- 27 Nov 2006
Italy: New agreement for Fiat workers signals end of 10-year crisis
In June 2006, the Italian sectoral trade union organisation representing metalworkers and the Fiat car manufacturer renewed, after a gap of 10 years, a supplementary agreement covering more than 80,000 workers. A performance-related pay increase and greater job security for atypical employment relationships are among the key elements of the signed agreement.
- 27 Nov 2006
Germany: Union agrees to more working hours to safeguard jobs at Volkswagen
In September 2006, the bargaining parties at German car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) agreed on a package of measures aimed at helping the company to save costs and to safeguard employment. Central to the agreement is an extension of the current standard weekly working time of 28.8 hours in exchange for a company commitment to agreed production volumes at the six German sites of VW.
- 30 Oct 2006
Portugal: Conflict over terms of closure of Opel plant
In recent months, there has been widespread opposition to the decision of General Motors (GM) Europe to close its Opel Azambuja plant on the outskirts of Lisbon and to transfer production abroad. The closure, which is planned for December 2006, will directly affect some 1,200 workers. Negotiations following the announcement broke down between the European Employee Forum (EEF) and GM Europe, and Opel Azambuja workers responded by taking strike action. However, in September, the workers decided to end the strike on foot of a decision by EEF to permit the Opel Azambuja Workers’ Committee to negotiate directly with GM Europe.
- 19 Sep 2006
Hungary: Workers’ assembly at GM-Opel plant
Opel, the German based subsidiary of General Motors (GM), recently announced the closure of its Azambuja plant, north of Lisbon, Portugal. Worker representatives at the company fear that the plant closure is the first of a series of rationalisation measures aimed at cutting excess capacity and reorganising Opel’s manufacturing activities. Such measures could result in 30,000 job losses across Europe, primarily affecting production capacity in the former EU15 Member States. On 23 June 2006, a workers’ assembly was held at the Szentgotthárd plant, Hungary, serving both as a solidarity action and as an opportunity for acquiring information on the reorganisation of GM-Opel on a European scale.
- 04 Aug 2006
Spain: Volkswagen threatens to transfer production to Slovakia
The management of the Volkswagen plant in Pamplona is threatening to transfer production of the Polo model to its Bratislava plant, as happened previously with the SEAT Ibiza model. Currently, the collective agreement is at a standstill, with the company using the threat of relocation to weaken the position of the works council.
- 31 Jul 2006
United Kingdom: Vauxhall announces job losses at Ellesmere Port plant
In May 2006, Vauxhall Motors announced that approximately 900 jobs are to be cut at its Ellesmere Port plant in Merseyside, northwest England, with the removal of the third shift of production. Coming only a month after the announcement of the closure of Peugeot’s plant at Ryton near Coventry, the move has prompted further trade union criticism of the UK’s relaxed labour laws.
- 31 Jul 2006
Netherlands: Threatened job losses at NedCar automobile plant
Up to a third of jobs at the NedCar car manufacturing plant in Born, in the southeast of the Netherlands, may soon be cut. In April 2006, owners Mitsubishi and DaimlerCrysler announced their intention to reduce production output to 70,000 cars, threatening the jobs of at least 1,000 employees. The employees and trade unions are demanding that the company provides alternative employment by pursuing new models for manufacture, and are calling on the government to provide the company with financial support. However, the Dutch prime minister rejected this demand. Following strike action by employees, the Mitsubishi management has accepted the unions’ proposal to seek other production possibilities. In the coming four months, no dismissals will take place.
- 18 Jul 2006
Italy: Wages guarantee fund extended for Fiat workers
In April 2006, the Italian government approved a measure aimed at preventing over one thousand dismissals at Fiat Auto, the leading Italian motor manufacturing group. The measure provided for an extension of the wages guarantee fund, which will help safeguard the incomes of the workers affected.
- 18 Jul 2006
Belgium: Motor industry action plan yields positive results
The Belgian automobile industry is to invest €800 million in the sector during 2006 and 2007. These positive results have partly been achieved by the efforts of a tripartite task force, working since 2004 to optimise industrial policy in this economically important sector.
