By on December 17, 2013

Volvo assembly line

You’ve probably seen the video that Volvo produced with actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme performing one of his famous splits, while perched on the side mirrors of two Volvo semi trucks demonstrating Volvo Trucks’ “Dynamic Steering”. The video quickly went viral in the automotive and general worlds, with millions of people seeing it in the first few days after release. Now some Swedes are wondering if the timing of the video’s release was calculated to deflect attention from layoffs at the truck maker. Right around the same time that the video was going viral, it was announced that 380 temporary workers will be laid off from Volvo’s plant in Umeå, while another 100 jobs will be lost at Volvo Powertrain in Skövde .

“This is an adjustment to market fluctuations and we’re adjusting our capacity accordingly,” plant manager Mona Edström-Frohm said in a statement. Volvo trucks had previously announced that 500 jobs will go away when the Umeå plant ceases assembly operations in 2015.

When asked if the release of the Van Damme video was timed to coincide with the layoff announcements, Volvo Trucks spokesman Anders Vilhelmsson vehemently denied any connection. “The release of these films aren’t at all directly related to the organization of our manufacturing,” he told the Swedish website The Local.


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6 Comments on “Volvo Truck Denies Release of Van Damme “Epic Split” Video Was Timed to Bury Layoff News...”

  • avatar

    ah again, conspiracy theories. Marketing and HR timed to cover up the layoff……right after they covered up that Bush orchestrated 9/11.

    If Volvo really could plan that well, they didn’t need to lay off anyone.

    Temp workers, especially only 380, get laid off an rehired all the time. no need to cover up.

    • 0 avatar

      @HerrKaLeun: “Temp workers, especially only 380, get laid off an rehired all the time.”

      Wrong on several counts:

      1) 380 people isn’t so “only”, in these circumstances. This is a Volvo Trucks factory, not a Toyota Corolla factory; this is Umeå (pop. 118,349 [municipality, 2013]), not Osaka or Yokohama (or even Detroit [pop. 681,090]). This is, in fact, the entire driver-cabin factory they’re shutting down.

      2) None of the Swedish-language news sources I found talks about “temp” workers; seems the Local made that bit up on their own. Volvo has manufactured the driver cabins for their heavy trucks in Umeå for decades. The way the Swedish labour market works, those were very very probably permanent, not temporary, Volvo employees. (Well, “permanent”, apparently…)

      3) These people sure as heck aren’t going to be re-hired in Umeå, if the cabin manufacture is moved to Göteborg.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Big deal. So what if they did? Companies will do whatever they can to save their reputations and divert attention from touchy issues. For example, and as someone has suggested, it is *quite* possible that the GM powers-that-be deliberately timed their announcement to end Australian manufacturing to coincide with the hyped-up mega-reveal of the 2015 Mustang. But can you blame these companies?

    • 0 avatar

      @Kyree S. Williams: “Big deal. So what if they did? […] But can you blame these companies?”

      Apparently there was big talk about keeping the cabin factory up and running for years into the future when they got millions of Swedish Crowns in support from the state recently.

      So besides the workers, cetainly the Swedish tax payers may feel screwed over and therefore care.

      And yes, I feel I can indeed blame at least this company.

  • avatar
    mulled whine

    Swedish companies have to announce their layoffs (or possible layoffs) months in advance of it actually happening, and sometimes, the layoff notice gets cancelled anyway before taking effect.

    Seems to me, once you have issued the notice, you then just kill productivity from certainly the affected workers, but probably from the rest as well.

    As brutal as the American way is – if you have to do a layoff – just get it over and done with as fast as possibgle, and move on.

    Otherwise you just prong the agony.

    • 0 avatar

      This was just a lunch discussion. Evidently IBM gave up to a year’s notice on possible layoffs as part of their corporate policy (at least back in the day). While nobody likes layoffs, I think such a policy is fair as it gives the laid off workers time to find new work without the “layoff” stigma and also not making them wards of the state in-between jobs.

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