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22 April 2020
Great Britain: coronavirus boom in trade union membership.
On 20 April, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, Unison (public sector), released a statement showing a record number of people seeking to take out membership. Since the start of 2020 almost 16,000 workers have applied for membership and Unison has noted ‘record numbers signing up in the last few weeks,’ or more specifically in March and at the start of April when the Covid-19 pandemic really started to take a hold of the UK. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis commented, “People are joining the union...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
21 April 2020
Italy: fashion industry gears up to re-open
On 15 April a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the social partners that enables the re-opening of the fashion industry, a fundamental ‘Made in Italy’ pillar, while guaranteeing workers’ safety. Although the catalogue of preventive and protective measures to combat coronavirus is not particularly original in content, the social partners have been innovative in giving consultation an ongoing role at both national and company level.
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
21 April 2020
Spain: agreement between electricity companies and the government to cushion the impact of coal-fired plant closures
On 17 April, the electricity companies Endesa, Iberdrola and Naturgy together with the Ministries of Labour and Ecological Transition, as well as the trade unions CCOO and UGT secured an agreement for a just transition. It sets the framework for the conclusion of specific agreements to be drawn up in each affected region, which will attempt to cushion the impact of coal-fired power plant closures and help find solutions for each region. The parties thus undertake to collaborate on providing specific support for...
20 April 2020
Spain: PSA plant in Vigo to resume production at low capacity and set up a new partial unemployment scheme to run until year end
The Vigo plant of French automobile group PSA is preparing to resume activity from 27 April , following a six-week lockdown in Spain after the state of alert decree issued on 15 March. However, this return to work should be gradual and at low capacity, since order volumes are expected to be diminished. This new business landscape has prompted management to present a temporary job reduction plan (ERTE) to the works council, justified for organisational and production reasons. The plan guarantees 80% of gross salary...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
20 April 2020
Belgium: social partners in construction sector pen agreement to re-open sites with social distancing measures applied
On Thursday 16 April, after a month of negotiations, the social partners in Belgium’s construction industry agreed to resume work on sites while respecting as far as possible the rules of social distancing, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. According to the construction confederation, workers will have the right to “respond positively or negatively” to their employer’s request when work has to be carried out in a building “in which one or more cases of coronavirus have been detected” or if the...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
20 April 2020
France: mutual insurance companies encourage employees to take days off during the health crisis with donations to charity for each day taken
While French companies sway back and forth between negotiation and unilateral measures to organise the use of annual leave, as they strive to manage this ongoing period of declining activity (on the legal framework see article n°11761), mutual insurers are proposing an alternative model. No mandatory leave is imposed, but employees are encouraged to take days off and participate in a...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
17 April 2020
Spain: metal sector social partners jointly draw up guide with measures to prevent spread of Covid-19 in the workplace
In preparation for the gradual resumption of business in the metals sector, which began on 13 April, social partners in the industry – Confemetal on the employer side and CCOO-Industria and UGT-FICA on the trade union side –  have drawn up a document that builds upon the guidelines recommended by the health ministry and which has already served as a basis for similar guides in the construction and automobile sectors (see article n°11835).
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
17 April 2020
Hungary: several large automobile firms and their suppliers recommence production
At Audi some 100 workers have started working once again in the engine department. The automobile manufacturer devised a comprehensive range of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in its factory, in compliance with the regulations set out by Hungarian health authorities. In all workplaces, a safe distance of 1.5 metres must be kept between workers. All staff will be given obligatory training as well as full information as regards the necessary precautions. In a statement, the independent trade union...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
16 April 2020
France: agreement on activity management and job preservation at Danone
The group has ruled out, at least until 31 May 2020, resorting to short-time working measures. The majority agreement signed on 6 April by the SNI2A CFE-CGC and CFDT* trade unions seeks to manage the situation for its employees that are enduring a period of reduced activity due to the health crisis, by encouraging training, redeployment to other functions, and use of holiday allowances. Under the agreement, a rather innovative measure will see each employee assess their workload in conjunction with their manager...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
15 April 2020
Spain: government and social partners in automobile and construction industries issue recommendations on workplace safety to govern the recommencement of work
After 14 days with all non-essential activity in Spain brought to a complete halt, the country’s industry and construction sectors have gradually recommenced activity following the Easter weekend. Members of the country’s government have nonetheless insisted that this does not mark the end of lockdown. As some return to work, the health ministry has published a new ‘code of best...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19