General Electric: Stop destroying industrial and social capacities GE needs for long-term growth

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Social Europe & Jobs

Press release

In January 2016, following its acquisition of Alstom Power, General Electric targeted 6,500 European jobs to be cut. The restructuring plan was supposedly meant to put GE energy-related activities back on the right track. And yet, in December 2017, another massive cost reduction plan was introduced which is targeting an additional 5,500 European jobs. In just two years, no fewer than 12,000 jobs in GE energy businesses were put on the chopping block across Europe.
 
Trade unions that represent GE workers in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom unanimously condemn these decisions and say ENOUGH to short-sighted, mainly financially-driven decisions which are jeopardising the future of the company. After having met GE management in Paris on 13 March to exchange about the group’s strategy on energy businesses, European trade unions reiterate their stern warning against decisions which are heading GE towards irreversible consequences (see enclosed the declaration by European trade unions). 
 
“Let’s not be mistaken: GE is not choosing to scrap its industrial base and innovation capacities in Europe, put thousands of workers and their families at risk, hence depriving itself from the resources it needs to secure its future as a last-resort option in order to ensure its survival. The group is not in danger. Quite the contrary, it is doing well. In 2017, financial results of GE energy businesses were positive with up to 3.7 billion dollars profit”, says Sylvain Lefebvre, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary. “What we are confronted with is nothing other than a brutal, drastic and short-term move aimed at generating instant cash to bring back the lost shareholder confidence following the 47% stock price drop in one year. And yet, shareholders can expect an even greater decline should GE proceed with its plan since, as trade unions have been warning for years, the destruction of GE industrial and social capacities will irreversibly damage its ability to serve the energy market. Not only is GE accountable to its shareholders but it is first and foremost accountable to the thousands of workers who are fully committed and devoted to helping GE thrive”. 
 
Trade unions from across Europe put it very bluntly: they will not let workers bear the brunt of incoherent management! Committed to defend the future of their jobs, sites and industry in Europe, they therefore demand that GE: 
#1 Suspend the restructuring plan, stop job cuts and plant closure; 
#2 Adopt an alternative long-term industrial growth-oriented strategy based on high-level investments, ground-breaking innovation, job creation and quality jobs; 
#3 Provide full transparency and regular information on GE strategy via close dialogue between trade unions and worker representatives on the one hand and actual GE decision-makers on the other, to anticipate and manage transition within GE in a socially responsible manner;
#4 Commit to maintaining GE manufacturing capacities in Europe to support EU energy policy. 
 
 
"With over 125 years of activity in Europe and the high-level expertise and technical know-how GE workers have developed, GE has become a key player in equipping Europe’s energy production”, stressed Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe General Secretary. “GE thus also has a tremendous responsibility to bear and sustain in contributing to the EU energy policy and energy independence by securing and further developing a strong industrial base in Europe”. 
 
European trade unions will pursue their coordination at national and European level in the coming weeks under the auspices of industriAll Europe. Further trade union actions and worker mobilisation are planned, and contact will be established with both EU and local policy-makers. 
 
Read this Press Release in EN, FR, DE
 
Download the full European trade unions’ declaration in EN, FR and DE
 
Contact person: Aline Conchon, aline.conchon@industriall-europe.eu, +32 22 26 00 54