Following attempts to impose a revised collective agreement with highly unfavourable conditions on its workforce, the D’Ieteren Group – the first car importer in Belgium and mobility service provider – has launched a collective dismissal procedure and announced the closure of two historical sites located in the Brussels area.

This is unfortunately another example of unacceptable blackmail from an employer who brutally penalises workers who reject a proposal that would dramatically reduce their salaries and damage their working conditions.

“This is not how industrial relations should work! Employers cannot simply deny trade unions their right to negotiate and unilaterally impose a “take it or leave it” proposal under a threat of massive layoffs and site closures”, responded Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe’s General Secretary.

“Such behaviour is particularly unacceptable from a group which continues to make profits and has the resources to manage structural change in a socially fair way.”

What is happening at D’Ieteren is also an illustration of an uncertain future that workers in the automotive sector face – a sector that is undergoing massive and rapid transition. The current digitalisation of the sector (including sales and maintenance), as well as the necessary shift towards cleaner mobility, are putting millions of jobs in Europe at risk, across supply chains. Managing this structural change in a socially acceptable manner requires strong social relations and respect of workers’ rights. The methods used by D’Ieteren are unacceptable. They are the perfect recipe for a social disaster.

IndustriAll Europe strongly rejects a transition based on social carnage. According to a recent study, 2.4 million jobs will change by 2030 in the core automotive and adjacent industries, with differing degrees of training needed to prepare workers for future job demands. This is equivalent to 42% of the workforce of the sector.

“Managing structural change in the automotive industry will require massive efforts to accompany workers with support measures. For this, Europe needs a stronger legal framework to anticipate change and support workers through the twin digital and climate transition. What matters in the end, is what happens at company level. This will determine if Just Transition will be more than just nice words”, stressed Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe.

Contact: Andrea Husen-Bradley (press and communication), Benjamin Denis (senior policy adviser)