Several branches of the construction sector have been declared in "crisis"

The OGBL supports the government’s decision, but points out that preserving jobs is not just a matter of short-time work

On January 25, 2024, the government announced that several branches of the construction sector would be declared to be in crisis. This announcement applies to construction companies whose main activity is “construction of residential and non-residential buildings” (14,000 workers) or “demolition and site preparation” (1,400 workers). In order to cope with the difficulties they are facing, the companies concerned will be able to apply short-time work between February 1 and the summer of 2024. The measure adopted by the government provides for short-time work for a maximum of 20% of the workforce per company.

The OGBL supports the government’s decision. It guarantees that the workers concerned will remain employed, at least in the short term.

However, the OGBL insists on the importance of ensuring that there is no abuse by certain companies and that short-time work – financed by taxpayers’ money (!) – only benefits those companies that are facing real difficulties due to the slowdown in activity in the sector.

Ensuring that public money is not wasted remains a constant concern in the OGBL’s approach. This is also one of the reasons why the OGBL has always favored the negotiation of individual job protection plans (plan de maintien dans l’emploi – PME) with companies in difficulty. Such PME make it possible to find, situation by situation, the most appropriate measures: short-time work, if necessary, but also loan of workforce, early retirement, etc. The OGBL has concluded and continues to negotiate such PMEs in the sector.

The OGBL recalls that it can only accept a job protection plan for the construction sector on the express condition that it is not limited exclusively to the possibility offered to all companies of applying short-time work. In addition to the negotiation of a global sectoral agreement on working conditions, the OGBL demands that this sectoral PME should also provide for the possibility of using all the measures offered by the legislation and not only short-time work.

Finally, the OGBL would like to draw attention to one of the main causes of the “crisis” currently affecting certain branches of the construction sector. This is related to the housing crisis in Luxembourg. In addition to the exorbitant housing prices that the country has been experiencing for several years, interest rates have recently risen spectacularly, making it very difficult for ordinary people to buy a home and slowing down activity in certain construction branches mechanically. At the same time, the limited access to home ownership has led to strong pressure on rental properties, resulting in exploding rents.

In this context, the OGBL calls on the government to take ambitious measures in the area of access to housing, in the interest of both households and the recovery of the construction sector, as well as the preservation of jobs.

Press release of the OGBL Building Syndicate, January 25, 2024