In many countries where the Group operates, Group employees are protected by various laws and/or collective labor agreements that guarantee them, through local and national representatives, the right of consultation on specific matters, including downsizing or closure of production units and reductions in personnel. The laws and/or collective labor agreements applicable to the Group could impair its flexibility in reshaping and/or strategically repositioning its business activities. The Group’s ability to reduce personnel or implement other permanent or temporary redundancy measures may be subject to government approvals and the agreement of the labor unions. Industrial action by employees could have an adverse impact on the Group’s business activities.
Furthermore, the Group purchases raw materials and components from a large number of suppliers and relies on services and products provided by companies outside the Group. Some of these companies are highly unionized. Close collaboration between a manufacturer and its suppliers is common in the industries in which the Group operates and although this offers economic benefits in terms of cost reduction, it also means that the Group is reliant on its suppliers and is exposed to the possibility that difficulties, including those of a financial nature, experienced by those suppliers (whether caused by internal or external factors) could have a material adverse effect on the Group’s business prospects, earnings and/or financial position.