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Shipbuilding: Crisis at Meyer Werft: More than 400 jobs at risk

Shipbuilding: Crisis at Meyer Werft: More than 400 jobs at risk

The Papenburg shipbuilders stand for engineering “Made in Germany” – but now the traditional Lower Saxony company is facing severe cuts. Hundreds of jobs are at risk.

Meyer Werft, internationally known for its cruise ships, is facing a tough restructuring course. The company is in a historic crisis, said Ralf Schmitz, chief restructuring officer who joined the company a few weeks ago, after a staff meeting in Papenburg. The management informed the workforce about planned job cuts. “We are talking about around 440 jobs, spread across the group,” Schmitz told the German Press Agency.

Meyer Werft also has locations in Rostock and Turku, Finland. At the headquarters in Emsland, the permanent workforce currently numbers around 3,000 men and women. Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs Olaf Lies (SPD) expressed concern. The chairman of the works council in Papenburg, Andreas Hensen, spoke of a huge shock.

The company urgently needs to cut costs, said Schmitz. The reason is the consequences of the corona pandemic and the large price increases of the past months and years. Last year, significant losses were incurred. “Due to corona, the shipyard is falling into a capacity slump, now, in 2024/25, work is in short supply,” said the manager. There is a significant need for financing.

“The shipyard needs a lot of money”

The shipyard’s order book is still full. According to previous information from the company, there are currently orders for six cruise ships, a research vessel and the steel construction for four offshore converter platforms.

Because of the collapse of the tourism market, the orders at the beginning of the Corona pandemic were extended in consultation with the customers. According to Schmitz, the ships were calculated before Corona. According to him, the usual price adjustment clauses, which are used to agree on price increases for materials, are not included in the contracts. “The shipyard needs a lot of money, a lot of liquidity, to be made weatherproof again,” said Schmitz. Above all, the company must be made profitable again: “Costs must be saved.”

The management wants to achieve sufficient results again by the end of 2027. A major problem is the financing of new orders – these have to be pre-financed by the shipyard. Negotiations are now to take place with the works council and IG Metall about job cuts.

Works council: Every single job must be preserved

Works council chairman Hensen criticized the fact that the workforce should be held accountable for management mistakes. They have already given a lot to the company in recent years. The employees have done 100 hours of overtime every year without pay. The works council estimates the equivalent at around 40 million euros. “We think that at some point it’s enough, you can’t always blame everything on your colleagues.”

From the employees’ point of view, the 33 million euros savings that management hoped to achieve with the job cuts could be found elsewhere, said Hensen. “Management must listen to their colleagues on site,” he demanded. Every single job at Meyer Werft must be retained.

“The management’s plans would be a hard blow for those affected and the region. The situation at Meyer Werft is very serious, but haphazard staff cuts are not a solution,” said Daniel Friedrich, district manager of IG Metall Küste. “Starting a future concept with staff cuts and sacrifices is not a good start. We will not accept a policy of clear-cutting and will fight for the future of all employees.”

Economics Minister Lies: Painful cut

Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs Olaf Lies announced that he would take a very close look at the measures planned by Schmitz. The shipyard has good prospects, but is also in a very difficult situation. However, it is the wrong approach to now “reflexively” talk about laying off employees, said the SPD politician. “I clearly expect that proposals will now be made in the interests of the employees on site.”

Such job cuts would mean a painful blow for the Papenburg site. “Meyer Werft is of central importance for the entire region, both as an employer and as one of the international know-how carriers in cruise ship construction and thus as an industrial flagship of world class,” said Lies.

Source: Stern

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