EU job-search aid for retail workers laid off in Finland and Greece approved
- Greece: 725 former workers from nine retail businesses in 11 regions will benefit
- Finland: support for 1,500 redundant employees of three companies
- EU funds cover start-up contributions, vocational training and placement subsidies
Financial aid worth €5.4 million to help a total of 2,225 redundant Finnish and Greek workers find new jobs was approved on Thursday.
The workers concerned had all been employed in supermarkets or retail shops, selling household appliances or food. Due to the economic crisis, the retailers suffered from the reduced purchasing power of Greek households between 2008 and 2015. According to the Greek National Bank, retail sales fell by up to 60% in parts of the sector. Across the country, 11 regions, including Crete and Central Greece, are affected by the redundancies.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid will cover 60% of the total cost. Of the people affected, 85.2% are over the age of 55, at which it may become more difficult to find a new job.
The aid for Greece, worth €2,949,150 was approved by 565 votes to 71, with 11 abstentions.
Due to increased online sales and the growing popularity of non-EU web-shops, Anttila and Stockmann, two Finnish department store chains, as well as the subsidiary Vallila Collection, suffered falling sales from 2014. A total of 1,660 employees had to be laid off, with Anttila and Vallila Collection having to shut down completely.
Overall, the decline in profitability was caused by a shift to online shopping, which increased by 34% between 2010 and 2015. Furthermore, in 2016, 19% of all sales went through non-European online retailers, up from only 6% in 2008.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) money will help fund measures taken by the Finnish authorities. As many of these workers are over 55 and so might lack the new skills needed to access the job market, such as IT or data analysis, specifically tailored career coaching will be provided.
The aid for Finland, worth €2,499,360, was approved by 555 votes to 77, with 12 abstentions.
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.
Redundant workers are offered measures such as support for business start-ups, job-search assistance, occupational guidance and various kinds of training. In most cases, national authorities have already started the measures and will have their costs reimbursed by the EU when their applications are finally approved.
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