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Press Release
Social Troika debates the anticipation of and support for restructurings

Date of release : 07-04-2005

Policy area : Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

Event : Informal Meeting of Ministers for Labour and Employment

On the eve of the informal meeting of the EU’s Ministers for Labour and Employment, the Social Troika met on 7 April in Luxembourg, under the chairmanship of François Biltgen, Minister for Labour and Employment, in the presence of the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity, Vladimir Špidla, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labour of the Republic of Austria, Martin Bartenstein, and the Secretary of State for Labour Relations, Competitiveness and Consumers of the United Kingdom, Gerry Sutcliffe. Mars Di Bartolomeo, Luxembourg’s Minister for Health and Social Security, was also present.

The chairpersons of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and the Employment Committee also attended this meeting, which was the opportunity to consult with the representatives of the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) on the matter of restructurings from the viewpoint of the social partners. The social partners from Luxembourg were represented by Jean-Claude Reding (OGB-L), Robert Weber (LCGB), Charles Krombach (President of FEDIL), and Paul Reckinger (President of the Chamber of Skilled Crafts).

At the end of the sessions, François Biltgen stated that the restructuring issue was of special interest to the citizens of Europe at a time when the matter of social Europe is often raised. "But we talk mainly about negative restructurings," added François Biltgen, who mentioned many examples through the European Union. "According to the European Restructuring Monitor of the Dublin Foundation, in March there were 90 cases of large restructurings that caused the loss of 30,000 jobs. But, on the other hand, in the same month, 22,000 jobs were created. This example shows the interest of the subject."

François Biltgen situated the discussion on restructurings within the context of the review of the Lisbon Process, and on that subject he made special mention of point 33 of the conclusions of the European Council of 22 and 23 March 2005 that state: "For the workers and enterprises, new types of labour organisation and greater diversity of contractual procedures combining flexibility and security in a better way, and they will contribute to adaptability. Emphasis must also be placed on better anticipation and management of economic changes." In this context, he expressed satisfaction that the European Commission had already produced a communication on 31 March on the anticipation of and support for restructurings in the European Union.

François Biltgen drew the following conclusions from the debate: "We must realise that restructurings are a normal event in the globalised world in which we live, with job losses on the one hand and opportunities and new jobs on the other. We observed during the debate that everyone has his own experiences with restructurings, and that some are negative while others are positive, both for the enterprises and the workers. The common messages that I wanted to come out of this meeting are:

  • The best management is at local or even regional level;
  • Restructurings do not just affect industry, but they also impact every sector and subcontractors as well through repercussions;
  • Preventing or artificially delaying a restructuring is not a solution. The only valid solution is anticipating the restructuring;
  • Success is possible if a few conditions are met: Create a climate of trust; an honest commitment from employers and employees to anticipate and manage the change; seek every alternative to lay-offs and unemployment: training, out-placement, creation of new activities; and social responsibilities of both parties.

Workers must understand that we have to move from job security to employment security. This is the response to the changes being made. Abandoning employment security must not be replaced by insecurity. It must be replaced by another form of security. This requires the social partners to work together to strike a balance between employee protection on the one hand and economic growth and job growth on the other, as these drive our prosperity and the renewed Lisbon Strategy."

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This page was last modified on : 08-04-2005

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