The general management of the Danone group has confirmed that it is suspending its plan to close the Györi Keksz factory in Györ Hungary. The company has agreed to enter into discussions on the future of the plant with the trade union representing plant workers and the national federation of foodworkers’ unions EDOSZ. The closure would have resulted in the suppression of 657 jobs by 2003. Danone acquired the plant relatively recently (in November 2000) as part of its acquisition of United Biscuits factories in a number of countries.

Since March 29, when management of the French food group announced in Geneva its plan to restructure the biscuits sector, IUF-affiliated unions in Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (the countries affected by the planned restructuring) have built a movement of solidarity to develop a coordinated response adapted to the specific situation and the expressed needs of affected employees.

The international agreement signed in May 1997 by the IUF and the Danone group provides for a period of at least three months of consultation and the development of trade union counter-proposals following the announcement of restructuring proposals with employment implications.

The IUF and its Hungarian affiliate EDOSZ are using  this period to prepare proposals to follow-up Danone’s decision to suspend the closure plan.
“We are pleased with this first step and with Danone’s reconsideration based on discussions with the local union and EDOSZ”, declared IUF general secretary Ron Oswald.” The IUF recognizes the willingness on the part of Danone to take into consideration a wide range of social issues, a willingness in line with its general social policy, and therefore to reopen discussions on the future of the Györ plant. The IUF, in co-operation with its affiliate in Hungary, will engage in continuing discussions with the Danone group to ensure, in the terms used by the group’s director of human resources, ‘the development of a project for the future of the enterprise’. The situation within Danone remains serious for the hundreds of workers affected by the proposed restructuring plan. The IUF’s mandate remains the protection of those workers. Negotiations with Danone backed up by serious and concrete trade union work represent by far the most effective way to fulfil that mandate.

“The IUF will continue to support and to co-ordinate the actions of its affiliates at European sites affected by the announcement of Danone’s plan.”

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) is an international trade union federation composed of 337 trade unions in 118 countries with an affiliated membership of 2.5 million members. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland