Published: 18/03/2013

A meeting for European members of the Danone Committee for Information and Consultation (CIC) took place on 19 February 2013 with some 40 trade union delegates representing Danone workers from 13 European countries. The meeting was called in connection with the company’s announcement of a proposed cost-cutting plan affecting employment in Europe.

Danone Group Chief Operations Officer Emmanuel Faber and Executive Vice President for Human Resources Muriel Pénicaud presented the plan, its rationale and details of its impact on employment verbally and in a 135-page confidential document entitled “Adaptation and competitiveness project in Europe”.

In order to reverse the downturn in their European business (linked to the Europe-wide recession and austerity measures) and ensure its sustainable competitiveness, Danone proposes a series of measures aimed at streamlining the managerial structure and operational processes. These include reorganizing and simplifying the Country Business Unit (CBU) model and “clustering” operational functions across countries.

The proposed measures are expected to result in the loss of 901 executive, managerial and support staff jobs. Danone indicated that the job losses would be carried out over a period of two years and would be achieved through natural turnover and voluntary departures as far as possible.

In the meeting that followed the presentation and questions and answers, it was agreed amongst IUF affiliates to request that an independent analysis of the plan be carried out, looking in particular at the economic interest of the plan for Danone’s future financial independence, the real cost of implementing the plan, and its potential effects on employment and working conditions in the affected departments. Furthermore it was agreed to request that a framework agreement establishing the procedures for European-level consultation on the reorganization and cost-cutting plan and minimum standards for its implementation be negotiated by the CIC-COPIL.

In agreement with Danone, the independent analysis has been commissioned and is to be ready for the follow-up EURO CIC meeting, scheduled to take place in May. The CIC-COPIL has met and negotiated a draft agreement which should be finalized shortly.

Delegates from Danone’s operations in Spain reported that the company had announced the elimination of 122 sales force jobs and the closure of the Seville dairy factory with the loss of 83 jobs – outside the framework of the cost-cutting plan.

Meeting delegates expressed their support and solidarity to IUF affiliates in Spain and their members in their struggle against a government keen on imposing callous austerity measures on a population already suffering through an economic crisis they had no part in creating. With the announced elimination of over 300 jobs in Spain, Danone is contributing to this hardship.

Please find here the statement which reflects the consensus of opinions expressed by IUF delegates at the February 19 meeting.