The crisis serves as a cover?

The crisis serves as a cover?

On a dreary winter day, roman hermann stands in front of his workplace, the michelin plant in hallstadt, to demonstrate with hundreds of colleagues for being allowed to continue working here. "We fight back!", says transparent above his head. The mood is as bad as the weather. Whistles and a death knell can be heard. And accusations.

"For me, michelin is a put-up job", criticizes hermann. Many of his colleagues see it the same way he does. Negotiations on a social plan and reconciliation of interests between michelin and the works council will begin in the next few days, as the company reports.

"Our concern is to get clarity as soon as possible for our employees regarding the support measures", a company spokeswoman explains. "We continue to insist that the plant’s site guarantee until the end of 2022, as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, be honored", announces works council chairman josef morgenroth.

More and more bad news

Crisis atmosphere not only at michelin. Brose has announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs in germany, 400 of them in bamberg and hallstadt, according to information from the county and the town. At bosch, at least a contract to secure the site until 2026 gives hope, but the employees are doing without. Schaeffler is planning a major job cut, but hirschaid is apparently only marginally affected.

It’s the big names that make the headlines in the crisis of the automotive industry.

Doubts are raised

But is it really all down to the crisis?? Doubts are being raised not only outside the michelin plant. "I have the feeling that when michelin announced the plant closure, other companies jumped on the bandwagon", says employee hermann.

He is supported by matthias gebhardt, spokesman for the IG metall union in bamberg: "it really seems as if companies that are now experiencing a sharp drop in sales are jumping on the bandwagon and taking advantage of the crisis to cut jobs." The IG-metaller in the bamberg region explicitly protects diesel specialist bosch, but as examples he mentions schaeffler, brose, and also michelin. "Seizing the opportunity."

Holger kempf, head of the mining, chemical and energy workers’ union, has a similar view: "no one at michelin can tell me that this is suddenly due to the crisis."

Denials by the companies

The media crisis as a cover for the imaginary relocation of jobs to low-wage countries or job cuts?

"We reject these accusations", michelin clarifies. The difficult decision to close the site resulted from the extremely tense situation in the european tire market for passenger car tires in the 16-inch segment. The ongoing development of vehicle models toward coarser wheel circumferences has resulted in a steady decline in demand for smaller tire sizes, he says. This development has a strong impact on the bamberg plant, which mainly produces 16-inch tires. "In addition, competition is extremely intense, especially from asia", a spokeswoman reports, pointing out that buyers of smaller tires are turning to premium products.

Employee hermann is not convinced: "here, investments necessary for the plant to switch to coarser tire inch sizes were not approved. Now, despite good indicators, the plant closure is based on the fact that our bamberger plant is unexpectedly producing tires that are too small, and therefore the wrong ones."

Schaeffler’s press department is also defending itself against accusations that the company is taking advantage of the crisis to cut jobs: "the schaeffler group, like the entire automotive and automotive supplier industry, is affected by the volatile market environment and the pressure of technological change." The decision as to whether and which tire reductions are to be made at sites or in individual areas depends on an analysis of the market situation "always with the aim of helping to avoid redundancies", reports antje muller, head of public relations.

At brose in coburg, the press department does not respond to inquiries for several days.

Bosch, on the other hand, gives a detailed response, making it clear how profoundly the company’s headquarters sees the upheaval. Technical transformation, weakening diesel markets and the economic downturn are named as problem areas.

"We are aware of our responsibility to our employees and society. And since change also offers major opportunities for bosch, our goal is to keep as many jobs as possible and thus keep knowledge in the company", assures spokeswoman claudia arnold, who points to the agreement on the reduction of weekly working hours: this regulation alone would preserve 500 jobs in bamberg.

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