Expatica news

Resentment at GM accord

2 July 2007

BRUSSELS – Employers’ organisations are not at all pleased at the golden handshake being offered a maximum of 750 workers being forced to resign at GM’s Opel Antwerp plant.

Employers fear that a generous settlement reached at VW-Vorst earlier this year has now set a disastrous precedent.

General Motors plans to halve its three production teams by the end of the year by letting go of 1,681 labourers and 180 administrative workers. Management and the unions have already reached agreement on severance pay for the labourers.

The agreement includes either a “golden handshake” of EUR 144,000 gross for anyone who has worked at GM for at least 25 years, or early retirement from the age of 50 at 82 to 89 percent of the last salary earned. The redundancy packages are being offered on a voluntary basis.

The unions are convinced that enough people will opt for the early retirement scheme because the current proposal is more advantageous than in previous reorganisations. There are more than 1,100 candidates for redundancy this time.

Employers’ organisations like VBO and Agoria warn this could start a dangerous trend, since VW Vorst also offered redundancy candidates similar conditions earlier this year. The New Flemish Alliance N-VA is also opposed. Former Volvo CEO Peter Leyman, now an MP for the Flemish Christian Democrats CD&V, says the accord is “almost immoral.” The unions responded that they do not need any lectures in morality.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news