly energy-intensive industry.
“We have been asking for a stable energy price for a long time, we have been saying that electro-intensive industries must be supported, as they are in the rest of Europe,” he said.
Including contractors and employees, San Ciprian’s workforce numbers around 2,000 people, he added.
Francisco Conde, the Galicia region’s economy councilor, echoed his criticism of the government’s inaction.
“The decision made by Alcoa is a response to the lack of initiative and response from the government of Spain to establish a price of electricity that would be competitive enough to produce primary aluminum,” he said in an audio statement. (Reporting by Nathan Allen, Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip)