SUEZ: No delocalisation of jobs but shared services centres affect jobs

Suez management made an unprecedented commitment to the European Works Council of Suez: no jobs will be delocalised. This was in response to questions of members of the EWC and EPSU Deputy General (coordinator for the EWC) regarding proposals to created share-service centres. These centres will bring together so-called back-office services such as IT management, HR administration, call-centres etc. Depending on the activities of Suez in a country and the size of the country, there can be one or more centres. Other companies have done this already. The EWC saw this as a step to allow outsourcing and delocalisation in the future. The EWC is further worried that the shared Services Centres will lead to job losses, which was not denied by management. EPSU Deputy General Secretary: “The centres are about increasing productivity, efficiency and cost reduction, and will thus affect jobs”. Savings of up to 20-30% are possible, and while not all savings will be made by reducing employment, members of the EWC estimate that up to 17.000 employees work in the services concerned in Europe. The Shared Service Centres could be installed gradually over the next 5-7 years allowing for measures, including (re-)training for those affected and re-employment in the group, to ensure no forced redundancies will take place. Management committed to fully consult the works councils and trade unions at local, national and European level. Works councils and trade unions are recommended to raise the issue of shared service centres with management.

Other issues discussed included:

-* Company strategy and the take-over by Suez of Electrabel

-* A critical analysis of current work on health and safety as the number of (fatal) accidents remains very high. Management and the (Bureau) of the EWC will consider this further

-* Presentation by management of the European Company. Questions like: where will the new company be registered; which companies are concerned; will it be a monistic or a dualistic system with a supervisory board and the form of the SE remain open. Members of the EWC discussed the SE further in the debriefing meeting based on a presentation EPSU Deputy General Secretary. “It is likely that the company will be registered in France or Belgium, that it will be a monistic system and that the form will be a merger between Electrabel and Suez, thus concerning all Suez European operations. We will only know for sure when management takes the decisions. But now is the time to start preparing.” Members are encouraged to discuss with their unions the SE and seek training.

-* The Suez EWC has recently received training on the First Class communication system pioneered by the ETUC's training institute. A special space is created to consider the European Company and collect information.

-* Equality between men and women. The EWC has a work group and an action plan was provided to the EWC

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