Closure of plants in the Netherlands: job losses on the horizon

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In November 1997, within two weeks of one another, two companies in the Netherlands have announced that they intend to move part of their production abroad. A third company wants to close down completely.

Within a period of less than two weeks, three companies have announced that they will be closing down part of their Dutch plants. Two of them will move their production facilities to other countries.

On 6 November 1997, Lucent Nederland, until recently part of AT&T, announced that it will close down its telecommunications equipment plant in Huizen. More than 700 employees will lose their jobs. Only a year earlier, the company had moved its switching-gear production to Spain. Trade union officials have drawn attention to the fact that the plant in Huizen is profitable, and that employees there are more productive than Lucent employees in Spain and the United States. However, the management of the plant contends that production is too limited to be profitable. Negotiations between Lucent and the unions continue.

Two days later, the US-owned AlliedSignal Carpet Fibers in Emmen announced that it will be closing down in six months' time. As a result, 310 employees will join the ranks of the jobless. The works council is arguing to keep the profitable departments of the plant open. According to an official of Industriebond FNV, the industrial workers' union affiliated to the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), this would result in saving 150 jobs. Closing the plant will also have adverse consequences for 55 employees at the Akzo Nobel plant in Emmen, which supplies semi-manufactured goods to AlliedSignal Carpet Fibers.

Finally, on 18 November, Vredestein, a producer of rubber products, announced it will reduce the production of bicycle tyres in Doetinchem by 40%. This will result in the loss of 74 of the 246 jobs in this division. Production facilities will be moved to the Ralphson company in India. Employees over 57½ years old will be covered by the current redundancy scheme, and management does not expect that these employees will be able to find work within Vredestein. Two employees of Vredestein have assisted in raising the technology level of Ralphson over the past few months, subsidised by the Ministry for Overseas Development. The Ministry is now reconsidering its subsidy.

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