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Business

Siemens Plays Hard Ball with Unions

The German engineering firm Siemens is getting serious about savings. On Wednesday, Siemens management entered into talks with representatives from the IG Metall union in Munich to discuss how the cost of producing products in Germany could be made more internationally competitive. According to a report in the German daily Berliner Zeitung, the top brass at Siemens is threatening to relocate 10,000 jobs to former Eastern bloc countries if they cannot negotiate ways to reduce the costs of domestic German production. Among the measures they hope to introduce are increasing the work week to 40 hours without additional pay and reducing vacation and Christmas compensation, if not eliminating the latter entirely. IG Metall has publicly decried the measures and has called on Siemens to reverse course. "We will neither accept the relocation of jobs to the east nor a 40-hour work week," Martina Helmerich, a spokeswoman for IG Metall told Berliner Zeitung.