Carmaker Ford heads toward short-time work in Cologne | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 24.04.2012
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Carmaker Ford heads toward short-time work in Cologne

Automaker Ford has warned it will have to introduce short-time work for its employees in Cologne. While revenues in Germany itself have been stable, sales in crisis-stricken southern Europe have taken a tumble.

Carmaker Ford of Germany is forced to introduce a short-time work scheme as of next month, the company confirmed on Tuesday. Reduced working hours will only apply to Ford's production facilities in Cologne, but not to its location in Saarlouis.

The automaker is planning to have its production-related staff in Cologne work short-time between May and October of this year. About 4,000 employees would be affected, out of a total workforce of 17,000 at the location and in its vicinity.

The measure comes on the back of drastically dwindling sales in southern Europe, with a marked drop in revenues particularly in Portugal, Greece, Italy and France.

Ford in good company

Ford insisted that revenues in Germany had remained unchanged, but first-quarter sales in Europe as a whole dipped by seven 7.0 percent year-on-year, owing to the ongoing debt crisis in much of the eurozone.

Ford's facilities in Cologne produce the Fiesta compact, with 80 percent of the output being exported. Currently, the plant churns out 1,770 cars on a daily basis. Due to increasing sales problems on the continent, Ford would only produce 345,000 Fiesta units throughout 2012, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger daily reported on Tuesday.

With the sole exception of Volkswagen, all other German carmakers have been affected by the debt crisis in Europe and a drop in sales in the area. Things look particularly bad for GM's European subsidiary Opel, which is currently negotiating additional savings to make its European business segment profitable again. Measures being viewed by management may also include closures of production facilities in Germany.

hg/slk (dpa, Reuters, AFP)