Strike at car supplier stops production at DaimlerChrysler, 2005

Submitted by Steven. on November 22, 2006

Germany: production halted in DaimlerChrysler plant when about 50 to 60 of the 336 workers at Dräxlmaier (Bremen) blocked the factory gates on Monday, 4 of April.

6th of April 2005. They demanded a collective contract and the reduction of working time plus wage compensation. Dräxlmaier is not a member of the employers’ association, the working week amounts to 40 hours and wages are well below the wages of the collective contract. The management has also established an arbitrary bonus system, which further antagonised the workers. The final straw was the recent announcement of the management to dismiss and re-locate staff.

The plant in Bremen produces about 92 to 100 inside linings for the Mercedes sportscars SL and CLS. The workers combined their strike with a blockade of the factory gates and patrols, given that the management tried to load lorries with work material through a breach in the fence. At 12 o’clock the same day, when the assembly lines came to a halt in the nearby Mercedes factory, the management used helicopters in order to get parts out of the Draexlmaier factory. They were able to transport 25 to 30 of the inside linings. Production at the Mercedes plant was resumed two and a half hours later. Mercedes management confirmed that production had been affected by the strike, but refused to announce the number of cars lost that day. The helicopters also transported scabs, and not for free: about 300 Euros per minute for the three helicopters plus 1,500 Euros per hour for the local fire brigade. Thanks to a summary proceeding, the management won a legal decision which put an end to the blockade of the gates on the next Tuesday at 3 p.m.. The regional police forces were alarmed about the possibility of resistance against the decision of the court. There were some scuffles at the gate and ten lorries had to leave empty, but a big clash was avoided, also due to the announcement of the union to stop the blocking of the gates. The management had threatened the strikers with a penalty of 250.000 Euros in case the workers would have continued the blockade.

A worker told the ‘Rote Fahne’: “Most of us are members of the IG Metall (metal union), and the local reps give us advice, but we decide what to do ourselves. We want an official ballot, so that the union pays us strike money, but we continue the strike anyway. We won’t go back to work before the management agrees to an acceptable collective contract. So far the management offers are arbitrary. There are about 20 scabs here and some temp workers, who have been hired for that purpose. The management promised the scabs that in case of redundancies they would get paid their wages for another year. Once the stock is empty the production at Mercedes will stop again, with gate blockages or without”.

On the 8th of April the strike officially finished. The union announced that negotiations have taken place or will take place, but it didn’t make the results public. According to union information there might be an official ballot for an unlimited strike in the near future.

Dräxlmaier opens new production unit in Hunedoara/Romania
25th of May 2004. Dräxlmaier has invested 15 Million Euros in Romania, the firm’s fifth direct investment in the country since the opening of plants in Pitesti, Timisoara/Temeswar, Satu-Mare and Brasov/Kronstadt. The investment in Hunedoara secures about 600 jobs and by the end of the year 400 more workers are supposed to be employed. Dräxlmaier has invested over 120 Million Euros in total and is one of the most important foreign investors in Romania. The Group has 40 production units worldwide and employs 23,000 workers.