European social partners take part in joint conference to discuss restructuring in the new EU Member States

Brussels, 28/06/2006

At the end of the two-day conference, the general secretaries[[ . European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), General Secretary John Monks; European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP), Secretary-General Rainer Plassman; Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE), Secretary-General Philippe de Buck; European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), Secretary-General Hans-Werner Müller.]] of the social partner organisations concluded by emphasising that restructuring is an undeniable reality in our society. They nevertheless recognised that it can be a painful process for the individuals involved, and this makes it necessary to anticipate and manage change.

Good information and consultation procedures for workers make an important contribution to reducing fear and resistance in the face of change.

Philippe de Buck, Secretary-General of UNICE, concluded the meeting by declaring: {“Restructuring is inevitable and necessary to growth and job-creation. Companies must therefore be able to adapt, and to accompany this process with dialogue between the social partners.”
}Rainer Plassman, Secretary-General of CEEP, explained: {“Services of general interest play an essential role in guaranteeing cohesion in the process of restructuring. They are central to the anticipation of change, in ensuring that adequate levels of practical and social infrastructure are provided in the areas where they operate.”
}For his part, Hans-Werner Müller, Secretary-General of UEAPME commented: {“Small and medium-sized enterprises are affected not only by the phenomenon but also by the consequences of restructuring, in particular when this concerns subcontracted firms working for big companies. On the other hand, they can play an important 'buffer' role in creating new jobs.”
}John Monks, General Secretary of the ETUC, concluded by saying: {“Trade unions are not opposed to change, but we are concerned about the way it is managed. It is crucial to send a positive message to workers and to restore their confidence when confronted with an unsettling experience. Information and consultation is the priority in this context, followed up by lifelong learning and retraining.”

}The conference participants underlined the importance, from the social partners' point of view, of fully understanding the challenges linked to restructuring in order to be able to anticipate and manage change.
Given the success of this joint project, it will be extended to the 15 'old' EU Member States in the framework of the Work Programme 2006-2008.

For more information please contact:}}

Patricia Grillo, ETUC Tel: + 32 (0)2 224 04 30

Maria Fernanda Fau, UNICE Tel.:+32(0)2 237 65 62

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP Tel: +32 (0) 2 229 21 42

Francesco Longu, UEAPME Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 75 99