January 21, 2009 / 7:09 PM / 9 years ago

Bayer in talks over wage cuts at plastics unit-paper

FRANKFURT, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Germany’s Bayer BAYG.DE has been in talks with union representatives about reducing wages at its Material Science business to counter the impact of the economic slowdown, according to a report in a German daily.

Bayer wants to make use of a clause in wage contracts that would allow the company to cut wages by 10 percent while leaving working hours unchanged, the Financial Times Deutschland said without quoting sources in a preview of a story to be published on Thursday.

Germany’s IG BCE chemical workers union is opposed to the plans and is pushing for different solutions to ease the economic impact, which workers are due to discuss on Thursday, the report said.

Bayer’s plastics unit depends on demand from construction companies and makers of cars and car parts, among the industries worst hit by the global crisis.

A Bayer spokesman confirmed there had been informal talks over possible measures the company could implement to ease the effects of the economic downturn that included reduced working hours but that no decision had been taken.

Formal negotiations would begin next week, the spokesman said.

Material Science makes plastics and insulation foams and accounts for about 30 percent of group sales.

In December, Chief Executive Werner Wenning said the unit was preparing for temporary plant shutdowns and shortened work weeks next year, having already taken other steps to curtail output. (Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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