The LCGB trade union has announced that the figures for April 2020 look bleak: already more than 20,000 people are unemployed and the unemployment rate has increased 31.1% over one year; however, without partial unemployment this overview would be much more disastrous.
Over the past few weeks, more than 300,000 wages have been guaranteed by this vital measure to maintain purchasing power and prevent a flood of unemployed workers onto the labour market.
The LCGB has appealed to the Government "to honour its declaration" that the fight against unemployment is the major priority and to act today to find solutions for tomorrow. The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been brought under control, and not only the economy and employment, but also the state budget and social security system are paying a heavy price.
This health crisis has notably highlighted the importance of an efficient social system and a society based on the principles of solidarity. Today, it is more crucial than ever to strengthen the safeguarding of the lives of employees, purchasing power and jobs. In order to limit the damage of this crisis and to avoid an intensification of any social injustice, the LCGB has requested the Government to find united and constructive solutions together with the social partners (trade unions).
Unemployment and partial unemployment
If the LCGB welcomes the continued widespread application of short-time working across all economic sectors until the end of 2020, it has also called for a general improvement in the unemployment benefit and the short-time working allowance by guaranteeing that the amount corresponds throughout the period of compensation to 90% of the last remuneration with the upper limit the contributory ceiling (5 times the minimum social wage).
Partial unemployment: Guaranteed minimum threshold
The LCGB welcomed that the partial unemployment linked to COVID-19 guarantees the payment of a minimum gross indemnity equivalent to the minimum unskilled social wage. For the LCGB, this new minimum compensation threshold must not only be extended until the end of the year, but must be enshrined in law in order to allow its application beyond the state of crisis.
Minimum social wage
The LCGB has been campaigning for many years for a substantial increase in the minimum social wage, as beneficiaries find it difficult to make ends meet from month to month. The LCGB has requested the Government to review the general minimum social wage.
For the LCGB, it is incomprehensible that the Government, which declares that the situation on the labour market will worsen over the next few weeks, allows companies benefiting from aid or partial unemployment measures to dismiss 25% of their staff. The LCGB does not accept any dismissals in this context and calls for measures to maintain jobs.
Work organisation - 60 hours / week
With an increasing number of job seekers, the LCGB has called for the immediate withdrawal of the temporary extension of daily working hours to 12 hours (60 weekly hours) in order to encourage the hiring of more unemployed people.
The LCGB has reiterated its demand for the creation of structures for the management of overstaffing comparable to the reclassification cell (CDR) of the steel industry in other economic sectors hit hard by the current health crisis in order to allow a supervision of people victims of layoffs.
Social plans and bankruptcies
Knowing that the risk of possible social plans or bankruptcies are multiplying, the LCGB has recalled its demand for a strengthening of the rights of employees, including in particular the opening of the right to unemployment benefits from the day of bankruptcy. It has claimed that an adaptation of the legal framework is essential to safeguard the existence of the employees of companies in bankruptcy or implementing a social plan.
True right to continuing education
To ease the growing number of unemployed persons, the LCGB has demanded the immediate introduction of a real right to continuous training, so that the unemployed are able to acquire the new skills necessary to allow their reintegration into the labor market or to reorient themselves towards another profession less affected by the effects of the health crisis.
Combating long-term unemployment
The recent extraordinary rise in unemployment is also accompanied by a high rate of long-term unemployed (> 12 months). The LCGB has argued for the extension of the duration of compensation to 24 months with specific training for the unemployed during his/her job search, the right of the job seeker to an integration measure at the end of the period as well as a reduction in the minimum weekly working time to 10 hours to give entitlement to unemployment benefit.
The LCGB has also argued in favour of the creation of a progressive retirement right from the age of 57 by allowing the employee to be partially retired and partially still active on the job market, which also allows the transmission of knowledge - while ensuring a longer presence of employees on the job market.
As for re-employment assistance, which could prove to be an important instrument in the coming months, the LCGB has argued for the abolition of all age conditions, a right to assistance without distinction between a CDI and a CDD, and without condition of minimum duration of the employment contract as well as a legal guarantee of a non-conditioned right to re-employment assistance for 48 months.
Social security and fiscal policy
As regards the management and financing of sickness and maternity insurance, the LCGB has demanded unequivocal commitments from employers in favour of tripartite financing of Luxembourg social security as well as alternative and complementary sources of financing in the context of digitisation. The LCGB has also recalled that tax policy plays an important role in preventing this crisis from creating more social inequalities and demanding a tax policy in favour of households. The repercussions of the economic crisis cannot be done on the backs of the employees and the LCGB thus opposes any increase in the tax burden or even the introduction of a specific tax linked to the crisis.