graph of rising unemployment ratesI always have my ‘ears out’ at such gatherings, since they are good ways to connect with the ‘real world’. One of our fellow guests works in the air industry. His company has been avoiding laying off people by reducing the working week and hours worked and also by closing down the factory for forced holidays; in other words, many of the sorts of measures that the European Economic and Social Committee and its President and various rapporteurs have been encouraging. Better to be paid less or to work less than to be paid nothing at all or to be unemployed. I murmured a few words along those lines. My fellow guest agreed but pointed out that the real damage has been done elsewhere. Larger companies that have achieved a certain critical mass can afford, just about maybe, to maintain their workforces. But his company has achieved this by ‘repatriating’ all of the work that it used to outsource. The small and medium sized companies that used to feed off of this work are rapidly disappearing and, with them, a large number of jobs.