Employees of German engineering giant Siemens, particularly in its troubled telecommunications and information technology divisions, will face "painful cuts", chairman Heinrich von Pierer wrote in an e-mail to his workforce on Thursday. "We're facing very major challenges," von Pierer wrote in his traditional Christmas message to employees, extracts of which were made available to the public by the IG Metall labor union. "I'm aware that we won't be always be able to avoid painful cuts." A Siemens spokesman declined to comment on the message. The German electronics giant has embarked on a major reorganization of its telecoms, both fixed-line and mobile, activities. And Siemens also recently announced that it would axe 600 jobs in its IT services business.