Mercedes-Benz cuts more than 10,000 jobs – World Socialist Web Site


Mercedes-Benz cuts more than 10,000 jobs


December 2, 2019

Mercedes-Benz, the world's best-selling luxury car brand, announced Friday that it will cut more than 10,000 jobs over the next two years.

According to Daimler's director of human resources and board member Wilfried Porth, "the total number of staff in the world will be five-digit". In a teleconference with the media, he pointed out that the downsizing process would end in 2022.

This announcement comes two weeks after CEO Ola Källenius announced, to the applause of investors in London, that the company would implement an austerity program aimed at reducing staff costs by 1.4 billion euros. . After two recent earnings warnings, Källenius has promised shareholders and investors that he will do everything in his power to boost their returns.

Mercedes-Benz, founded in 1928 in Stuttgart, employs 300,000 people worldwide, including 180,000 in Germany. Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwestern Germany, the center of the car industry, will be particularly affected. A significant number of parts manufacturers, including Bosch, depend on car manufacturers. In total, 460,000 jobs depend on auto-related sectors in Baden-Württemberg alone.

Daimler Headquarters

This announcement is part of a broad attack on jobs in the German and international auto industry. This year saw 570,000 jobs lost in India and China. On Tuesday, German automaker Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, announced the removal of 9,500 jobs over the next five years. On Wednesday, BMW has announced budget cuts of more than 12 billion euros by 2022 and Bosch announced Thursday the removal of 500 additional jobs in the city of Reutlingen.

Volkswagen has eliminated 30,000 jobs in the last three years. Ford currently eliminates 12,000 jobs in Europe and 7,000 in North America. Nissan is cutting 12,500 jobs worldwide. General Motors closes four plants in the United States and Canada and cuts 8,000 jobs.

An increasing number of workers around the world are resisting these attacks. In Matamoros, Mexico, tens of thousands of over-exploited auto parts workers went on strike for several weeks against corporations and unions. In the United States, 48,000 GM workers have launched the longest strike in half a century. Strikes in the automobile industry have spread to India, China, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Great Britain and other countries.

As soon as these militant struggles break out, they come up against the opposition of the union apparatus, which isolates them and betrays them. The German union IG Metall, the United Motor Union United (UAW) and the others have long since ceased to be labor organizations fighting for increases or social reforms. They function more like gendarmes in the factories, charged with imposing the diktat of the employers.

Builders and unions justify the attack on jobs and wages, highlighting the overall decline in sales and global restructuring related to the introduction of electric and autonomous vehicles. In a statement, Daimler said, "The auto industry is experiencing the greatest transformation in its history. The move towards CO2-neutral mobility requires significant investment. "

These drastic measures, which will devastate the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, benefit from the full support of IG Metall and the works council, who have worked with management on the backs of workers to define the details of the layoffs. When Porth announced the job cuts at Daimler, he boasted: "Now that the key points of the rationalization of the company are accepted by the works council, we can achieve this goal by the end of 2022. "

Porth refused to give details of the agreement with IG Metall and the works council. He said that we will define the modalities for the implementation of the key points in the coming weeks.

According to the media, however, in addition to the rationalization measures, Daimler and the works council intend to further reduce staffing costs. In particular, employees would be encouraged to reduce weekly hours. Those who work 40 hours a week should work fewer hours with less pay. Daimer would extend very little of the employment contracts of temporary staff in the administration, or fixed-term contracts of 40 hours for permanent staff.

Two Daimler workers who spoke to World Socialist Web Site said they had news of the cuts only through the media. Uks said intense negotiations had taken place between management and IG Metall since Källenius became CEO six months ago. They were convinced that the company announced the cuts Friday to avoid a labor unrest in the factories. IG Metall convened a general meeting on Monday in the Schillerhalle, one of Stuttgart's largest facilities.

Activists broadcast WSWS auto worker newsletter in front of Sindelfingen plant

Daimler relies on the services of IG Metall to carry out its projects. Last Friday, IG Metall organized a so-called day of action on Schlossplatz in the center of Stuttgart to dispel the anger of the workers, who denounce the actions of the union and works councils. But even there, union bureaucrats could not hide their role as co-conspirators with the company in planning and implementing attacks.

IG Metall Regional Director Roman Zitzelsberger proposed the union's collaboration stating, "All employers need to know that shaping the future is only possible together." He added, "Change is coming and we do not ostrich ".

Zitzelsberger, a member of the Daimler Advisory Board with an income of 213,700 euros last year, is currently the main negotiator for IG Metall. He and the employers' organization Industrieverband Südwestmetal are discussing plans to reduce the costs and staff of 160 metallurgical companies in Baden-Württemberg.

Ergun Lümali, vice chairman of the Central Works Council, said the union supports collective redundancies and simply wanted the most effective restructuring possible: "We do not just want a debate about individuals. Reducing staff costs must focus on improving processes and workflows. "

Collective redundancies at Daimler and the role of unions once again highlight the need for workers to develop their own independent response to the slaughter of jobs in the international auto industry.

In a recent perspective published on the World Socialist Web Site We have written: These developments clearly show that workers need an internationalist perspective and a socialist agenda to oppose attacks on their jobs, working conditions and wages. They face not only the world-class car manufacturers and their billionaire shareholders, but also unions and works councils. They work with management to develop the reductions and contribute to their implementation. Without breaking with these bought and paid devices and without establishing independent committees to unite their struggles internationally, not a single job can be defended.

The developments at Mercedes-Benz clearly emphasize the accuracy of this perspective. Everything now depends on the initiative and the independent organization of the workers.

(Article published in English on November 30, 2019)

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