ongoing union strike at Agfa for a week now

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by AgX, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Since Friday last week there is strike action by workers of Agfa-Materials (the chemical part of the campany).

    Recently there had been job cuts world wide at Agfa. The cause for that strike though is rather a decrease and stop of automatism of the so-called bridge-pension for flemish workers who leave the plants before their pension-proper.

    Due to that strike all workers received a letter from Materials explaining the decrease in interest for film produducts and Agfa's countermeasure to have moved their interest to to digital products meanwhile and for Materials to gather as much market share (including from competitors) as possible to slow down the decrease in production.
    The workers are addressed to stabilize the gained equilibrium by tolerating cuts in their income/pernsion. Furthermore Agfa would not have any interest at the moment in allowing someone to go into bridge-pension. And any strike action wou´ld endanger the gained market share.

    Yesterday action evolved into blocking the plants. The management reacted by advising all employees to go home for that day and the next. Servants are said to have joined the strike.
    (The flemish part in contrast to the german one has a history of strike sction.)
     
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  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks for that. A lot of companies in possibly much better financial shape than Agfa-Materials have made similar cuts in pension terms. In the U.K. the number of companies offering what is know as final salary pension schemes has decreased drastically since 2000.

    I hope it is resolved but I fear that the workers will not be able to "hold back the tide" as the saying goes

    pentaxuser
     
  3. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Sorry to hear about the strike, I hope Agfa can pull throw.

    Jeff
     
  4. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Either way, not an easy situation and one where empathy falls to both sides.

    It does make me wonder how many of the striking employees use for creative purposes the materials they produce. I think they'd be more sympathetic if they did use them and had an interest in the larger picture, but who knows. So many circumstances.

    I hope it gets worked out quickly and everyone comes out the better.
     
  5. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Agfa is moving to digital at full speed and they just try to milk the cow as long as it gets before closing their ugly non digital side of the business. It should also be said that the CEO could lower his salary won't happen though.
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    An interesting point. It would only make sense though if there would be an incentive at Agfa to actually create new markets for halide materials instead of picking shares of existing markets.

    At the photo/cine clubs of Agfa film has vanished. The cinema at the Agfa plant, only a few meters off where cine print film is made, has got a digital projector.
     
  7. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    So what are the analog products that Agfa still makes?
    Are they tied in with Rollei, Adox at all?

    What is at stake here?
     
  8. pstake

    pstake Member

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  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The board of directors díd get their income reduced during the latest recession.

    The CEO who had been responsible for the mysterious sale of their consumer department (that went bancrupt short after) and who stated to the press that he had no idea what made former employees who lost their jobs by that bancruptcy think they had any claims against Agfa (claims later confirmed by highest court) left that position with a huge gratifications of 1/4 what the current reduction are to save annually.
    He made it into the papers again lately by retaining highly paid boards of directors seats next to his new CEO function. He replied he does not do it for the money.
     
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  10. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Wow. No wonder there is a strike. What a crooked a$#hole.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Agfa is one of the largest manufacturers of halide materials, for industrial, medical and entertainment markets, partially being market leader. Also for non-halide imaging material and foils and membranes and inks. All these are primarily at stake with this strike.

    But the larger revenue Agfa makes with digital imaging machinery (X-ray apparatus and ink-jet printing apparatus) and IT technologies.



    Agfa, once founded as manufacturer of expendables (fine chemicals, later photographic materials) did made the step over to machinery and software.
    In order to gain a constant revenue beyond the point in time markets will be saturated, they will have to make these expendables too by having them declared obsolete and to be substituted by new machines and software.


    In spite of all criticism: seen in the context of the competitors Agfa looks quite good economically.
    Seemingly just due to their rejection of the consumer market and the establishing of new technologies in the non-consumer markets.
     
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  12. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    That sounds an awful lot like Fujifilm.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The strike is continuing. Meanwhile it is the longest one at Agfa for decades.
    The situation is worsening. More employees are said to have joined. The strikers have meanwhile locked the ports with chains.
    As result the management requested the bailiff to enforce access for those still willing to work.
    Police showed up with watercanons, but retreated after mediation of the mayor. The management cancelled the order to the bailiff.
    This noon there will be a new meeting between unions and management on neutral ground.
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    strike has ended

    After gathering for 12 hours late at night a appeasement has been achieved.
    Work will start again tomorrow.
     
