The employees of dairy producer Danone in Rotselaar at a staff meeting on November 19 approved the draft agreement regarding restructuring and redundancies that management and unions had achieved. After an 8 days of strike majority of workforce started production again on November 20.
Initially the board had voiced to cut 75 positions (63 production workers and 12 white collar workers) in mid-September due to the revenue decline in the Actimel drink (-35 per cent since 2009) despite several measures to avoid redundancy were taken such as stopping the weekend production and reducing the production. As a result of strike and negotiations with the unions, the job losses at the factory level are limited to 48 in the agreement. At the request of the trade unions, measures were included in the agreement to ensure that the work load remains within acceptable limits once the restructuring plans are implemented. These measures include the employment of additional staff during peak production periods and of replacement staff during absences.
With the approval of this agreement, consultation and information phase regarding the restructuring between the management and trade union has been closed and negotiations on the social plan has started. According to union secretary Kris Vanautgaerden (ACV) the intention is to complete social plan negotiations before mid-December. However some basic agreements were already made regarding early retirement at 55 and that voluntary departure will be encouraged.