Press release, 6 November 2012

Eurofound launches its 2012 Report from the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM): After restructuring: labour markets, working conditions and life satisfaction

New EU-wide restructuring report reveals wide variations in consequences across country, sector, employees

(Dublin, Ireland) High levels of restructuring activities across the European Union have resulted in five million fewer jobs in 2012 compared to 2008, according to the 2012 report from the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM). With just over a third (37%) of EU27 employees reporting that restructuring occurred at their workplace in the previous three years, the report also looks at the consequences of restructuring for the individual employee. The report, which is a unique source of EU-wide information on reported restructuring developments, is launched at the European Parliament today, aimed at contributing to discussions on the future of the European Globalisation Fund.

At a macro level, the report shows that while announced job loss from restructuring has fallen from the high levels experienced at the start of the economic crisis, overall there are still more cases of announced job loss than job gain reported in the European Restructuring Monitor (ERM). The consequences however, have varied hugely across Member States, with Ireland shedding a significant 16% of its pre-recession employment, Luxembourg adding a similar percentage of new jobs and larger countries such as Austria, Poland and Germany, employment actually showing modest growth since 2008.

Employment in the manufacturing sector suffered the largest job loss accounting for nearly four million jobs, while three million jobs were lost in the construction sector between 2008 and 2012 Change in employment levels in these sectors showed a -17.3% decrease in the construction sector and a 10.6% decline in manufacturing, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing (-5.9%) and wholesale and retail (-3.8%). The main employment-shedding subsectors within manufacturing were textiles, mainly in Italy and Poland; in basic metals, mainly in the UK and Spain; and wood/paper production mainly Spain and France. The pharmaceutical sector was the only manufacturing subsector to grow.

The report also provides a comprehensive analysis of the consequences of restructuring for the individual employee. It focuses specifically on which employees lost their job at the onset of the crisis, which of them found a new job and the implications of this for their life satisfaction, and what effects restructuring have on people that remain in their jobs. It found that having long tenure protects against job loss, but long-tenured workers who lose their job are less likely to find a new one.

‘One significant finding is that those who are most at risk of losing a job are those who have the least chance of finding a new one. These tend to be people with serious health problems, from a minority group and of lower professional status,’ says Donald Storrie, Eurofound’s expert on restructuring. ‘As restructuring hits already vulnerable groups in these two respects, it suggests that policy efforts should focus more on how to protect these employees during restructuring and target them for more intensive labour market policy measures.’

According to the report, the ‘stayers’ - those who remain in jobs- are most likely to be in higher occupational groups and working in larger establishments, as well as employees working in traditionally state-funded sectors. In addition, the research reveals that restructured workplaces are more likely to offer higher levels of employee autonomy, more access to training, a higher incidence of teamwork, and employees having greater influence and involvement in how work is organised - the hallmarks of high performance work systems.

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, media manager, on email: mma@eurofound.europa.eu, telephone: +353-1-2043124, or mobile: +353-876-593 507

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

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