America’s weaker dollar has begun hollowing out Germany’s manufacturing industry.
German-made machine tools, jet parts, steel, and even autos are no longer cost competitive vs. American manufacturing these days.
Der Spiegel: Workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen outside Munich aren’t usually the rebellious types. They are proud of their jobs and of the cars they build. But last Wednesday workers at the plant were nothing but angry.
After their foremen had informed them, shortly before 10 a.m., that the next generation of the company’s C-Class model series will no longer be produced in Sindelfingen, they walked out of the factory buildings en masse and headed for Building 1, where plant management has its offices. But the plant manager didn’t have the courage to face his employees, and even Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche chose to have a member of his staff inform them why assembly of the C-Class is being shifted to the company’s US plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The employees were left with anger and a sense of helplessness. They had already prevented the outsourcing of production twice in the past by agreeing to do without breaks and supplementary benefits to bring down labour costs. But this time management wasn’t even willing to discuss cost savings at the German plant. It was already clear that employees couldn’t possibly take a pay cut large enough to offset the decline of the dollar.