The car manufacturer wants to cut every fifth position in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. In return, battery cell production could take place at the site.
The works councils of Daimler in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim are appalled. In the past few days, the management of the car manufacturer confronted them with a “catalog full of provocations”, according to a leaflet from the employee representatives to the workforce at the site, which the Handelsblatt has received. “The end of the story: By 2025, we should have 4,000 fewer employees on board – agreed products are being questioned,” write the works council.
It has long been known that Daimler wants to reduce its personnel costs by two billion euros per year and is therefore cutting more than 20,000 of the 300,000 jobs worldwide. But now the cuts are being broken down to the individual locations – and the main plant of the Dax group should be hit particularly hard. Because 19,000 people work in Untertürkheim. A reduction of 4,000 jobs would correspond to a staff reduction of 21 percent.
The plans of the local management around site manager Frank Deiß are “out of the question”, rumble the works council. Your struggle is an example of the structural break in the entire automotive industry. After all, Untertürkheim is more dependent on combustion engines than almost any other German car factory. 11,000 women and men alone produce engines, transmissions and axles including cast parts here in six plant sections along the Neckar.
“Dying industry” is what Mercedes managers call this behind closed doors. In the course of the ramp-up of electromobility, many of the old jobs would become obsolete – and too many new tasks should not be added, according to corporate circles. Many managers believe that labor costs in Germany are simply too high.
“If it is up to the site management, then the other Powertrain locations abroad should be used to a greater extent than Untertürkheim,” warn the works councils. As representatives of the so-called control unit in the association of Mercedes drive plants, you feel that you have been betrayed. The fact that Untertürkheim is also to be converted into a development and qualification location for electromobility is little consolation for many employee representatives.
They welcome the fact that an “eCampus” is to be built in Stuttgart and that Daimler is considering starting battery cell production in the Neckar Valley, but that would probably not create many jobs. Even worse from the point of view of the workers’ leaders: Untertürkheim would also only get cell production if agreements that had already been made in previous years were weakened, which are intended to guarantee that the employees do not miss out on the Group’s electricity offensive.
“This tough cut robs us of the time we need for a fair transformation – we employee representatives can only take that as a provocation,” explained Michael Häberle, Chairman of the Works Council in Untertürkheim. Häberle did not explain which previous agreements the management specifically intended to change or cancel.
A central future product should not be endangered, it is said in corporate circles. As decided at the end of 2019, Daimler will build parts of the electric drive train (eATS) in Untertürkheim in the future. The workers’ leaders fought fiercely for the contract to develop and produce the battery-powered drive, consisting of an electric motor, a small gear unit with a differential and power electronics including control software.
Nevertheless, the mood in Untertürkheim is heated. After all, it is foreseeable that the main plant will shrink. It is only unclear how big the personnel cuts really will be in the end. The talks on job cuts have only just begun. Management and works councils will continue to negotiate over the next few weeks. Daimler itself does not name any specific reduction figures. The pressure to act is of course high. In the second quarter, the group drove a loss of almost two billion euros. Sales of cars, vans, trucks and buses fell by 26 percent in the Swabians in the first half of the year.
The result: Management and the works council signed a general works agreement on Wednesday to “secure jobs and reduce labor costs”. According to this, the working hours of tens of thousands of employees in administration will be reduced by two hours per week for one year from October 1, without wage compensation. The success bonus for 2020 will be completely canceled. At the same time, protection against dismissal will remain in place in Germany until the end of 2029. In other words: The announced downsizing in this country is taking place exclusively through voluntary models such as partial retirement, early retirement or severance payments.