The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Philips Workers Meet to Save Jobs

Multinational corporations, particularly in the electronics industry, continue to automate production and shift jobs to the Third World, where labor is cheaper. Workers in the West, suffering from this reorganization of production, are beginning to meet to discuss the problem and develop a response.

An international conference of Philips employees was held in Holland on June 4-6 to confront these issues. Philips, a Dutch multinational, is the world's fifth largest electric company.

"At Philips in Europe, some 100,000 jobs have disappeared over the last 10 years," said a press release of the conference, which was sponsored by SOBE, a Dutch group researching the world electrical industry. About 70 workers, mostly from Holland, Belgium, Austria, West Germany, the U.K., Italy, and Spain attended the meeting.

Philips' employment policy has hit Dutch and women workers especially hard. Holland's largest private employer, Philips has eliminated 28,000 Dutch jobs over the last decade, SOBE estimates. The company's dismissal strategy discriminates against women workers, said members of the conference. "As a result of the reorganizations of Philips, relatively more women than men have lost employment," the conference press statement said.

The Philips workers presented two ideas to combat "the destruction of employment by Philips." First, workers should demand the "reduction of working hours without effects upon wages." Second, for any strategy to succeed, the conference delegates insisted that worldwide coordinated action by the unions was crucial. "Dealing with workers' problems at Philips can only be effective by international trade union actions," the delegates said, urging the European Metalworkers Federation to take the initiative.

"The conference was very successful," Wim Baltussen of SOBE told Multinational Monitor. "Many contacts were made, and much information was exchanged."

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