FRANKFURT - Daimler's German workforce, fearing more cars could be shifted to foreign plants just days after management decided to build a key model in its Alabama facility instead of in Sindelfingen, has demanded job guarantees until 2020.
German labor union IG Metall believes 3,000 jobs are at risk once the largest Mercedes-Benz plant loses production of the C-Class when the next generation of mid-size luxury cars roll off assembly lines in 2014.
Our demands are on the table ... talks will resume this week, a spokeswoman for the German workforce said.
Mercedes-Benz Cars employs some 85,000 people in Germany, most of whom still have guaranteed jobs until the end of 2011.
Responding to a painful depreciation in the U.S. dollar, management decided to build volumes of the upcoming C-Class destined for the North American market in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant.
The decision sparked hefty protests among Mercedes workers in Sindelfingen, who in turn, did not show up for work on Saturday to build E-Class cars. More production could be lost on Monday, when workers plan to down tools to participate in staff meetings.
Daimler personnel chief Wilfried Porth told German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday, that Sindelfingen's nearly 29,000 employees had no reason to fear losing production of the larger E-Class and S-Class, should the dollar remain weak.
We are competing in a market segment with a high price pressure, where profit margins are significantly lower than with the E-Class and S-Class. Consequently, a shift of production is not an issue in this case, Porth said.
He added that Daimler could secure at least 1,800 C-Class jobs in Sindelfingen by shifting some workers from production into development, bringing back more outsourced work such as the manufacture of large tooling machines and building up a permanent group of staff that assists with the production ramp-up of next generation vehicles in foreign plants.
When asked whether management would grant German workers long-term job guarantees again, Porth avoided a clear answer, saying only that he was confident a solution could be reached with German labour leaders. (Reporting by Kathrin Schich and Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)