The effects of the conflict in the Red Sea have begun to be felt in Spanish industries. The French company Michelin has announced production stoppages in Valladolid and Aranda de Duero (Burgos) for January 20 and 21 due to the lack of rubber to make its products. The interruption, given the volume of work, will be almost complete at the Burgos factory. The management of the Vitoria plant has summoned the unions this afternoon to evaluate how to react to this lack of supplies derived from the effects of the Houthi attacks on maritime transport, which affect the international trade flow with Asian suppliers.
Michelin had announced in recent weeks that the lack of rubber, essential for manufacturing its tires, was compromising the regular production rate. The company, as the amounts received from the diversion of naval traffic along longer routes are reduced, cannot maintain its normal operations. The conflicts in the Red Sea, which do not allow ships from Asia to reach Europe through the Mediterranean, force ships to go around Africa and thus increase both the arrival times of materials and their cost. The Valladolid plant, as announced by the company, will proceed to deactivate the workshops to produce rubber mixtures, conventional passenger tires and tires from retreaded workshops, as reported by the Europa Press agency citing sources from the UGT union.
The geopolitical crisis implies the absence of almost 20,000 covers of different types, hence some stoppages that will affect about 400 employees, 25% of the total workforce in Valladolid. “Therefore, we cannot manufacture the rubber and we must also stop the finished product activities,” say Michelin Valladolid sources. The lack of raw materials also means that in the Aranda de Duero factory (Burgos), smaller than the previous one, work activity will be practically suppressed for the aforementioned January 20 and 21.
This measure assumed for these two facilities in Castilla y León is being considered for the one from Vitoria, also a victim of the lack of materials to make tires for sale to the public. The company’s first intention, as it informed its employees in Vitoria, was to paralyze these works on January 13 and 14, which would affect the 920 people employed in the manufacture of covers for the passenger cars, as well as for those in charge of mixing rubber and manufacturing Civil Engineering tires. The stoppage would also mean stopping the production of some 40,000 passenger wheels, 280 tons of Civil Engineering tires and 1,000 tons of different rubber mixtures. The Lasarte factory (Álava), somewhat less affected by the high price of rubber, planned to interrupt two shifts in a workshop this Friday, which involved 45 of the 500 workers.
The conflict in the Red Sea, causing these difficulties in obtaining supplies in European factories, comes from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels against ships that ply these waters. According to these Muslim militias, supported by Iran, the campaign responds to revenge against Israel and its Western allies for their military actions against Gaza, which have caused more than 20,000 deaths in the Strip. In this way, shipping companies have had to look for much longer and more expensive alternatives in order to ensure their shipments, even if they entail higher prices, thus avoiding this step of high commercial importance.
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