Meanwhile, on the other side of the barricades, a group of organisations representing employers issued a manifesto and a petition demanding they be allowed to run their businesses as free entrepreneurs.
Both sides claim to have the same goal in mind: the recovery of the economy and the stimulation of employment. But the positions are father apart than that claim would suggest.
The plan actually involved cutting a total of 299 jobs, not all of which could be covered by early retirement or other unforced redundancies. But about 40 jobs would have been created in a new customer service division. Just two days before the end of the dispute, the differences seemed unbridgeable. A second attempt to bring management and unions together flopped on Wednesday, 20 January, with local negotiators unable to make a move without being overruled by senior management in Brazil.
The workers are protesting at plans by the company to cut 263 jobs. They have been blockading the Leuven plant since 7 January. Such a lengthy stoppage is unusual in recent Belgian industrial history, and lay-offs equal to or greater than those announced by InBev have not led to the same result when announced elsewhere. But InBev is profitable: the latest results showed profits of €3 billion on sales of €27bn. Against that background, unions said, the cutting of so many jobs is “decadent”.
The decision confirms rumours that have been circulating since November, when plans were announced for restructuring in Central Europe. Despite attempts by the company to quell speculation, rumours were rife that a round of cuts in Western Europe would follow.
Other owners plan to serve lunch smoke free while allowing smoking in the afternoon and evening – although this may bring them to the attention of the 100 health inspectors who have been sent out across the country to check on implementation of the new law. In the first three months, federal health ministry inspectors will only issue warnings, but after that fines will be applicable.
A prominent and well-liked local businessman, Lano (pictured) was politically active as a member of his local municipal council. He was formerly mayor of Harelbeke but had to resign after switching allegiance from the CVP (now CD&V) to VLD. He was later elected to the federal parliament.
The Kyoto protocol set a target for Flanders of a 5.2% decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases over the period 2008-2012, compared to the reference year 1990. In fact, the total reduction in greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2008 was more than 10% – leading to Schauvliege’s triumphant announcement earlier this year when the figures became known.
DHL will maintain a local office in the Brussels area, but 523 people will be let go from the current head office in Diegem. A further 231 jobs will be lost at the sorting centre DHL Aviation, and 34 more at European Air Transport (EAT), which covers Europe and part of the Middle East and North Africa. Unions at DHL Aviation are already in discussions over 94 redundancies previously announced.
According to the senator, who sits in the equal opportunities commission, the effects of the glass ceiling in the financial-economic sector and in the judiciary have led to crisis. A policy to increase the number of women in senior positions, she argues, could help resolve the problem.