DaimlerChrysler in 'crucial'talks to resolve dispute

20th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 July 2004, STUTTGART - DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators made some progress Tuesday at what were termed crucial talks aimed at resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

20 July 2004

STUTTGART - DaimlerChrysler labour and management negotiators made some progress Tuesday at what were termed crucial talks aimed at resolving the worst industrial action to hit the German carmaker in decades, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

The two sides were "a bit closer" on ways of cutting some EUR 500 million in labour costs, the sources said. However, no details were divulged.

Tuesday's negotiating session came after up to 60,000 workers at DaimlerChrysler plants around Germany striked in recent days to voice their anger over company demands for pay and benefit rollbacks.

Again overnight, hundreds of nightshift workers at Stuttgart area plants walked off assembly lines to stage a torch-light procession before dawn Tuesday.

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.

While both sides were optimistic, an agreement was not likely to be reached Tuesday, sources told DPA.

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 hours - with no extra pay.

Nevertheless, the German government and opposition conservatives welcomed the salary freeze offer.

"Credibility is gained by starting with yourself," said Christian Social Union premier of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber.

The head of the powerful Federation of German Industry (BDI), Michael Rogowski, also greeted the move as "a symbolic step" in the right direction.

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.

DPA

Subject: German news

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