Automotive – workers must not pay the price of transition

By Staff
3 Min Read

Last week, around 40 members of the industriAll Europe automotive network came to Brussels to report on the situation workers are facing in their respective countries, and to discuss their fears and expectations ahead of the next EU elections.

Despite the variety of contexts and situations, participants shared a series of concerns for the workers they represent.

Firstly, the pace of structural change, which is accelerating along with important job losses announced in the whole sector, hitting suppliers in particular.

Secondly, some companies are implementing aggressive, cost-cutting strategies, putting unprecedented pressure on workers and communities. Bad working conditions and extreme flexibility is gambling with workers’ health to a level that is unbearable.

Thirdly, there is harsh decoupling between financial profits of automakers and labour developments throughout the whole supply chain. The major European automakers recorded an historical total of €66.7 billion in net profit in 2023, an increase from €66.2 billion in 2022. The CEO of Stellantis received €36.5 billion as a 2023 compensation package.

“Employment destruction and deterioration of working conditions is even less acceptable when companies record historical profits and CEOs get insane pay. We are witnessing the opposite of a Just Transition, with maximum profits for the few, but pain and uncertainty for the many,” expressed Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe General Secretary.

Fourthly, in 2023, a fifth (19.5%) of the battery electric vehicles sold in the EU were made in China, including by legacy OEMs. Workers fear the consequences of this quick and massive reshaping of the global automotive industry, which seems to be unfavourable to the European workforce.

Fifthly, the adoption of the revised fiscal rules might undermine investments. The European automotive industry would need the support of public money to accelerate the roll-out of the charging and refuelling infrastructure, to provide incentives to purchase net-zero emission vehicles, or to better support workers and regions impacted by structural change.

“During the next mandate, Europe must create an industrial and Just Transition plan for the 13 million automotive workers. Europe cannot afford not to respond to the concerns of these workers, whereas it has set targets and policies that will quickly transform the sector,” underlined Judith Kirton-Darling.

Building on its campaign for “Good industrial jobs”, industriAll Europe asks Europe to devise bold measures for the automotive sector and its workers. To fuel the debate, industriAll Europe will work with its affiliates to discuss the following questions:

1.    An EU industrial strategy for a sustainable automotive industry and its supply chain
2.    A fair-trade policy framework
3.    A strengthened Just Transition framework
4.    A master plan to make mobility affordable for all

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