Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation

Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman

This detailed, comprehensive study on downsizing in Europe is underpinned by cross-national, interdisciplinary empirical research on restructuring management in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It contains systematic national comparative overviews, and transversal analyses of more than 30 in-depth case studies, taking into account a broad range of perspectives across professional human resources managers, unions’ representatives, local and national civil servants, social workers and physicians. The authors examine strategic choices and practices in national and local contexts, showing that the practice of restructuring is not as heterogeneous as many previous studies have indicated or predicted. Systematic policy proposals for better economic and social management of restructuring are also prescribed.

Chapter 4: Belgium: A Corporatist Regime

Frédéric Naedenoen

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, economics and finance, labour economics

Extract

Frédéric Naedenoen INTRODUCTION Context The current Belgian system1 is the result of five successive reforms that have established increasing levels of independence at both community and regional levels. The three Communities (French, Flemish and Germanspeaking) correspond to groups within the population, which share the same language and culture, whereas the three regions (Wallonia, Brussels Capital and Flanders) are the result of the desire of particular linguistic groups (both Walloon and Flemish) for greater economic independence. The economic situation of the three regions differs sharply (with Flanders performing better than Brussels Capital and Wallonia), and, consequently, so do their unemployment rates2 (which stand at 7.71%, 21.29% and 19.6 % respectively). The management of restructuring in Belgium is made more complex because issues relating to employment are dealt with at two levels, the federal and the regional. Moreover, there is often federal involvement in matters which generally fall under regional jurisdiction: an important example of this is the collapse of the Belgian airline company Sabena. The Belgian Federal Government acted as a substitute for the failing business in terms of its obligations to compensate its employees, thereby exceeding the role of the federal state as defined in legislation.3 In this instance, the Belgian Federal Government set out a restructuring programme for all of the airline’s workers, whereas the Belgian constitution accords this type of jurisdiction to the regions (the three regions in this particular case). Evolution In Belgium the first applicable principle is the freedom of a company...

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