DaimlerChrysler, BMW workers strike over pay

30th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

30 March 2006, BERLIN/STUTTGART - Car assembly at two major DaimlerChrysler and BMW plants in Germany halted for several hours Thursday morning as workers attended rallies to demand more pay.

30 March 2006

BERLIN/STUTTGART - Car assembly at two major DaimlerChrysler and BMW plants in Germany halted for several hours Thursday morning as workers attended rallies to demand more pay.

It was the second day of rolling strikes at German engineering companies called by the main industrial union IG Metall.

The union is shutting down engineering businesses all over Germany for a few hours at a time as it presses a claim for a 5-per-cent pay hike. It said 50,000 unionized workers would stop work for parts of the day in two southern German states alone.

DaimlerChrysler production lines at Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, were idled along with the main BMW plant at Dingolfing near Munich.

Some 12,000 workers attended a rally outside the gate of the DaimlerChrysler plant. The union said enough workers walked off the job at BMW to halt production at Dingolfing as well as at a BMW components plant in Landshut.

The employers have not made a formal offer but have indicated that an increase of 1.2 per cent would be reasonable in view of the high labour costs in Germany.

IG Metall union, which claims to represent 2.4 million workers, has threatened to call a full-scale strike next month if no agreement is reached.

Meanwhile DaimlerChrysler said Thursday its boards had approved chief executive Dieter Zetsche's decision to end production of a four-seater version of its Smart cars and formal closure talks with manufacturing partner Mitsubishi would begin.

Angry Dutch trade unions had Thursday demanded talks with the company over the decision, warning they could seize all Smart cars at the NedCar production plant where the four-seater is made.

In the German city of Stuttgart, the German-American auto company said its boards had approved the move to put the focus on the Smart ForTwo, the two-seater micro-car introduced in 1998 that is now common on crowded European city-centre streets.

DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) had signed a "non-binding terms sheet" as the basis for formal negotiations, with the goal of entering into a binding agreement regarding the cancellation of the Smart ForFour, the announcement said.

The two-seater is made mainly in plants entirely owned by DaimlerChrysler's Smart unit, whereas the four-seater is manufactured at the NedCar site, which is owned by MMC. Zetsche announced on Saturday that he intended to cancel the ForFour.

The NedCar plant at Born in the Netherlands also makes the Mitsubishi Colt model.

Launched in 2004, the Smart ForFour never lived up to expectations and chalked up massive losses in the hotly-contested compact car market where it was up against more economical rivals.

A total of 143,000 Smart cars were sold in 2005, but monthly sales dropped 25 per cent in February to 7,700.

DPA

Subject: German news

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