General Electric cannot underestimate the responsibility it has to bear and sustain in contributing to European energy production and independence.
After again having to reiterate in March their stern warning against decisions which are heading GE towards irreversible consequences, trade unions representing GE workers across Europe decided to run a series of Action Days under the coordination of industriAll Europe (#2018ActionDay_GE). GE workers carried out actions across the continent to demonstrate their determination to reject the planned 5,500 job cuts and urge GE management to suspend its restructuring plan. The successful actions send a very strong signal about GE workers’ and trade unions’ commitment to ensure the future of their jobs and industrial sites in Europe.
As of 25 April, to coincide with the annual shareholders meeting of General Electric, workers united under the banner of industriAll Europe to draw attention to their plight. During this time, dedicated GE workers and their trade unions in Jenbach (Austria), at Belgian sites (Belgium), in Zagreb (Croatia), Brno (Czech Republic), at all French sites including that of Belfort (France), in Mönchengladbach, Stuttgart, Berlin & Mannheim (Germany), Florence (Italy), Barcelona & Madrid (Spain), Uppsala and Umeå (Sweden), and Rugby (UK) carried out worker assemblies, signed petitions, distributed flyers, sent information letters, published press releases, conducted press conferences and successfully demonstrated to GE Management that they have had ENOUGH of short-sighted and mainly financially-driven strategies that put their livelihoods at risk.
Solidarity with the GE workers came from far and wide, from the United States and Canada, where workers demonstrated outside the GE shareholders meeting in Pittsburgh demanding that GE commit to their communities.
Despite GE being a highly profitable multinational group with its energy businesses generating 3.7 billion dollars profit in 2017, it has chosen to further reduce its industrial footprint by 30% by 2020, close strategic sites and slash an additional 5,500 jobs in Europe. This brutal, drastic and short-term move is aimed at nothing else than generating instant cash to bring back the lost shareholder confidence following the 47% stock price drop in one year. And yet, shareholders must on the contrary get prepared to a further decline should GE proceed with its plan. As GE trade unions have been warning for years, the destruction of GE industrial and social capacities will irreversibly damage its ability to serve the energy market.
This decision by GE management calls the company’s entire strategy into question. Boasting to be an “innovation-driven” and “sustainable company”, GE is now planning to close R&D centres and drastically cut innovation investments alongside plant closures and massive job cuts which will lead to a loss of strategic know-how.
Sylvain Lefebvre, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary said; "We remain flabbergasted by the inconsistency of GE strategy and we will not let workers bear the brunt of incoherent management! The workers have made their voice heard - Enough is ENOUGH. What GE needs now is an alternative strategy oriented towards long-term industrial growth based on high-level investments, ground-breaking innovation which will lead to job creation and quality jobs”.
“General Electric cannot underestimate the responsibility it has to bear and sustain in contributing to European energy production and independence”, stated Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe General Secretary. “We will continue to urge GE to commit to maintaining a strong industrial base and manufacturing capacities in Europe to support EU energy policy”.
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