Proximus unions threaten to strike following news of 1,900 job cuts

Summary

Management at partially state-owned telecoms company Proximus have announced that 1,900 jobs would be eliminated over the coming three years, but also create 1,200 new ones

Job profiles go digital

Unions representing workers at telecoms company Proximus have submitted a notice of intention to strike, following the unexpected announcement that up to 1,900 people would lose their jobs. The company also announced that it would hire up to 1,200 new workers, making the announcement all the more disturbing to current staff.

“The digitalisation of the sector have reached a tipping point,” said the partially state-owned company in a statement. “Proximus must fundamentally reinvent itself and offer new digital solutions that answer the demands and needs of the client.”

In other words, the company wants to overhaul the staff with more tech-oriented workers. The sector is doggedly competitive, continued the statement and Proximus “is confronted with operational and personnel costs that are higher than those of our competitors”.

‘Disrespected’

It announced that some 1,900 jobs would be made redundant in the next three years, while 1,250 jobs would be created. New employees would have ICT and digital profiles. How many outright redundancies this would entail as opposed to voluntary or not replacing retirees is not yet clear.

Proximus said in the announcement that it planned talks with unions, who knew nothing of the plans until the press release was sent out. “Our people feel disrespected and overlooked,” said Bart Neyens of socialist union ACOD. “They had to find out in the media.”

The unions are also angry that they have had no information on how many employees could potentially be fired outright. “Forced terminations are a disaster for a good company,” said Neyens.

Photo: James Arthur Gekiere/BELGA