WEST Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre and her Conservative colleagues have vowed to carry on fighting legislation on redundancy procedures which, they say, would “make life impossible” for businesses needing to restructure their operations.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, said her group would go on opposing the proposed legislation, even though it was approved at committee level, with members of the European People's Party joining Liberal Democrats and Socialists to push through “damaging compromise clauses”.
According to the proposals the legislation would become applicable if restructuring operations would affect at least 100 employees in a single company or 500 employees in a company and its dependent companies in one or more member states over a period of three months.
As “dependent companies” could include any subcontractor and supplier the proposal would lead to “a very high degree of legal uncertainty for any employer in Europe” said Miss McIntyre.
The proposals specify that the restructuring company would be obliged to give an early explanation and justification to “all relevant stakeholders”. It would then be obliged to follow a checklist of alternatives which would have to be considered before a restructuring would take place.
The employer would also be made responsible for retraining redundant employees for employment with new jobs with other employers.
One compromise clause insisted that "relevant measures should be taken several months prior to the proposed restructuring" and should "include the prompt provision of retraining courses".
Another said affected staff must be given help in job-hunting, including paid time off to search for jobs, and that there must be "monitoring, surveillance and counselling aimed to avoid or minimise the negative impact of the restructuring process on both the physical and psycho-social well-being of both redundant workers, if any, and those staying".
Miss McIntyre said the UK's Conservative MEPs, “unlike Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs”, would “fight tooth and nail” against the new rules, proposed by Spanish Socialist MEP Alejandro Cercas.
She explained: "There's no reflection here of the realities of running a business, especially in these challenging times. They want people to plan months and years ahead for restructuring when, often, it has to done on an emergency basis to keep a business afloat.
"They want to add to the cost of restructuring when often every penny of the savings is needed to ensure viability of the company and protect the jobs of the remaining workforce long term. It places unacceptable demands on companies facing troubled times and it makes it more likely that struggling companies will fail.
"That helps nobody - not the owners or shareholders, not the managers and certainly not the workforce."