Siemens' decision to lay off 6,900 employees worldwide has kicked up quite a storm. While the German manufacturing conglomerate clarified its move and also said that it will try and adjust the laid-off workers in its 3,200 vacant posts in various other divisions, many employees of the firm have now threatened to go on a strike.
The job cut is mostly going to affect employees in its power and gas division, which has been seeing a slowdown due to the competition posed by the renewable power market. Out of the 6,900 jobs, Germany is likely to lose about 600.
"Should management stick to its plans we will continue with the means available to us as a trade union," Reuters quoted Juergen Kerner, a board member at IG Metall, Germany's largest union, as telling Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "In this context, we do not rule out industrial action, or strikes, as a last resort."
After the job cuts were announced, numerous employees also protested at Siemens' Berlin factory and have pledged to fight the firm's decision. "We are Siemens and we aren't going anywhere," the protesting employees said, according to AFP. The protest was also called by IG Metall and a union member said that the employees will protest the decision until Siemens comes up with a fair step.
"I can tell you that the mood in the meetings is very combative, he added.
Siemens had announced the layoffs on November 16, explaining that "the power generation industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed." The brand's management board member Lisa Davis had noted that the company was facing huge pressure.
Janina Kugel, Siemens' chief human resources officer, had also explained the decision in similar terms and called the step "necessary." However, Kerner had lashed out at Siemens for such a move and said: "Job cuts of this magnitude are totally unacceptable given the company is in an outstanding overall position."
German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries also noted that Siemens' employees are now concerned about their future and that the firm must work with them and the trade union to find a fair solution.
Now, Siemens has said that it is ready to discuss the layoffs with German workers' representatives and said that the firm hopes that the issue could be sorted through dialogue instead of protests. "I hope that the unions will find a way to go from protest to dialogue and that we can reach a balance of interests," Kugal told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.