The Malaga base of a division of Japanese multinational Fujitsu said on Wednesday that it could be forced to lay off staff in March as a direct result of the effects of the coronavirus.
The Fujitsu Ten factory, on the Guadalhorce industrial estate, has 336 employees. Bosses believe that some of its production lines (the firm assembles electronic components) could grind to a halt in the next few days as parts are not arriving from China.
Plant director, Blanca Hermana, recognised on Wednesday that this was probably the first case in Spain of workers being temporarily laid off because of coronavirus.
The temporary stoppage notice, known by its initials as an ERTE, is valid from 2 to 17 March, although Hermana explained that she is working hard "to try to avoid applying it". If it is applied, she said, "it would be for the shortest time possible, affecting as few employees possible."
The move, which has been agreed with trade unions, specifies the maximum scope of any layoff. "As of [Wednesday] we calculate that the first shut down we will have to do is on 11 March," added Hermana.
She explained that the Malaga factory has found it hard to get parts and raw materials from China since the start of the year. "Chinese New Year has coincided with the coronavirus crisis and there are many supply problems," said the director.
A further risk is that the companies that Fujitsu Ten supplies its products to could also, independently, stop producing their end products, putting further at risk the amount of work available at the plant.
The company currently has 449 people working on the site, however the layoff can only affect 336, as the rest are on temporary contracts. These will be the first to stop work before permanent staff are affected.
"The problem is that nobody knows how long all this is going to last," said Hermana, who believes that, "when Chinese factories recover 100 per cent normality, sooner or later air and sea transport is going to be overloaded".