The historic Gallina Blanca factory in Sant Joan Despí (Barcelona) closed its doors last March so that its land is occupied by Agroalimen, the multinational holding company that moves its headquarters and that of its subsidiaries GBFoods and Affinity Petcare to the municipality. The City Council ensures that the urban reform, endorsed yesterday mostly by the municipal plenary, will involve the creation of a thousand jobs and the construction of flats, offices and a hotel. Requalification, however, is rejected by trade unions who argue that it involves the loss of industrial land.
From CCOO, they criticize the requalification of the urban plot of land occupied by Gallina Blanca in the town of Baix Llobregat. “It is the shooting of departure to an operation that deepens a widespread policy in this city, in this region and in the metropolitan area of Barcelona”, they express from the union, which regrets the “constant” loss of industrial land and the “lack of incentives and public resources” to order, modernize, bring new productive fabric and promote a participatory governance of the current polygons of economic activity.
CCOO sources recall that, in the context of the labour dispute involved the closure of the factory and the consequent loss of jobs, the linkage of the productive closure of a “viable” company to a future urban requalification project “was a serious, unre transparent strategic error”. ‘All this confirms that the subsequent development of the operation was flawed’,adding, with the conviction that it is necessary that the industrial problem ‘must be part of a negotiating table’ of a local, regional or metropolitan nature involving administrations and social and economic actors.
Although CCOO states that the change of uses approved by the City Council of Sant Joan Despí will bring economic benefits and significant capital gains for Agroalimen, it requires a control of the operation because it maintains that it “does not contemplate a real commitment to the development of the municipality or the region”.
The general interest of Sant Joan Despí “must be at the centre, with a participatory social debate about what model of city we want for the future”, they claim from the union, which also requires the City Council to develop the policies agreed in the pacts and social agreements to protect urban land and energize sound industrial policies. CCOO also calls on the Generalitat to develop both the National Compact for Industry and the economic and social reconstruction agreements “with resources”.
The City Council of Sant Joan Despí, led by the PSC,has rushed to publicize the new urban plan with two virtual images of the future sector that will host Agroalimen’s activity. According to municipal sources, 413 new homes -184 of them, social – and 45,000 square meters of roof will be built for shops, offices and a hotel on the old grounds of the mythical Gallina Blanca factory. So far, there is no planned date for the start of the urban intervention. Let alone for completion.
In the absence of the project gaining the green light from the Generalitat Urban Planning Commission, the agreement between the City Council and Agroalimen provides that the group’s headquarters and those of its divisions GBFoods – head of the company Gallina Blanca – and Affinity Petcare will be installed in this tertiary use space in about five years from the final approval of the modification of the plan.
“This would mean that around 500 employees of the group would return to the area where Gallina Blanca originally settled in 1954,” they stressed from the Consistory, which hopes that the installation of Agrolimen’s headquarters can translate into a new engine in the process of transforming the Fontsanta business estate into “new activities linked to knowledge and the technological industry”.