Our statement today sets out the steps needed to avoid mass redundancies and secure a sustainable future for our industry. Our message must be heeded by governments, policymakers and corporate leaders.
The European automotive sector is facing an unprecedented crisis. About 1.1 million workers in Europe’s car manufacturing alone have been impacted by production stops or production slow down due to COVID-19 and low demand. Many car manufacturers have announced major restructuring programmes or closures and numerous jobs are currently being lost in the automotive value chains.
Against this background, industriAll Europe has issued a statement that details our demands for a robust and sustainable recovery of this strategic sector. Strategic, because of its importance as a provider of quality employment, as a market for basic industries (steel, rubber, glass, chemicals), as a leader in research and innovation as well as in exports.
It is evident, that the COVID-19 crisis has worsened an already difficult situation for European car manufacturers. That is why industriAll Europe is putting forward its proposals and demands for a long-term strategy that facilitates the necessary transformation of the EU automotive industry towards sustainable vehicles and vessels as well as alternative fuels.
IndustriAll Europe welcomes that the sector has been identified as a priority for the EU Recovery strategy. Sufficient resources must now be mobilised by the new €750 billion recovery instrument ‘Next Generation EU’ and the revised EU budget to support the sector in line with EU long term objectives. At the same time, we insist that public money is not used to pay dividends and bonuses. Instead, companies must invest in European production facilities and keep employment at the highest possible level.
Crucially, the European automotive sector needs both an industrial strategy to cope with decarbonisation and digitalisation and an employment strategy to steer and anticipate the changes ahead of us.
It is key to set up a comprehensive industrial strategy that aims to keep the automotive industry and related value chains in Europe as millions of highly qualified quality jobs are at stake. Our demands for an industrial policy strategy thus include, among others, investment support for new sustainable technologies, promoting RDI collaboration, investing in digital infrastructure to facilitate connectivity between vehicles, implementing a circular economy (recycling, re-manufacturing, re-use) in the automotive supply chain and supporting SMEs.
In terms of employment strategy, industriAll Europe demands a Just Transition master plan for the sector. Mass redundancies must be avoided, and solutions should be found for every worker involved in a restructuring process. Such solutions may include early retirement, internal mobility, up- and re-skilling towards new future-oriented jobs and maintaining a labour contract during the transition to a new job. Finally, ensuring social dialogue and worker participation is of utmost importance to deal with the changes ahead of us. All too often job cuts are announced in the press without prior information and consultation of the workers representatives. This is a deplorable practice and an unacceptable infringement of EU legislation.
Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe’s Deputy General Secretary:
“Automotive workers are facing a perfect storm of structural change, decarbonisation and the colossal economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Europe’s legal commitments to ensure a Just Transition will ring hollow to millions of workers across Europe if political engagement doesn’t come quickly on the EU recovery plan and a sectoral strategy to anticipate and manage the changes underway. Our statement today sets out the steps needed to avoid mass redundancies and secure a sustainable future for our industry. Our message must be heeded by governments, policymakers and corporate leaders.”