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2008 - Wood Based Panels Industry Conference

Based on Eurostat figures and other calculations, the total number of employees in the EU-27 woodworking industry (including furniture) is estimated at 2.9 million.
In terms of employment the most important countries are Italy, Poland, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Romania, etc.
As part of the overall woodworking industry, the European wood based panels industry is accounting for only a smaller part of the total employment in the sector as it is composed of larger automated production units.
Nevertheless this subsector is playing a key role in the woodworking industries :
- Showing a production value of around 118 billion Euro
- Being an important supplier to the furniture and construction industry
- Having a growing importance in the new Member States (also in terms of employment)
- Showing a positive trade balance (not the case for some other subsectors of the woodworking industry).

However, recent developments, such as a slackening furniture industry and increasing difficulties in the construction sector have shown that there is a need for coherent action as the wood based panels industry will very probably have to undergo a number of structural changes.

These structural changes will involve some challenges :
- technological changes, including the required Vocational Education and Training
- product innovation in order to keep up with market demands
- detecting opportunities outside the traditional sales markets.

Structural changes do not necessarily mean an evolution in the negative sense, for instance in terms of employment. On the contrary, if well accompanied by the social partners at both European and national level, one can seize the opportunity to create more and better employment.

Recent developments in the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee have shown that indeed both European social partners are really committed to jointly seek for commonly agreed ideas, for instance in the field of vocational education and training (life long learning) and of the competitiveness of the European woodworking industry, of which the wood based panels subsector is an important part in terms of production volume.
Both subjects are part of the 2008 work programme of the Sectoral Social Dialogue, and will certainly remain in the work programme in the coming years.

In the framework of this project which was carried out with the financial assistance of the European Commossion a conference was organised gathering some 50 participants (trade union officials and company shop stewards) from nine EU countries where the Wood Based Panels Industry is playing an important role inside the overall woodworking industries. This two and a half day conference was held in Prague from 24 to 27 June 2009.

Through the presentation of the European employers’ organisation CEI-BOIS and the contribution of the European Commission (M. Carlos LOPES), the participants at the conference gathered a much better insight in how the European social dialogue is functioning and how the European social dialogue can also be a stimulus for the social dialogue at national level, including negotiations at both European and national level on an item such as formaldehyde which is of the utmost importance for the European Wood Based Panels Industry and on which currently a European social partner project is running with the financial support of the European Commission, leading eventually to negotiations at sector level;

The employers’ contribution was mainly focusing on the present economic crisis, but also included the opportunities for the sector, for instance in the field of climate change where the sector can play a very important role in the field of innovation and creation of new jobs, including new and innovative competences.

From the workers’ side particular attention was paid to a number of items which are of the utmost importance for the future of the sector and which are present and future items on the agenda of the European social dialogue: the proposal of a European regulation laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market, technological change and product innovation (also to be connected to the Forest Based Industry Technology Platform) and the industrial policy program of the EFBWW which is having an influence on the European social dialogue.

Below please find the conference programme and the presentations of the principal speakers.

Download the Conference programme - English version.

Download Presentation Filip De Jaeger – CEI-BOIS.

Download Presentation Jan Lüdtke – University of Hamburg.

Download Presentation Rolf Gehring - EFBWW.

Download Presentation William Van der Straeten - EFBWW.

Download Presentation Wolfgang Bonneik – IG Metall.



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Open call for tender for the subcontracting of interpreting during the Wood Based Panels Industry Conference: For more details see below:

Download the tender specifications.