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ISSUE 52 page 3

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Better take-up of EU globalisation fund but money still too slow to arrive

THE EUROPEAN GLOBALISATION ADJUSTMENT FUND (EGF) was set up in 2007 to help workers made redundant due to company restructuring affected by globalisation, for instance the removal of a factory from western to eastern Europe. Last year the rules were relaxed, both to encourage more applications, only 13 were received in the first two years, and to allow victims of the financial crash to qualify for assistance. The money, which can be up to 65% of the total, the rest coming from the Member State concerned, is to help the workers to re-integrate into the labour market by supporting retraining, job guidance, job search, business set-up and allowances for educational courses. Now a recently released report from the EU Commission shows that  the number of applications, amount requested and numbers of workers involved all rose sharply in 2009. Over €166 million was asked for last year, a 700% increase over 2008, with over €52 million being distributed to help nearly 11,000 redundant employees. Although this sounds impressive the Commission originally envisaged allocating €500 million a year to the scheme yet only €140 million has been paid out of total applications for €373 million since 2007.
One of the problems is the length of time taken before the money is actually made available. The Commission believes that approvals take eight months on average but the European Parliament says that seventeen months can elapse from the moment that an application is submitted. In a report on the fund the parliament recommended that this time lag be halved and blamed the fact that each decision had to be approved by MEPs and the Council of Ministers for the delay. The reason for this procedure is that only unspent money from other budgets is used for the globalisation fund which has no budget heading of its own. The report was backed by Employment Commissioner Andor who agreed that this situation should be remedied by 2013.
The Commission has also received information on the results of nine grants already made showing that 40% of the workers concerned found new jobs during the period of support from the fund (now a maximum of two years). According to Andor ‘Over the past three years, the EGF has become a key instrument in helping workers who have lost their jobs,  …  but the time it takes for cash to reach those most in need is still too long and efficiency and delivery of this fund is where we now need to focus our efforts’ 

Two’s company in ground-breaking Euro-deal

A NEW AGREEMENT CONCLUDED BY the European Metalworkers’ Federation is the first-ever to involve two different companies at European level. The energy firm Areva T & D is to be taken over by two French conglomerates, transmission going to Alstom and distribution activities to Schneider Electric. Employee concerns over redundancy and job transfer were addressed at an Areva European Works Council (EWC) meeting in January by the Chief Executive Officers of the acquiring companies. The union federation put meat on the bones of these assurances in July when both sets of management agreed that all former Areva employees would be entitled to a new job equivalent to their old one, no more than 10km., away, and that no plant would be closed before 2013. There will also be no compulsory collective redundancies before that date ‘unless economic conditions significantly deteriorate’ as defined in a previous EWC meeting. The agreement also protects the existing workers at Alstom and Schneider from any possible discrimination compared to the Areva newcomers as a result of the undertakings given to them.  The companies commit themselves to integrate the new workers as soon as possible through training and consideration of the Areva EWC policies on topics like equal opportunities on the merged committees.

Swedish union hits the jackpot in art market
 SWEDISH TRADE UNION UNIONEN RECEIVED an unexpected boost to its funds recently. A sculpture that had been relegated from reception to the office canteen was sold at London auction house Christie’s ‘Frieze week’ for £4.5 million. ‘Cavaliere’ by Italian sculptor Marino Marini was originally bought by a member of the Sif union for about £1,000 in 1955. After a merger between Sif and HTF the new body decided to hold an inventory and was amazed to discover that the work was valued at £1.2-1.8 million. ‘We cannot own such works, we cannot insure them’ said Hanna Brandt Gonzalez, deputy administrative director for Unionen. In the event interest from collectors was intense, tripling the estimate, ‘We were a bit surprised that it was so much’ added the spokesperson
 Cavaliere statue

The bronze statue of a horseman
that boosted union funds

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