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Philips unions go global

25 November, 2011Unions representing Philips workers decide to form a global network to work on labour issues in the company and its suppliers

NETHERLANDS: On November 23 and 24 representatives from unions present in Philips and supplier companies met in the home country of Philips to discuss how to strengthen cooperation between themselves and to build a global trade union network. Hosted by FNV, as the home country union, and IMF, the meeting focused on concrete actions that could be taken by unions to ensure a continuing and sustainable exchange of information between the different trade unions on issues of concern to Philips workers.

Delegates from France, Belgium, Netherlands, Brazil, Philippines, Germany, Romania and Singapore shared information on the many issues facing Philips workers worldwide and discussed the role a trade union network could play in building trade union strength to confront them. A major issue that will continue to impact on workers for a considerable period is the gradual shift of production from incandescent lighting to LEDs. While the shift is inevitable, the speed and scale with which it will move is unpredictable so workers in Philips Lighting face a particularly uncertain future. Information from the Philips website which was prepared for investors but has not been discussed with trade unions shows that the company intends to reduce the number of Philips Lighting plants from 70 in 2011 to only 46 in 2015. Elsewhere in Philips outsourcing and divestments continue apace.

The meeting determined a number of initial objectives for the development of the network which start with establishing contacts with all unions present in Philips and starting an exchange of information. A description of the network's aims will be developed and circulated widely within Philips. The meeting also discussed activities that could be conducted jointly once the network is more firmly established. These should include a focus on organizing the unorganized.