Speak Up Energy

The European social partners for the European electricity industry had requested an update of the 2001 employment study by the Commission. The first results of this study into the effect of the opening of electricity and gas markets in Europe (covering all Member States and Roumania, Bulgaria and Turkey) were presented, 16 October. Their findings indicate that 23% of jobs have been lost between 1996 and 2006. It is a process that is still going on. The results of the study are based on surveys of the trade unions and companies. The consensus is that restructuring and job loss are largely attributed to liberalisation. There is no evidence that as a consequences of liberalisation jobs have been created elsewhere in the economy. EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan commented: “The impact of liberalisation has fallen squarely on workers who had to bear the consequences. Outsourcing, job loss, increased stress are some of the consequences.” The restructuring caused by liberalisation is wanted process. No accompanying measures have been taken and it has been largely down to companies and unions to find solutions. He added “We expect the European Commission to include a social chapter in its forth-coming energy policies expected for early next year.” Several case studies were presented including from ENEL, Gasunie/Gasterra and Vattenfall. SEKO’s Per-Ove Lööv and trade union official in Swedish company Vattenfall presented a case study on energy developments in Sweden and the Nordic market and the impact on the employees and the company. One of the problems in the sector is the lack of qualified staff. With companies taking care of themselves through redundancies, early retirement and other measures collectively companies did not invest sufficiently in new staff. “Local solutions create European problems” he argued. Employer and trade union representatives indicated that this needs European answers. The case studies will provide helpful guidance on how companies have dealt with restructuring and which measures work. The results of the study will also be discussed in the sectoral social dialogue committees of electricity and gas (expected to be approved before the end of the year).The seminar took place 16 October 2006, Brussels. Several trade union representatives took place, including from Romania. Eurelectric, Eurogas, and representatives of DG Employment and DG Energy were also present.

From European Federation of Public Service Unions

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