The effects of coronavirus begin to take their first “victims” among companies, so some have already begun to activate prevention protocols to their staff, after confirming several positive cases in Spain. These protocols can range from the suspension of work trips outside Spain to generalized medical check-ups and temporary workforce adjustments. The latter is what has happened in the plant that the Japanese multinational Fujitsu has in Malaga. Its managers have confirmed that its workforce will suffer a Temporary Regulation File (ERTE) that will affect a maximum of 336 of its workers -of the 449 that make up the total-, since several of its production lines will be paralyzed because of the shortage of components that has caused the industrial break in China. This can be considered the first direct “victim” caused by the coronavirus health crisis on the economy and employment in Spain. The ERTE will enter into force next Monday and will run until May 17, although the company’s management will wait “until the last moment” to apply it and to decide the final number of employees that will be affected. “This is an extraordinary measure with the attempt to minimize the negative impact of the lack of components and raw materials.”
The auxiliary industry sector – especially automotive – has been one of the hardest hit by the stoppage of production from China. They fear that there will be a cascading effect that will drag many of them to the closure, since they are strongly interconnected and are very dependent on each other. If an important production plant closes due to lack of material, it can inevitably drag all those who depend on it. But, to this day, large companies have not officially quantified what this crisis may affect their balance sheets and their production, although they have begun to activate contingency plans to deal with possible medium-term effects with guarantees, especially if the situation enters an expansive phase and lengthens over time.
Car manufacturers with production plants in Spain – such as PSA, Ford, Opel or Volkswagen – do not rule out activating new protocols that react immediately if the shortage begins. But, for the moment, they are calm because “the companies in the sector have long-term supplies, with enough stock to endure,” they explain from the Anfac management.
Large technology companies, major financial institutions and energy companies have announced that they are already taking concrete measures to protect their staff. Telefónica, Indra or Cellnex have created monitoring committees, which have informed their workers via emails of the precautionary measures they must follow to avoid contagion.
Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy have also initiated action formulas. The management of the gas company has decided to temporarily suspend all international trips of its workforce to prevent the expansion of the coronavirus from affecting its workers. For its part, Ericsson has taken another path and has decided to suspend the activity of 200 of them. The positive for coronavirus of a manager of the company, coming from Croatia has caused the paralysis of all business activity.
In the financial sector, Santander, BBVA, Bankia, Sabadell, Bankinter and Caixabank have not seen their activity altered even though their staff has been alerted to the situation. However, entities with branches in China or Italy, the main sources of contagion, have ordered their employees to do teleworking.
For its part, Brussels already assumes the negative economic impact of the coronavirus, although it is not yet able to quantify it on a global scale. “We will have a sure impact, given that China represents 18% of global GDP, but a serious analysis and forecast is not yet possible. This is a situation that evolves rapidly and that we will continue to monitor very closely, ”they said from the Commission. Some of the big European companies, like Lufthansa, have offered their employees unpaid leave to counter the blow of the coronavirus on their accounts and announced that they will not hire more staff. The German airline points out that “it is not yet possible” to estimate the impact of the events on the benefits, although it will provide its forecasts on March 19 together with the results of 2019. The Air France-KLM group encrypted the impact of the coronavirus on its operating profit between 150 and 200 million euros and have announced that they will freeze some of their projects, which will directly affect employment.
On the other hand, after four consecutive days of falls due to the “contagion effect”, the Spanish Stock Exchange rose 0.71% and recovered the level of 9,300 points encouraged by the rebound in Wall Street. In Europe, only Frankfurt fell 0.12%, while Milan rose 1.44%; London 0.3% and Paris 0.09%.