Bad news for thousands of employees at the automotive supplier Continental: The company is closing the tire plant in Aachen. Other locations are also affected. Politicians and unions are outraged.
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The traditional tire plant of Continental in Aachen is about to end. The supervisory board of the auto supplier confirmed the closing plans of the group on Wednesday. The plant is scheduled to be abandoned at the end of 2021. According to the company, 1,800 of the 2,000 jobs there are affected by the plans.
The North Rhine-Westphalian state government reacted indignantly. “The management and supervisory board of Continental snub an entire region without need,” said Economics Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP). Continental endangers “its reputation as a socially responsible premium manufacturer”.
Conti argues against it with the economic environment. With a production volume of eight million car tires per year, the tire plant in Aachen is “the smallest and also the most cost-intensive location in the company’s entire European production network,” according to a press release.
A total of 30,000 jobs affected
Together with the employee representatives, “the most socially acceptable solutions possible for the affected employees in Aachen” are now being worked out. Exploratory talks with the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the city of Aachen have started. The aim is to develop sustainable concepts for the subsequent use of the site.
Conti is under pressure due to structural change and the Corona crisis. The plant closings are also part of an austerity program announced last year and now tightened at the world’s second largest auto supplier. A total of 30,000 jobs are to be “changed” worldwide, 13,000 of them in Germany. From 2023 onwards, the renovation should save more than one billion euros a year.
Conti boss: layoffs are “the very last resort”
Employee representatives immediately criticized the decision of the Supervisory Board on Wednesday. Christiane Benner, second chairwoman of IG Metall and vice-chairman of the supervisory board at Continental, criticized Conti for not fulfilling its social responsibility. It is now about “alternatives to closings and the reduction of 13,000 industrial jobs” to examine. Previously, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) had also been irritated by the extent of the austerity measures.
Conti boss Elmar Degenhart emphasized that the 30,000 jobs affected by the savings program did not automatically mean 30,000 layoffs. Layoffs are “the very last resort for us,” he said.