A proposal to grant Belgium €1,824,041 in EU aid to help find new jobs for 488 workers made redundant by construction machinery manufacturers in Wallonia was approved by MEPs on Thursday. A further 300 young unemployed people should also benefit from the aid, to come from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).
The 488 employees were made redundant by several construction machinery manufacturers in the province of Hainaut (Wallonia, Belgium): Caterpillar Belgium, Carwall S.A. (a principal supplier of cabs for Caterpillar Belgium) and Doosan S.A. The resolution was approved by 534 votes to 45, with 7 abstentions.
The job losses were the result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, which has led to a decline in competitiveness and the delocalisation of substantial production capacity to non-EU countries.
Belgium also included 300 young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the plans. The measures, co-financed by the EGF and the Belgian government, would help the workers and NEETs to find new jobs by providing them with occupational guidance, vocational training, entrepreneurship counselling services, contributions to business start-ups and a variety of allowances.
The impact of these redundancies on the local and regional economy and employment is expected to be significant. According to the European Commission, the whole manufacturing sector has been downscaling production in Wallonia, with 1,236 job losses in 2013 and 1,878 job losses in 2014. Hainaut has been facing a difficult labour market situation with an employment rate below the national average.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund contributes to packages of tailor-made services to help redundant workers find new jobs. Its annual ceiling is €150 million.