DaimlerChrysler workers stage walkouts

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 July 2004 , STUTTGART - Some 20,000 employees of German- American automotive concern DaimlerChrysler began a demonstration Thursday at the company's main works near Stuttgart as part of a day of employee protests against the company's cost-cutting plans. The walkout at the plant at Sindelfingen, outside Stuttgart, shut down production lines for about two hours as tensions between management and workers increased. In Berlin, about 1,000 workers briefly walked off their jobs at DaimlerChrysler's plant in

15 July 2004

STUTTGART - Some 20,000 employees of German- American automotive concern DaimlerChrysler began a demonstration Thursday at the company's main works near Stuttgart as part of a day of employee protests against the company's cost-cutting plans.

The walkout at the plant at Sindelfingen, outside Stuttgart, shut down production lines for about two hours as tensions between management and workers increased.

In Berlin, about 1,000 workers briefly walked off their jobs at DaimlerChrysler's plant in the German capital, while demos were also planned at other sites around the country.

DaimlerChrysler and its workers council have locked horns over the company's aims to reduce costs by EUR 500 million annually, chiefly through rollbacks in employee benefits such as holiday and Christmas bonuses and wage structures.

Amid resistance to the plans shown by workers, company personnel executive Juergen Hubbert talked out loud about reducing some 6,000 jobs out of the 30,000 at Sindelfingen, where the C-Class Mercedes car is built.

Hubbert also said that the production of the C-Class car could be transferred to cheaper manufacturing sites, including South Africa.

In the debate, workers officials charged that management is now aiming to undermine the framework wage agreement at the company.

Erich Klemm, head of the employees council at DaimlerChrysler, said the envisaged 500 million euros' annual cost savings cannot be achieved without massive rollbacks in the framework agreement.

"And there aren't going to be any rollbacks in the agreements," Klemm vowed.

He said the employees council had offered wage concessions which would help the company to save EUR 180 million. A compromise now had to be found with management, Klemm said.

The dispute over rollbacks in workers' pay and benefits at DaimlerChrysler is part of the larger controversy which is now reaching into many branches of industry in Germany.

Amid a stumbling economy and the lure of cheaper production sites just beyond Germany's borders, especially in Eastern Europe, many German companies are putting pressure on employees to make wage and benefit concessions or face seeing their jobs transferred elsewhere.

The dispute is also part of the larger process of reforms under way in Germany, with the Berlin government and its conservative opposition having just wrapped up new legislation to reform labour laws making them more pro-business.

DPA

Subject: German news

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