Accord elusive in DC labour talks

21st July 2004, Comments 0 comments

21 July 2004, STUTTGART - Talks between DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators were said to be in a critical phase Wednesday with little chance of imminent agreement on resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades.

21 July 2004

STUTTGART - Talks between DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators were said to be in a critical phase Wednesday with little chance of imminent agreement on resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades.

Management continued to insist on cutting some EUR 500 million in labour costs, a measure that the union negotiators said cuts personnel staffing to the bone.

Going into the last-ditch talks, corporate executives signalled they were ready to accept a pay freeze if workers agreed to measures aimed at saving EUR 500 million.

A wage freeze would be less of a concession than a 10 percent wage cut for executives which had been mentioned at the weekend by DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp in a bid to win a work week increase to 40 hours from the present 35 - with no extra pay.

DaimlerChrysler managers want workers to agree to savings of EUR 500 million from 2007 in connection with the production of the new C-Class Mercedes-Benz.

This would be achieved by cutting wages, bonus payments, vacation time and work-day breaks, they say.

Any freeze of executive pay would yield far more modest savings given that the DaimlerChrysler's top managers earned a total of EUR 40.8 million last year, according to the company's 2003 annual report.

If the cuts are rejected, DaimlerChrysler is threatening to shift some 6,000 jobs from the Stuttgart region to elsewhere in Germany or to South Africa.

In related developments, the head of the mighty Verdi umbrella trade union, Frank Bsirske, signalled his willingness to trim his EUR 13,000 monthly salary by 10 percent in return for job guarantees for some 2,600 Verdi union staffers for the next two years at no pay increase.

Meanwhile, former Mitsubishi executive Ulrich Walker is to become head of DaimlerChrysler's Smart division, according to Handelsblatt newspaper. He will replace Andreas Renschler, who is taking a seat on the board of directors.

DaimlerChrysler declined to comment on the report. A spokesman also declined to comment on a report in Stern magazine linking Schrempp to one of Germany's most wanted fugitives, former domestic intelligence chief and deputy defence minister Ludwig-Holger Pfahls.

Pfahls, who was captured in Paris earlier this month, reportedly met behind closed doors with Schrempp in 1989 during a government- industry meeting on development of the Eurofighter project.

Pfahls, once the rising star of German security affairs, is accused of taking EUR 1.9 million in bribes in connection with the sale of tanks to Saudi Arabia in 1991.

DPA

Subject: German news

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