January 07, 2007 19:01 ET

Amicus urge for stronger employment protection as Peugeot shut shop

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 8, 2007) -

Embargoed until 00.01 Monday 8th January 2007

On the day Peugeot close their Ryton plant, Amicus Britain's biggest private sector union calls for stronger employment protection for UK workers and warns other employers that Peugeot's decision to abandon the UK has heralded a major union campaign to prevent other companies following suit.

Amicus has launched a national petition which it is taking to workplaces and shopping centres across the country. The petition condemns Peugeot's decision to pull out of the UK and urges the Government to introduce stronger employment protection for UK workers. The petition will be delivered to 10 Downing Street by the General Secretary in February 2007.

In April 2006 Peugeot announced its decision to close its plant at Ryton and shift production to Slovakia resulting in the loss of 2,300 jobs. The UK is the third largest market for Peugeot Citroen selling 280,000 cars in 2005 and 105,000 to the end of May 2006. The union has funded a major advertising campaign encouraging people not to buy Peugeot Citroen and to warn other companies that they should think again before going down the same road.

Amicus believes that weak UK labour laws are putting UK workers in the frontline for the sack compared to their European counterparts who enjoy superior employment protection.
Amicus' General Secretary, Derek Simpson, said:

"Today Peugeot will officially close Ryton. Its decision to abandon 2,300 loyal productive UK workers is a disgrace. Over a million jobs have been lost from UK industry in under a decade and the trend is worsening.

"We are urging the Government to introduce stronger employment protection for UK workers and warning other employers that Peugeot's decision to abandon the UK has heralded a major union campaign to prevent other companies following suit."

Notes to editors

Here are ten reasons why it is easier to sack UK workers than it is in France.

1.In France where more than 10 employees are affected the obligations to inform and consult are laid down in law and include a minimum number of meetings and timescales to be applied. In the UK there are no specifications about consultation.

2.There is a notice period of redundancies of up to 5 months in France compared to Britain where there is only 3

3.In France where more than 50 employees are at risk the employer has to propose a social compensation plan and provide that to the unions. The employer is obliged to listen to and study suggestions from the unions for mitigating the losses. No such obligation exists in the UK.

4.In France the works committee may appoint an accountant, paid for by the employer, who has 20-22 days to produce a report. The unions in France have the right to challenge the company's decision in a court of law. No such right exists in Britain.

5.In France detailed information also has to be provided to the government who will check that the employer has complied with all obligations and will apply time limits which the employer must follow before issuing notices of termination. No such obligation exists in the UK.

6.In France the costs of implementation of the social plan required in cases of more than 10 employees being made redundant are significant. The social plan is likely to address internal redeployment, retraining, relocation packages and re-employment of spouses and partners.

7.On Average in France it costs GBP 100, 000 to make a French worker redundant. In Britain the maximum allowed for statutory redundancy is GBP 5000 for 20 years service.

8.In the UK there is no "right to strike", only immunity against legal recourse providing a lengthy balloting process is followed. In France they have the right to take immediate industrial action and solidarity action to challenge company decisions. In France the right to strike is included in the constitutional rights of all workers.

9.French politicians would be shamed out of office unless they made every effort to protect jobs in key companies like Peugeot.

10.British politicians can wash their hands of quality well paid jobs and claim that the responsibility lies with the market.

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315