German unions ask government to stop Faurecia closure

Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:44pm EST

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FRANKFURT, Dec 11 (Reuters) - German union IG Metall is
calling on politicians to save 200 blue collar jobs at
Faurecia's car seat plant, the first major closure by
an auto part supplier in Germany this year. 
    "We've had good experience with that if you look at the
example of Alstom in Salzgitter. By leaning on the
company, politicians were able to prevent the planned job cuts,"
said a spokesman for IG Metall in the state Lower Saxony. 
    In a rare move, all major political parties in the state
joined up last year to fight for 1,400 workers whose jobs were
reportedly at risk in Alstom's loss-making train manufacturing
plant in Salzgitter. 
    The French transport and engineering group restored
competitiveness after cutting only 370 jobs, and its Transport
division in Germany in the first fiscal half has now nearly
matched its record annual order intake from all of last year.
    Faurecia is hoping to turn around its German operations as
well, slimming its cost base by moving production to lower-wage
Poland. 
    In a press release limited to a select group of German
language news media, it said on Monday it plans to shift the
manufacturing of car seat components next year from its northern
German plant in Stadthagen, saying it needs to secure
competitiveness amid the ongoing crisis in European auto market.
   
    A spokeswoman for Faurecia said it employs around 11,000
workers across 30 production plants and 10 research &
development centres in Germany, where it generates about 40
percent of its global revenue thanks to major customers like
Volkswagen. 
    She said IG Metall's claims that the site of Stadthagen
would be weakened is "simply wrong" since some 900 jobs would
remain, including 750 in R&D alone. 
    Car parts suppliers employ some 293,600 people in Germany,
about 40 percent of domestic auto industry jobs in total. So far
they have made use of other flexible instruments such as work
time accounts or the state-sponsored scheme known as
"Kurzarbeit".
    Since suppliers generally have a higher number of plants
that each employ a low number of people, factory closures
generally receive far less media attention in Europe, making
them a less visible target for political pressures than their
car-making customers. 
    On Monday, General Motors' loss-making Opel unit told German
workers days before Christmas that the last car would run off
the assembly line in 2016 at its plant in Bochum, where about
3,000 workers manufacture the Zafira Tourer.
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