Akzo cuts 200 research jobs

The decentralisation of Akzo Nobel's research activities - announced in November 1998 - will result in the loss of 200 jobs in the Netherlands. The Christian Trade Union Federation (CNV) fears that short-term thinking will prevail in the wake of the chemicals group's decentralisation.

In mid-November 1998, the chemicals groupAkzo Nobel announced plans to eliminate 200 jobs at its central research divisions in Arnhem and Deventer in the Netherlands. Factors precipitating the reorganisation include the recent takeover by Akzo of the British company, Courtaulds, and a decision drastically to decentralise research projects at Akzo. As a result, researchers will soon be dispatched to separate company departments. Akzo employs 7,000 researchers worldwide. The central research divisions employ a total of 1,400 researchers, of whom 900 work in Arnhem and Deventer.

Reacting to the announcement, CNV-Bedrijvenbond, the sectoral affiliate of the Christian Trade Union Federation (Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond, CNV) stated that compulsory redundancies were simply not an option. Meanwhile, Akzo announced that overcapacity would be reduced by offering voluntary early retirement to a maximum of 120 employees aged 55 years and older. The jobs of the remaining 80 employees will be phased out over a period of one to three years.

The trade unions, and particularly CNV-Bedrijvenbond, reacted with a similarly critical view of the decentralisation policy. According to a union spokesperson, a four-year period of centralisation has only recently been completed. The union also worries that short-term thinking will prevail at Akzo, since from now on researchers may direct their work solely to answering specific questions put forward by company departments. Akzo denied these allegations and maintained that future research groups would be well equipped to take on long-term projects as well.

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