Protest against job cuts: making a real ruckus

Siemens management is hoping for compromises. Meanwhile, employees are venting their anger. The head of IG Metall announces a tough stance.

Loud and clear: Siemens employees demonstrate against job cuts on November 23 Photo: dpa

The protest against the planned cutbacks of thousands of jobs at Siemens took hold of large parts of downtown Berlin on Thursday morning. Employees of the electronics company demonstrated against the job cuts with a motorcade.

The chain of vehicles started at 6:15 a.m. at the Dynamowerk in the Spandau district, said Klaus Abel, first authorized representative of IG Metall in the capital. According to him, about 200 cars – decorated with banners and union flags – honked their horns as they followed a motif car that was supposed to show Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser. The Berlin traffic information center spoke on Twitter of 100 vehicles. The protest march could cause obstructions in several parts of the city, a police spokeswoman said on the radio.

In total, about 2,500 employees wanted to demonstrate. SPD leader Martin Schulz was also expected to attend. According to IG Metall, 2,000 participants from all over Germany wanted to come to the rally at the conference hotel of the annual Siemens works council meeting in Neukolln.

Siemens had announced to cut 6,900 jobs worldwide – about half of them in Germany. According to its own explanation, the Munich-based company is doing this in response to poorer business in the power plant and drive technology sectors.

IG Metall does not want to accept this. Union head Jorg Hofmann told the Suddeutsche Zeitung that his organization would now "make a real ruckus. Siemens should create jobs through investments. "We will certainly not leave the employees to their fate alone," he stressed. Hofmann remained vague on the question of whether there would be walkouts at the company: "Strikes always remain a last resort."

Several state ministers for economic affairs and the Berlin Senator for Economic Affairs invited the Siemens Managing Board to a meeting to discuss the planned job cuts. One expects explanations over the location closures, communicated Ramona Pop (Greens) and the Ministers Martin Dulig from Saxonia, Wolfgang Tiefensee from Thuringia and Albrecht Gerber from Brandenburg (all SPD). Against the background of the high profits of Siemens and the efficiency of the East German locations, they could not understand the decisions.

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