Daimler could cut the workforce at the Berlin engine plant in half

From 2022, no more diesel engines will be produced in Berlin. 2500 employees in Daimler’s oldest factory fear for their jobs. IG Metall is appalled.

Mercedes-Benz Berlin Plant, Germany: Assembly of the Mercedes-Benz V6 diesel engine OM642 – (photo by Daimler)

The car manufacturer Daimler is starting to cut clear in its German engine plants. After it became known on Wednesday that the Mercedes manufacturer wants to cut every fifth position at its headquarters in Stuttgart Untertürkheim, there is likely to be an even worse threat in Berlin Marienfelde.

The 2,500 strong team in the capital is to be more than halved, the Handelsblatt learned from corporate circles. If it goes according to the plans of the management, in three to five years there will only be one core group left at the location.

The reason: As the Handelsblatt reported in July, Daimler plans to phase out production of the V6 diesel engine in the capital at the end of 2021. A comparable replacement product, which the majority of the local employees could work with, is currently not planned. The Rosskur in Berlin is part of an already decided savings program with which Daimler wants to reduce personnel costs by two billion euros per year.

The employee representatives are appalled. They fear the “end of the combustion engine” in Berlin and the “sell-out” of the Südwerk. The union IG Metall even says that Daimler management wants to “shave” the Berlin location.

Michael Rahmel, chairman of the works council in Marienfeld, railed against the plans of the management: “It makes no sense at all to want to bleed out such a well-established plant with all its know-how.” He wants to “defend himself” by all means.

Investments reduced to a minimum

Jan Otto, first authorized representative of IG Metall Berlin, also announced resistance. “We will not allow the management to secretly move production lines for the internal combustion engine to Romania or Poland.” Daimler operates other powertrain factories in Eastern Europe.

In view of the low labor costs, many internal managers have been pleading for years to increase the production of engines and transmissions there. Especially since the entire powertrain network is struggling with considerable excess capacities, not least due to the corona crisis.

Berlin Marienfelde looks back on a long history. Daimler has been active here since 1902. The brand with the star is still one of the largest employers in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. The employees here produce engines, engine components and transmissions on a factory area of ​​500,000 square meters. According to his own statement, unionist Otto is now confronted with the “announcement of the gradual shutdown of production” in Berlin. In terms of industrial policy, that is the completely wrong signal.

“It cannot be that Tesla is building a completely new plant with 10,000 jobs less than 50 kilometers from the Mercedes-Benz plant in Berlin, and at the same time the Daimler management can think of nothing more than to shy away from the future and its oldest production facility Wanting to close the plant here,” criticized Otto. That is “devastating” for Germany’s leading premium car brand.

Daimler itself did not comment on specific workforce reduction plans. However, the group does not want to hear about an investment freeze or even a closure of the plant. “There will also be further investments in the Berlin location,” emphasized Daimler on request. At the same time, the share of investments in conventional drives will be “reduced to a minimum”, while those in electromobility and digitization will increase.

In principle, protection against dismissal applies to Daimler employees across Germany until the end of 2029. The announced staff cuts would therefore have to take place through voluntary vehicles such as partial retirement, early retirement or severance payments.

Contact the author: terrellosborne@wheelsjoint.com

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