European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

Thousands of jobs at risk in bitter sugar crisis

29/10/2015

Brussels, 29 October 2015 - During a social dialogue meeting this week, EFFAT and CEFS adopted a joint demand for a fund to mitigate the social impact of the crisis in the sugar industry.

Previous high supply, the lack of a level playing field with third countries such as India, Brazil and Thailand, and plummeting prices are all threatening the sector and putting thousands of jobs at risks. The current situation, compounded by the EU decision to end quotas in 2017, will bring about serious social consequences that EU institutions must address expeditiously.

Against this backdrop, EFFAT and CEFS call for the establishment of a fund to support sugar operators who have already made substantial efforts and expended considerable resources to adapt to a changing market. The fund would help to:

  • soften the impact of further restructuring processes and compensate beet growers and machinery contractors for losses due to closures and falls in investment value. The sugar sector is in fact exceptionally capital-intensive and requires specialised machinery;
  • offer workers opportunities to develop transferable skills thus improving their employability and promoting job mobility; 
  • provide adequate training, a crucial element in tackling restructuring processes;
  • support alternatives to sugar and beet crops, thus stabilising revenues in rural areas.

The sugar sector has and continues to contribute substantially to the EU budget. EU sugar producers pay a fixed sum of 12 per tonne of sugar produced. Last year this amounted to €162.6 million [1] paid directly into the EU Budget. Meanwhile, the Commission adopted exceptional measures including import tenders and out-of-quota sugar to supply the EU market. These measures fattened the EU Budget by an additional €453 million.

In a time of deep market crisis, CEFS and EFFAT highlight the importance of using the funds collected from the sector itself to support it, its workforce and the employment it generates. The two organisations stand united in calling on EU institutions to tackle the consequences of the new reform.


[1] Data from the balance sheet submitted to an expert group on 25 June 2015.

 

 

About CEFS

Founded in 1953, CEFS represents European beet sugar manufacturers and cane sugar refiners, covering sugar production in 21 EU countries plus Switzerland.

About EFFAT

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.

For more information:

CEFS
Oscar Ruiz
Deputy Director General
oscar.ruiz@cefs.org

EFFAT
Estelle Brentnall
Food Political Secretary
e.brentnall@effat.org

 

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.