POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - INSTITUTIONS

Employers' federations

Challenges for the “rentrée”



Employers’ federations headed by (l.r), Nicolas Henckes, Ernest Pirsch,  Michèle Detaille and Pol Faber   are preparing for the new school year.   (Photos: Maison Moderne; Groupement des entrepreneurs. Collage: Maison Moderne)

Employers’ federations headed by (l.r), Nicolas Henckes, Ernest Pirsch,  Michèle Detaille and Pol Faber are preparing for the new school year.  (Photos: Maison Moderne; Groupement des entrepreneurs. Collage: Maison Moderne)

The ecological transition and supply shortages will keep companies busy this autumn. But covid-19, directly or indirectly and regardless of sector. remains one of the dominant concerns on the back-to-school agenda of employers' federations.

The idea of a CovidCheck in the office is gaining ground among employer federations, but they are also concerted about labour shortages and the cost of the energy transition... Here are the issues for the new school year, sector by sector.

Craft industry

"We are faced with structural challenges: the lack of manpower, productivity and profitability," says Ernest Pirsch, president of the Federation of Craftsmen (FDA). Digitalisation could help, but requires substantial investment. "Added to this are unpredictable elements such as the pandemic, scarcity and the exploding prices of materials and certain components, such as semiconductors." The climate issue is also causing concern.

The new president of the FDA is also keen to watch out for the self-employed. "During the pandemic, it became clear that this segment of the population is really discriminated against in terms of social security and labour law. The professional chambers have submitted proposals to put the self-employed and employees on an equal footing.”

Pirsch wants to "intensify networking" among the FDA’s 3,000 members, who are still affected by the crisis and teleworking. He says he is in favour of CovidCheck in companies. "We are in the funny situation where the employer is responsible for the safety and health of his employees and customers, but is not entitled to know who is vaccinated, tested and recovered," he said.

Industry

The labour shortage is also weighing on industry and is intensifying with the global economic recovery. "In Luxembourg, industry is an exporter," said Michèle Detaille, president of Fedil. The sanitary measures linked to Covid-19 do not help productivity. "Something needs to be put in place, perhaps a simplified CovidCheck," she suggests.

Then there is the shortage of components. "Sourcing has not been well thought out," she says. "This does not mean that everything has to be local. Companies will focus on diversifying.

The Fedil president also fears "the cost of the Green Deal". With the imminent rise in energy prices, "some companies are not sure they can remain competitive with the Chinese, Indians or Americans".

Even if activity has generally resisted the crisis, these difficulties are likely to affect the profitability of Fedil’s close to 700 members.

Construction

In the construction sector, "it is first of all a question of restarting what has been put on hold because of Covid", says Pol Faber, secretary general of the Groupement des entrepreneurs. Overcoming the shortage of building materials is another challenge.

Faber is pleased that there was no cluster during the testing of the return to the sitees and that there is a relaxation of quarantine measures for vaccinated people, which avoids blocking entire teams.

Trade

The impact of the green measures is also a concern for trades. "Our main issue for the autumn will be the law on waste. We see a real disconnection with the practical realities on the ground," says Nicolas Henckes,, outgoing director of the Luxembourg Confederation of Commerce (CLC). "We hope that the ministry will reconsider.”

There will also be "the managemen transition” as Henckes prepares to hand over to Tom Baumert", who will take over the CLC in December.

A deal to have a budget allocated to the sector by the government, has been signed, but “it is the ministry that will announce details”. The hope remains that there will be no new wave this autumn. but Henckes says he is not in favour of introducing a CovidCheck regimes to allow people into shops.