In the week from September 17th – 21st, 2018, union representatives from Siemens from 11 countries held an assembly in Munich. The meeting was this year´s meeting under the International Framework Agreement of Siemens.
The participants of the meeting were:
- from Germany: Birgit Steinborn, Harald Kern, Bettina Haller, Bettina Müller, Mimon Uhamou and Tobias Bäumler representing the Negotiating Committee of the Works Council of Siemens Germany and the IG Metall representatives Jürgen Kerner, Hagen Reimer and Claudia Rahman;
- from other European countries: Christian Schaller (PRO-GE, Austria), Roy Lund (Fellesforbundet, Norway), Ferran Navarro (CCOO, Spain) and Ron Arndts (Netherlands)representing the Executive Committee of the Siemens Europe Committee
- from the US: Randy Middleton (IBEW), John Shinn (USW), Craig Norman (IAM), Todd Viars (IUE-CWA) and Mark Haasis (UAW)representing the Steering Committee of the unions represented at Siemens in the US
local representatives: Tom Stimlinger (USW; Olean), Vic Henderson (IUE-CWA; Norwood), Brenda Salazar (IBEW; Houston)
other representatives: Tracy Romero (UAW), Brian Lamm (IBEW)
- from China: Dr. Zhang Li, Shen Minhua and Meng Er Pingas speakers of the Trade Union Chairmen Committee of Siemens China
- from India: Girish Ashtekar, Bhaskar Kotwal and Mahesh Sawantas representatives of the Siemens Employees´ Federation
- from South America: Patricio Aguilera (Chile) and Fabio de Melo (Brazil)as representatives of the Coordination Committee for Siemens in South America
- from South Korea: Shin Hawon and Kwak Wonjuas representatives of the Siemens Labour Union from Seoul
- Kan Matsuzaki, representing IndustriAll
Before the beginning of the meeting, Wayne Cupp from the US and Uday Mahale from India, two pioneers of the global union network at Siemens, who had passed away in the last two years, were honored.
Harald Kern opened the meeting. Jürgen Kerner welcomed the participants of the meeting on behalf of IG Metall.He emphasized the importance of the unions taking a global standpoint together in these difficult times. He also explained, that there are major changes happening at Siemens.
Birgit Steinborn underlined in her speech the necessity of expanding the possibilities of the employee representations to take influence on the policy of the companies. She pointed out, that even in Germany, this a point of controversy with the management, which thinks, this would slow down the decision-making process.She then explained the new company structure that will be established at Siemens.She mentioned, that there is a shift of jobs from manufacturing to software. Harald Kern added some remarks to the history of the International Framework Agreement of Siemens, which was put in place in 2012.
Kan Matsuzaki emphasized the importance of the Global Framework Agreement of Siemens for IndustriAll.He explained the general strategy of IndustriAll towards global companies and the current status of the development of global union networks and framework agreements.
Prof. Dr. Markus Helfen (University Innsbruck, Austria) described in his speech the consequences of the changes in global value chains for the unions.He recommended the expansion of global union networks and the close monitoring of Global Framework Agreements.
Hagen Reimer gave some information about the shareholder´s association “Wir für Siemens”, which has been initiated by union representatives, and about the “Siemens Dialog”, which is an information website by IG Metall.
The union representatives gave overviews of their specific situations.
In the following discussion, these issues were addressed:
- From the US union representatives:
Several PG locations have been announced to be closed down in the near future. The information to unions and concerned employees was presented very short-termed, without background information and without any possibility to discuss the issue with the management.In this context, some problems have occurred regarding deferred assets from pension schemes.
The number of apprentices at Siemens in the US is close to zero, although there is a lack of skilled workforce in the manufacturing sites.The unions have proposed to work together with the company on training and apprenticeship programs. These proposals have all been rejected resp. ignored by the management in the US.
The health insurance that is offered to the employees is too expensive. It is not understandable, why Siemens does not offer one health insurance for all employees in the US.
The unions have the impression, that Siemens is deliberately relocating jobs from unionized to not-unionized locations.
- From the union representatives from China:
It is doubted, that Siemens is competitive enough as employer to be able to attract enough skilled workforce.
There is a big need for qualification of the employees.
The possibilities of the union representatives to have more time for their union obligations have to be expanded.
There has to be more information given to the union representatives about the economic situation of the company.
In general, the unions should be more involved in the decisions of the company.
- From the union representatives from India:
The re-structuring of the company is slowing down all processes and decisions at the moment. There has to be more clarification about the new structure and its consequences.
There are many local problems, which have so far not been solved in the last years and not even after the meeting under the International Framework Agreement in India last year. These include unfair labour practices, unequal treatment of different groups of workers, problems with the retirement age at some locations and the safety of female workers.
A big number of trainers in the apprentice school has only been hired as contract worker.
- From the union representatives from South America:
Especially in Chile, there are communication problems between union and management.
There are safety problems in Chile.
In Brazil, the regulations for bonus payments are unclear.
- From the union representatives from South Korea:
There are many rumours about job cuts in the course of the re-structuring of the company.
The consequences of the new company structure for the local organization of the company are unclear.
The unions should generally be more involved in the decision-making process.
On the second day of the meeting, Mrs. Kugel, head of HR of Siemens and member of the management board, joined the meeting together with Dr. Wallisch, Mrs. Günther and Mr. Magas from HR.
Mrs. Kugel opened her speech by mentioning the current global challenges, especially for the economy in general and Siemens as company. She then reported the economic situation of the company.The total revenue of the company has not grown in this year. Generally, the management thinks, that Siemens is not growing fast enough.The biggest problems are existing in the gas and power business, especially with turbines and compressors. The capacities have already been significantly reduced, but further measures are to be expected.The digital business of Siemens is expanding.Mrs. Kugel also informed about social activities of the company like the support of the LGBT community.
Mrs. Kugel´s responses to the addressed issues:
- USA: In the US, many managers do not understand the importance of “social dialogue” between the company and the employees.Mrs. Kugel supports the proposed conversation of the US unions with Mrs. Davis as responsible manager for the US business of Siemens.In the US, there is a lack of state support for apprenticeship programs. The reluctance of the management to cooperate with unions in this issue has to be checked.The details of the problems with the pension plans will also be checked.
- China: The dialogue of the management with the unions should take place, at least according to the legal requirements.In China, often Chinese companies are more attractive for employees with high qualifications, because there are more headquarter functions than, for example, at Siemens.Mrs. Kugel will talk to Mrs. Ma, the head of HR in China, about the issues of wages and qualification requirements.
- India: There seem to be different perspectives on the – according to the union – unsolved issues from the sides of HR management and union.The dialogue has to be continued to solve all issues in India.The apprentice program in India has just recently been established. Probably, not all of the existing trainers will be employed by Siemens in the future.
- South America: There seems to be a problem with the safety reports from Chile and maybe other countries. Obviously, not all accidents have been reported to the headquarter.The contact between union and management should be improved in Chile. The union should announce, who they want to talk to, and this should be made possible.
- South Korea: The program “Vision 2020+” will not cause job reductions. Nevertheless, there may be job reductions for other reasons.
In her closing speech, Birgit Steinborn summarized the meeting by saying, that not all problems could be solved, but that it still is important to keep up the dialogue between management and union representatives.
The meeting also included visits of the apprentice center of Siemens in Erlangen, of the electronic factory in Erlangen and the locomotive factory in Munich.