Friday, May 20, 2005

Compare and contrast management styles

I took a step back yesterday when I heard about the Finnish paper makers locking out workers who have, in the past month, declined to work overtime and eventually felt moved to strike over attempt to change their working conditions.

Surely jaw-jaw is better than war-war.

About a third of Finnland's chemicals industry is closely tied to the forrestry industry.

The lock-out will last for at least 10 working day s from last Tuesday and could easily extend to a full month. The employers positon makes a compromise harder to reach, and therefore increases their chance of "losing" the dispute.

Unforseen consequence:

Finland is running out of toilet paper and the lock out is only three days old.

Contrast the Finnish paper makers with France's Arkema.

The company badly needs to restructure is loss-making vinyls business and can go about it now that the consultation period with unions and stakeholders is over. This started in January. The company has consulted and has made changed parts of its original plan, especially to the way it will calculate eligibility for retirement, and the help it gives employees who want to start their own businesses or who want to relocate within the firm.

This may not be the cheapest way of running a company, but from management terms it is enlightened. By making consessions, it increases the hollowness of further claims by the unions that they and their workers have been badly treated.

See story below

Chemical News and Intelligence today

Finnish paper strike: negotiations fail to end lock-out

LONDON (CNI)--The Finnish paper workers’ union Pappersförbundet and employer organisation Skogsindustrin (Federation of the Finnish Paper Industry) failed in talks on Friday to settle their dispute.

Finland's paper mills have been shut in a row over pay and conditions which has progressively affected production at the country's suppliers of bleaching agents and other paper chemical products.

On Wednesday the entire pulp and paper industry was brought to a virtual standstill after employers instituted a lock-out following a two-day strike. The lock-out could last up to 15 June, according to the employers.

Pappersförbundet said in a statement today that the forest industries’ employers have “consciously rejected the central incomes policy settlement, which was aimed to further economical growth and Finnish welfare”.

“The bargaining at branch level has turned out to be meetings where the employer tries to dictate without taking account of the workers’ view,” it added.

Martti Niskanen, deputy director of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland - which represents chemical producers, told CNI that the lock-out could in theory last longer than the planned four weeks if the parties do no come to an agreement. But he said this would be difficult to predict at this stage.

He added that chemicals companies are currently cutting down production to one-third of normal capacity, but are seeking alternative ways to sell or store their products. However, after a two-week period with no activity at the paper factories, chemical suppliers could be forced to shut down their production completely.

Lauri Ihalainen, spokesman for the associated FFC union, today suggested that the negotiations should be postponed to the autumn, (Q4) according to Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. He said work should resume now, enabling the parties to clearly define their different views.

New negotiations are due to take place on Wednesday (25 May).

Arkema presses on with vinyls resturcturing

LONDON (CNI)--French chemicals company Arkema announced Friday that it will press on with restructuring its loss-making vinyls products business in France after completing its consultation process, although the works council rejected the company’s plans on 19 May.

Arkema's plants at Saint-Auban, Saint-Fons, Balan and Jarrie will be affected by the process, which should be completed by the end of 2006.

Arkema has made changes to the original proposal. These include increasing the amount it invests in the Saint Auban site by Euro4m ($5m) to Euro39m to protect 25 jobs.

The works council rejected the company’s proposal on 19 May along with the company’s improved package, making it more attractive for people born before 1 January 1956 to retire early. This takes the number of potential retirees to 346 on 19 May from 318 when the process started in January, out of a total of 523 job losses.

Incentives include a one-off payment of 1.2 months' pay for every year that a worker retires earlier than their normal retirement age.

Workers who opt to move within Arkema will be given jobs locally, trained, and given relocation assistance. There is compensation of Euro20,000 for workers whose partner loses a job. For those who wish to start their own business, aid between Euro27,000 and Euro15,000 will be available. Workers losing their jobs could receive redundancy payments equivalent to 36 months' salary.

Trades unions at the facilities have consistently opposed the restructuring, as has the local president of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, Juean-Louis Bianco, who in January offered to underpin investment needed to retain investment at the Saint-Auban site.

Blogwise - blog directory