380 jobs in question at Isofotón; suppliers step up the pressure

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A spokesperson for the Spanish photovoltaic company told pv magazine that it is currently drawing up a restructuring plan for its Malaga manufacturing facility, which will affect 380 of its 700 strong workforce.

They explained that the lawyers are considering different options, including salary cuts, reduced working hours and layoffs. A decision is expected in around 10 days. Isofotón will then have 30 days to negotiate with the workers’ unions.

The decision has been taken, the spokesperson explained, in light of overstaffing and to ensure the future of the global company. While the factory has a nameplate manufacturing capacity of 230 MW, and was staffed to reflect this, it never reached full throttle. They could not say what capacity the factory was running at in 2012.

They did say that from 2010 to 2011, photovoltaic shipments to Spain fell from 16 to 12% and to Europe from 81 to 68%, while shipments to the rest of the world significantly grew from 3 to 20%. Final figures are not yet available for 2012, however they are expected to be along the same trajectory.

Last Friday, 48% of Isofotón’s Malaga workforce were on strike over delayed salary payments. The spokesperson said that these issues have now been resolved. They added that it is business as usual for the rest of Isofotón’s business operations.

Debt negotiations

Isofotón is also currently in negotiations with some of its suppliers regarding debt refinancing. The spokesperson told pv magazine on February 5 that some adjustments had been made with some of its suppliers, and that it was currently negotiating with them. They added that insolvency was not an option and that the company is both financially "viable" and "solid".

However, speaking to pv magazine, CEO of supplier Lamaignere, Francisco Herrero Maldonado, said that Isofotón has failed to make necessary payments for contracted services. "Lamaignere started to work for Isofoton in 2010 as logistics provider to import his components from Asia. And in November 2011 we stopped due that they didn’t pay us," he said.

Maldonado added that following failed attempts to resolve the situation with Isofotón’s president Angel Serrano and its finance department, Lamaignere went to a Spanish court in July to request that insolvency proceedings be opened for Isofotón. The court has not yet notified Isofotón, however, he said.

Once Lamaignere’s situation was reported in the Spanish media, Maldonado continued, over six other suppliers to Isofotón reportedly contacted him to report similar issues. Overall, Isofotón is said to owe these suppliers over €3 million.

"In two week our lawyers will take a final decision," said Maldonado. He added that while no details can be disclosed, the complainants include a logistic multinational company and a Spanish supplier.

Responding to the latest information, the Isofotón spokesperson repeated that it had not been informed of any action taken against it, and that it was negotiating with its suppliers.