MADRID – Ford Motor Co. is the latest to slash production in Spain as a result of flagging sales, pushing to 20,000 the number of workers here that will be affected by industry-wide cutbacks during December and January.

Ford says it will idle its Valencia plant for a total of 21 days in early 2009, affecting 5,177 workers and cutting production by 30,000 cars. The plant will close for nine days in January and then suspend operations one day per week every other week for a total of 12 days.

Ford also has notified 900 Valencia workers they will be idled in December, as Focus production is reduced by 9,000 units.

By temporarily shutting down the Valencia plant, Ford is going to delay the launch of the new Fiesta, which was scheduled to begin production at the plant Jan. 20.

Ford’s cuts, in turn, will affect production at some 40 suppliers located close to the Valencia plant that employ roughly 4,000 workers.

Other local auto makers have announced temporary shutdowns at Spanish plants to control inventories in December, including Adam Opel GmbH (15 days of downtime including holidays and Sundays), Iveco SpA (12), Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz (19), Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (19), PSA Peugeot Citroen (26), Renault SA (26), SEAT SA (26) and Volkswagen AG (22).

The Spanish car plants directly employ more than 70,000 workers.

In October, local car production fell 25.9% vs. year-ago, according to the Spanish association of auto makers. To date, 2008 output trails like-2007 by 7.1%.