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Business

Union Protests Siemens' Eastern Europe Plans

Several thousand employees of German industrial giant Siemens turned out Friday to protest the company's growing practice of shifting its production to low-wage countries. The outsourcing trend has posed a huge problem for the German government, which is struggling to come to grips with chronic unemployment. The trade union behind the protests, IG Metall, says the eastward shift is eroding worker protection rights in Germany that the union fought hard to win. Around 2,000 jobs at Siemens mobile phone factories in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia are currently under threat. The unions say Siemens plans to relocate production to Hungary to take advantage of labor costs there that are considerably cheaper. They worry this may be the beginning of a trend. But Siemens' management argues that German wages are too high and working hours too short.

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