Industrial relations

Luxembourg: Latest developments in working life Q3 2019

Ongoing discussions in the steel sector about ArcelorMittal’s ‘Score’ project, the approval of a new law on inclusive employment assistance for employees with disabilities, and a new collective labour market agreement in the private security sector are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Luxembourg in the third quarter of 2019.

Trade unions voice concerns about steel company’s plan

The ‘Score’ plan launched by Arcelor-Mittal in February 2019 aiming to reduce the company’s employees by 260 wage earners, continues to create heated debate. Initial discussions during winter 2018 and spring 2019 took place with the social partners on whether the plan should be defined as a ‘crisis’ plan, which would trigger a new steel tripartite meeting as stipulated by law. [1]

In a parliamentary question in July 2019, the opposition party Crëschtlech-Sozial Vollëkspartei (CSV) asked both the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Economy for an assessment of the Score plan. Both ministers responded that the plan could not be defined as a crisis plan because there are no planned layoffs and no plant closures, as Arcelor-Mittal emphasises that the plan is based on natural attrition. [2]

Arcelor-Mittal presented the details of the Score plan to the two representative trade unions Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg (OGBL) and Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschaftsbond (LCGB) on 28 August and 12 September. The trade unions voiced their dissatisfaction with the displayed information. The OGBL has stressed that the Score plan will impact many more jobs and training needs and has asked for additional details on the company’s investments, as well as for the legislation on crisis management to be fully applied. The LCGB says that the law-based tripartite process is required, as the Score plan would represent a restructuring plan with repercussions on the workforce. Both trade unions have stated that the project remains vague.

Regarding investments, Arcelor-Mittal highlighted its investments of already 5.5 million EUR in 2017/2018 while an additional investment of 10 million EUR is scheduled for 2020.

New law on inclusive employment assistance

On 10 July, parliament passed a bill to strengthen inclusion in employment for employees with disabilities. The bill creates a new role – employment inclusion assistants – to improve the labour market for employees with disabilities and employees faced with external redeployment procedures in the private sector. [3]

The legislation is part of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by Luxembourg in 2011. Employment inclusion assistants provide support to create an adapted professional environment for employees and the hours of assistance that assistants can offer is dependent on their personal situation. The adapted professional environment includes an employment inclusion plan that is developed together with the employer and approved by the public employment service. The government’s Employment Fund provides the funding for this new role.

The Chamber of Employees (CSL) welcomed the new legislation, but emphasised that the government would not provide information about the efficiency of existing measures: the legal framework is therefore complementary to orientation, training, re-education, integration and reintegration measures.

The Chamber of Commerce also referred to the existing law on external redeployment. The Higher Council for Disabled Persons highlighted that the government should evaluate existing measures before creating a new policy initiative and then extend the law to the public sector.

New collective agreement in private security sector

In August 2019, social partners in the national private security sector signed a three-year collective labour market agreement (2019–2022). [4] The agreement followed a year of intense negotiations between the OGBL, the LCGB and Business Federation Luxembourg (FEDIL).

The agreement contains:

  • a wage increase of 1.5% from 1 October 2019 and a further increase of 1% in January 2021
  • a reduction to the existing framework of working time (reference period of 12 months)
  • the establishment of a training fund with an employer contribution of 1% of the annual payroll of employees falling under the scope of the agreement

The next negotiations are due to take place in 2021.

Commentary

Over the last two years, most economic sectors have been able to reach an agreement on common criteria for their respective collective labour market agreements. However, conflict continues to increase at sector level, particularly in relation to the reduction of working time. The impact of this conflict has also been felt at national bargaining level, with social partners within the tripartite permanent committee on employment and labour law reporting recent difficulties.


Footnotes

  1. ^ Eurofound (2019), Latest working life developments Q2 .
  2. ^ Le Quotidien (2019), 'ArcelorMittal n’a pas fait un travail sérieux', tance l’OGBL , 14 September 2019.
  3. ^ Chronicle.lu (2019), Luxembourg Parliament Passes Bill Strengthening Inclusion in the Workplace , 11 July.
  4. ^ OGBL (2019), Conclusion de la nouvelle convention collective de travail pour le secteur du gardiennage: un résultat très mitigé!, 30 August. FEDIL (2019), Renouvellement de la convention collective du secteur de la sécurité privée , 10 September.

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