SKF workers’ representatives from all around the world gathered in Frankfurt, Germany, at their annual meeting of the World Union Committee from 29 September to 1 October to discuss how to intensify their cooperation in challenging times of the weak world economy.
Fifty delegates and observers represented some 50,000 workers employed by SKF, a 100-year-old multinational present in 32 countries, which specializes in the production of bearings, seals, lubrication systems and other technological products.
Despite decent performance in the past, the group is undergoing structural changes resulting in numerous consequences for the workforce, including job losses, especially among white-collar workers.
SKF CEO, Alrik Danielson, who attended the meeting, stressed upon the need for cooperation with workers and their unions. However, SKF workers around the world remain under pressure. A possible answer could be an even more flexible approach within the framework of national legislation and respect of the existing collective bargaining agreements, and here the World Union Council (WUC), national unions and their representatives are working together with the management.
On the other hand, delegates underlined that workers cannot be held hostages for the mistakes made by the management in the past or a weak global economy. Workers and their families alone cannot carry the entire burden.
The meeting was held in the atmosphere of openness and willingness to cooperate for the sake of both workers and the company. It was underlined however that this is not a one-way street. Giving and taking must be in balance and everybody has to carry a fair share.
Management representatives made presentations about SKF group’s situation and strategies for the future. Delegates from different countries had an intensive exchange of internal information and discussed the possible consequences of the change in group strategy.
Delegates also discussed the similarities and differences in flexibility systems especially regarding working time. Another issue was the fight for decent work and elimination of precarious working conditions all over the world.
On behalf of the host union IG Metall, Jörg Hofmann, IG Metall vice president, welcomed the SKF WUC in Frankfurt.
WUC delegates also visited the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, one of the SKF´s major customers in the region.