The shortage of manpower in the craft sector is not inevitable – it has been produced by the employers

For several weeks, or even months, employers’ representatives from the building and craft sector have been complaining in public about a lack of manpower in various branches of the craft sector.

However, for many years now, the OGBL’s Building, Craft and Metal Construction syndicate has been warning these same players about the risk that such a labor shortage poses for a large majority of companies.

In some segments of the craft sector, the need for personnel is enormous. Retirements over the next few years and the sustained economic activity experienced by a large part of the craft sector will only aggravate this situation, which is currently one of the greatest factors of uncertainty for companies.

However, the OGBL would also like to emphasize that this labour shortage is not inevitable.

The shortage of labor and the lack of attractiveness of various sectors are the direct result of a counterproductive and incomprehensible policy on the part of employers, which consists of preventing any serious discussion of the upgrading of the professions in question, which would involve a real improvement in working conditions and remuneration.

The refusal of some employers’ federations to enter into such negotiations with the unions and their relentless fight against any improvement have even led to more and more employees simply turning their backs on these sectors. The lack of manpower is now threatening the very survival of a large number of companies operating in a promising sector of the Luxembourg economy, such as the craft sector.

More and more young people are aware of the working conditions and remuneration in the different sectors and are opting for other professions during their school course. This is evidenced by the small number of apprentices graduating each year from the school system compared to the need in these sectors.

In order to restore the image of these professions, it is imperative, according to the OGBL, to make these sectors more attractive through strong collective agreements that guarantee attractive salaries and good working conditions.

However, against all logic and in defiance of common sense, the various employers’ representatives are constantly attacking the working conditions of employees, demanding at every turn an increase in working hours and greater flexibility, while at the same time refusing a serious revaluation of wages.

While some ministers have recently ventured to publicly raise the possibility of a revision of existing working time models with a view to making working time more flexible, the OGBL wishes to warn the government of the repercussions that such deterioration of working conditions would have for the tens of thousands of employees in these sectors.

Such measures would only worsen the labor shortage in the craft sector and would constitute a major risk for this sector in the coming years.

The OGBL therefore reiterates its appeal to the various employers’ federations to review their position on the measures to be taken to make the craft sector more attractive again. They must finally agree to negotiate collective agreements aimed at improving the working conditions and wages of the tens of thousands of employees concerned. Such collective agreements would also constitute an important lever to attract future employees in these sectors which are in great need of them.

Press release by the OGBL’s building, craft sector and metal construction syndicate
February 15, 2023