- 28 Jun 2006
EU Level: Global framework agreement signed at PSA Peugeot Citroën
In March 2006, the French-based car manufacturer, PSA Peugeot Citroën, along with the International Metalworkers’ Federation and the European Metalworkers’ Federation, concluded a global framework agreement. This agreement requires the company to adhere to various International Labour Organisation conventions and to develop its human resources.
- 22 May 2006
Spain: New measures to reduce temporary employment
As part of a new legislative proposal, the Spanish government, employer organisations and trade unions signed a preliminary agreement in April 2006. The proposed new legislation aims to curb the widespread use of temporary contracts in the Spanish labour market. It also contains provisions enabling entrepreneurs to reduce their direct taxes on labour and transform some temporary contracts into permanent ones.
- 22 May 2006
United Kingdom: Peugeot announces closure of Coventry plant
In April 2006, Peugeot announced the closure of its plant at Ryton, near Coventry in the UK, with the loss of 2,300 jobs. This was the third motor manufacturing closure in the region in the past three years. Trade unions particularly criticised the lack of consultation, while the government expressed disappointment at the news. Although the automotive industry remains strong in the UK overall, there are fears that more companies will relocate to lower-cost eastern European countries.
- 15 May 2006
Czech Republic: Hyundai plans major greenfield investment
Hyundai Motor Company goes ahead with a major greenfield investment in Nošovice in the Moravia-Silesia region of the Czech Republic. The company plans to open a new manufacturing plant, which should begin operations in October 2008 and employ 3,000 people. It is expected that a further 13,000 people will find work within the supply industry and in services. Both the Czech government and Hyundai will sign an agreement outlining the conditions of this investment.
- 10 May 2006
Czech Republic: Wage increase lowest in 13 years
The Czech Statistical Office has announced that the average monthly salary in 2005 increased by about 5.5% to approximately CZK 19,000 (€668). Taking inflation into account, the real increase in salaries amounted to 3.5%. This is the lowest annual wage increase since the separation of the former Czechoslovakia in 1992, and comes at a time of unprecedented economic growth.
- 21 Apr 2006
Hungary: Renewed tensions at Suzuki car assembly plant
In January 2006, the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (LIGA) established a union at the Suzuki plant, which protested against breaches in Labour Code working time regulations, and demanded higher wages and better working conditions. The company’s management refused to recognise the union and dismissed the union leader. In response, the Prime Minister refused to participate in the ceremony to launch the plant’s new car model, and called on the company to respect the right to freedom of association of employees.
- 21 Apr 2006
Poland: Union opposed to flexible working time at Fiat plant
In early February, the executive board of Fiat GM Powertrain announced that it wanted to introduce flexible working hours. Management argued that this would help boost production and meet new demand for the company’s products. Yet, the largest of the four trade unions active in the plant, NSZZ Solidarnosc, viewed the proposal unfavourably.
- 21 Apr 2006
Germany: Company-level alliance for jobs agreed at Ford
On 6 March 2006, a company-level alliance for jobs was agreed at Ford Germany between management and the works council. The deal will, in return for wage concessions, prevent dismissals at German sites until 2011. Both sides hailed the alliance as a success.
- 30 Jan 2006
Spain: Controversial workforce-reduction agreement signed at SEAT
Following lengthy negotiations and workforce mobilisations, in December 2005 Spain's SEAT motor company signed an agreement with the UGT and CC.OO trade unions that aims to tackle current problems at the firm though various measures, including the redundancy of 660 workers out of a workforce of some 13,000. The signatories see the deal as a comprise to avoid greater evils. However, the agreement has proved controversial.
- 11 Jan 2006
Spain: Workforce reduction plan agreed at Seat
In December 2005, the UGT and CC.OO trade unions reached a controversial agreement with the Seat car company on a workforce adjustment plan involving 660 redundancies in Spain, in the framework of a transnational reorganisation of the Volkswagen group.