Commission to help Belgian Ford workers get new jobs

  
Genk car workers protest,October 2003. [Dimi15/Flickr]

On 22 August, the European Commission proposed funding for redundant car workers in Belgium’s Ford factory to acquire new skills and find new jobs. Based in the Flemish city of Genk, the workers were told in October 2012 that they would be laid off in 2014.

Ford's 479 redundant workers, and its suppliers in Belgium, are to receive €570,945 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to find new jobs. The decision comes after Belgium applied for EGF funding, following Ford's announcement in October 2012 that it would close down its plant in Genk by 2014. 

The Commission proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU Council, for approval.

"Car production in Europe has dropped considerably in the years of the Eurozone crisis, mainly due to falling demand," said Employment Commissioner László Andor in a written statement. He stated that it was important to “show solidarity” with the workers in the motor industry, who are experiencing hardship in the conditions of a globalised economy. 

The money from the Commission will be spent on retraining former Ford workers, on vocational guidance, and assistance with the job-searching, as well as other forms of assistance.

Rohnny Champagne, the head of the ABVV-Metaal Limburg trade union wrote in an email to EurActiv that every Commission initiative to help unemployed Ford workers is welcomed but disagreed how the funds are distributed. He believes the financial allocation should be better shared among the redundant workers rather than given to an employment agency. “The only ones who will be better from all this, are the training facilitators and not our workers,” Champagne continued. 

Ford employees are not the first in the automobile industry in Belgium to receive EGF funding. Belgium has already submitted seven applications to help redundant workers. These came from Opel Antwerp, as well as the Belgian steel and textile sectors. 

Since the creation of the EGF, the European Commission has received 128 applications from different sectors, from more than 20 member countries. Automotive, machinery and equipment, and textile sectors have submitted the highest number of applications for the period 2007-2014. Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy are the top recipients of the EGF money, and on average the Fund disbursed almost €5,000 per person.  

In the past few months, the Commission approved applications coming from Spanish carpentry, bar and restaurant workers, the Dutch construction sector, and from a bakery closure in Greece.  

Despite the demand, the budget for the 2014-2020 period has been reduced from €500 million to €150 million. Some ten member states campaigned in 2012 to scrap the existence of the fund, but the Council reached a compromise to keep it with a lower budget. 

EU globalisation fund in peril as countries seek budget cuts on EurActiv

EU globalisation fund in peril as countries seek budget cuts

More on EurActiv »

Under the 2014-2020 new rules, the EGF can finance up to 60% of the cost of projects benefiting the self-employed, temporary and fixed-term workers whose activity ended. The scheme was also extended until the end of 2017 to include young people not in employment, education or training. Farmers were also proposed by the Commission to be included in the Fund's provision, but the European Parliament rejected the initiative.  

Timeline: 
  • Autumn 2014: First reading in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU
External links: 
Advertising

Comments

Jay's picture

500 million promised reduced to 150 million, 674 million going to Africa, no telling how many billions Ukraine reconstruction will cost, unemployment on the rise, EU economy contracting....If I come across any good news I'll be back to pass it along.

Joe Thorpe's picture

On the plus side Galileo was a rip roaring success it didn't blow on the launch pad & with the American GPS system we will be able to track them on their elliptical orbit forever & a day. The EU needs aircraft carriers & missile defense systems to defend itself not satellites that can tell someone where they parked their car

Jay's picture

The EU doesn't fight with anything other than it's mouth. OSCE is strictly an observer organization --they might need a GPS to find their way around in the dark, Europe already has patriot missile defense systems --the Danes are bringing two systems back from Turkey, use those.

Content Partners