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Crisis forces firms to cut working time

Posted: 20 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:economic crisis  automotive  working force  working hours 

As the effect of the economic crisis spreads to the automotive value chain, more and more companies are forced to trim down their working force—by short-time working, and in some cases, by cutting jobs.

The effects of the car market collapse have reached the electronics industry. While BMW already had re-started production in Munich and Leipzig after an elongated period of Christmas holidays, Daimler recently has announced to reduce working time for six of its plants in the time span through March. 40.000 production jobs are affected at this company alone.

Now the weak demand in the automotive industry as well as in other segments of the economy is hitting the suppliers. Infineon, in Europe the largest automotive chip vendor, has announced working time reductions. Against the background of declining utilisation, 2200 workers in the company's Regensburg plant are working on reduced schedule since the beginning of the year. In addition, about 1800 workers in the company's Dresden fab will have to reduce their weekly working hours.

The period for short-time work will start in February and is scheduled to last for six months. The company also has announced to temporarily close some of its production lines.

Similar moves also have been announced from other points of the automotive value chain. For instance, Bosch group as one of the major automotive suppliers has announced short time work. About 10.000 jobs will be affected in the entire group. While not all of them are employed in the automotive segment, activities related to these customers feel the downturn particularly hard. The company, for instance, provides injection pumps for diesel engines; a market where the company claims market leadership.

Short-time working is regarded by the industry here as an instrument to adapt production capacity to low demand. Workers will receive a somewhat reduced payment during this period, but reduced hour working is not seen as a measure to cut costs in the first place.

The difference between normal salary and reduced salary is paid in part by the employment authorities. "Short-time working is used to avoid cutting jobs and keeping the expertise in the company," explained a Bosch spokesperson. "We believe that this way we can save our competiveness over periods when business does not run so well and when the downturn is over we can do a flying start."

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