  16. iulian

    iulian Member

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    Hopefully Retro 80s will be back in stock at the German outlets (120 format, that is). I have to re-stock for spring-summer :D
     
  17. Ikon

    Ikon Member

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    Gevaert, before the union with Agfa after WWII, was an increadibly progressive company in terms of social services. Not so difficult: year after year, the company was able to incraese its profits. As a reward, the employees were allowed to get early retirement (after 20 years of night shift, total career of 33 yeas: this means retirement at 51, a part payed by the government, another by the company).
    Today, the profits have gone. The employees, luckily, are still there (3000 on the Mortsel-Flanders plant). They have striked for 12 days to maintain their right to early retirement, and they have won. The employment is assured by the company direction until 2016.
    So, don't worry, our precious Rollei retro 80S, retro 400S (former Aviphot films) will stay available - until 2016. I fear that, after that date, no more film will be produced, because this company is doomed to disseapear. In the economical situation now, no company can afford it to send 51-year old people to pension when the legal age is 65.
     
  18. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The strikers even refered to Lieven Gevaert, whom they believe as patronizing CEO to have handled the matter differently. They even made him sympatizer of their cause by attaching their bandana to the Lieven statue.
     
  19. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Just looking up Agfa-Gevaert, 11,728 employees.

    Let's say the CEO has something massive like $10 million annually. If the CEO cut their own earnings in half and all of that went to employees, it'd be worth and additional $426.33 to them, per year.

    A typical healthy company has 10% of it's revenue as profits, and ~40% of it's expenses as wages.
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

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    All the major players of that industry experienced an incredible growth (smaller companies surrendered though) in that period.

    But there also was the silver-crisis, which nearly broke Gevaert the neck. (Gevaert proper got paid out of that marriage by means of Bayer-shares and left the photochemical sector for good).
    And short after it was decided at Agfa than one cannot run a cameraworks on deficits for many years just to sell film for those cameras. So a complete plant was closed with thousands of people loosing their job.

    So, there had been dark clouds even in prosperous times.
     
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  21. Ikon

    Ikon Member

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    That's right. But: Gevaert bears the costs of a huge retirement fund since years, caused by the retirement conditions that are considered as a given right to the employees. But infact, these conditions are the product of a kind of agreement between employer and employee (syndicat) that is negotiated regulary (this is called a 'CAO' or collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst, some kind of social agreement). The continuous threat for strikes during such negotiations is the major cause for the fact that the company didn't change the retirement conditions in all these years. Today, the continuation of that system has become a danger for the future of the company and for the guarantee of employment for the yonger generation.
    The possibly huge wages of a CEO are hardly a counterweight for the impact of this retirement fund.
     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    You are right on the pension costs. In the past these were to be paid by profits from that division. In times of severely shrinking markets research into new products would be the way to go. With Agfa seemingly steering off from material sciences and hardly funding research into new materials there will be problem. The other divisions who themselves need a lot of funds to establish their new products will have to take those costs too.

    If I remember well pension costs were a constant topic in company statements since the AgfaPhoto case.


    There seem to be basically two attitudes: that in bad times both, owners/investors and employees have to give in and that even in bad times the employees must hold their level.

    One can assume though that investors have more cushion in their private lives to take in than employees.
     
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  23. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    One could assume investors have more cushion than employees. But assumptions are not necessarily fact.

    Often the "investors" at least in this country, are other pension plans trying to make money for their people, or individuals, who in this country have what is known as a 401k.

    My company, based in Germany, ended our pension plan, here in the US a few years ago. Now we only have 401K plans, which they contribute some many to.

    If the stock in the plan for a company goes worthless, then my savings decrease.

    We need to realize that we are all in this together. If the company fails, nobody wins. Not the investors, not the employees, not the retired people.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  24. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    A common perception based on drinking the Kool-Aid. If you've got your 401k contributions in stock, they're not "savings." They're a crap-shoot. Just like any non-401k stock investment. Anyone interested in "savings" will elect the Stable Value Fund option. Not sexy, not high-return, just slow-and-steady growth. Unfortunately, many employers only make matching contributions in company stock. A really, really bad thing. As soon as the plan allowed it, all mine acquired that way was immediately transferred to the Stable Value Fund.

    As a nation, we have become spoiled children who want more than can reasonably be expected. I don't see it changing anytime soon. Oh for the days of 5.25% passbook savings accounts and loans at a reasonable spread above that.
     
  25. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Thread noted, opinion withheld. You're welcome.:D
     
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  26. Arctic amateur

    Arctic amateur Member

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    Looking at their film products I notice that they seem to have several colour products with near-infrared sensitivity (if I read the sensitivity curves correctly). I'm surprised those products aren't also repackaged for consumer use, like the BW infrared films. Or would the filtration needed make the result tonally indistinguishable from the BW films?

    Copy films:
    http://agfa.com/sp/global/en/binaries/AVITONE CP70_tcm611-42598.pdf
    http://agfa.com/sp/global/en/binaries/AVITONE CP94_tcm611-42599.pdf
    Motion picture print film:
    http://agfa.com/sp/global/en/binaries/CP30 technical datasheet_Oct 11_tcm611-36871.pdf
    In addition there's both colour and B&W paper.