In a letter to its employees, Signify, the former Philips light division, asks them to hand in twenty per cent of their wages in the coming months. Signify has some 32,000 employees worldwide.
The proposal raises some eyebrows because Signify is a healthy company that is financially sound. For example, in 2019 the company had a turnover of €6.2 billion. In 2019, the company made a profit of €529 million.
Jorg Sauer of trade union VHP2 was also surprised by the proposal. “It’s a proposal made by Signify’s global communication”, Sauer says. “Normally we are also involved in such proposals, before they are made. That hasn’t happened now”.
“It’s also a strange decision, because large companies that miss out on turnover can reach an arrangement with the Dutch government”, Sauer says. “To take the opportunity to ask employees to voluntarily hand in wages is therefore very misplaced”.
In a personal comment to our editor Signify later added: “The idea is that since there is less work, employees work less. That’s why we also ask them to hand in part of their wages”. In addition, the spokesperson emphasises that this is not the only measure Signify is taking to get through the corona crisis. “Top executives also turn in wages, bonuses are postponed and dividends – the profit distribution to shareholders – are not paid out either”.
Furthermore, the spokesperson announced that the request to hand over wages was made by the global organisation. This demand does not take into account regional and national initiatives that are being set up to help large companies. “The possibilities offered by the Dutch cabinet have yet to be explored. We are not yet sure whether Signify can appeal to them”.
It is not yet clear whether the company will withdraw the request for a wage sacrifice from its employees, if the Dutch government’s aid schemes can be claimed.
Translated by: Bob