The case of Renault Vilvoorde four years later

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Michel de VIRVILLE

General Secretary and Managing Director of Human Resources, Renault

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President of the board of directors, Bernard Brunhes Consultants

Seminar Social life | Thursday November 8, 2001

In February 1997, Renault announced the closure of its site at Vilvoorde, Belgium, in order to rationalise its production in Europe. There was amazement and anger in Belgium where Michel de Virville had a rough reception. Demonstrations took place in Brussels in March and April. At the request of the Renault board of directors, Danielle Kaisergruber was appointed to study an alternative solution to the closure of Vilvoorde, namely a reduction in the number of working hours throughout the entire group in Europe. However, the dissolution of the French National Assembly led to an unexpected political change in power : would the Belgians bank on this event in order to call into question the negotiations for the planned redundancy scheme which were already under way ? A vote was called and 97% of the Belgians were in favour of continuing negotiations. The Belgians and the French have very different points of reference in social relations and the role of politics : this did not make it any easier for them to understand each other's position from the outset…

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This session was published in issue n°34 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled La négociation sociale.

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