Harald Kern mentioned the multiple crises, that have affected the world in the last years and are still present at the moment, like Covid-19, the war started by the Russian government, climate change and the increasing lack of water in many regions. He also explained the consequences of the suppression of the unions under the Nazi regime in Germany, which started exactly 90 years ago. The logical conclusion of the unions in Germany after World War II was to become strong by unity, so that a defeat of the union movement should not happen again. He then emphasized the importance of unions and collective agreements in Europe, but also mentioned the difficulties in some Central East European countries because of the historical role of the unions in these countries.
Cristian Ranga presented information on the host country of the meeting, Romania. He also mentioned, that there is no union representation at Siemens in Romania at the moment, but only non-union employee representatives. The employee representatives from the sites in Sibiu (SIMEA, SI, Sykatec) and Buziaș introduced themselves. They took part as guests in the internal part of the meeting.
Harald Kern underlined the importance of a network of the employee representatives in Romania. To support this network, Árpád Suba, the president of the union IndustriAll-BNS from Romania, was also invited to the meeting. He explained the Romanian system of employee representation and unions and mentioned the five union confederations, that are acknowledged as “representative” in Romania.
Romanian law does not allow collective bargaining on national level anymore. As result, only a small minority of the employees in Romania work under a collective agreement, which has been concluded by a union. It will be difficult in Romania to fulfil the latest requirements of the EU to increase the number of employees, who are under collective agreements. Harald Kern underlined the importance of unions as support of employee representatives.
The speakers of the SEC regions, Kai Sann (Austria), Ferran Navarro (Spain) and Ron Arndts (Netherlands) gave reports on the regional meetings. These reports were completed by comments of the SEC delegates on the respective situation in their countries. Especially the delegates from the countries in Central East Europe described high inflation rates and insufficient salary increases.
Harald Kern informed about the situation concerning the carve-out of Innomotics. At this point, there was no generally new information. In Germany, the necessary agreements with the employee representatives had just been finalized. Innomotics will stay a part of Siemens for the time being.
Mimon Uhamou (Germany) informed the delegates about the current status of the EU sponsored project of the SEC, which has the name “SEC-Restart”. The application could finally be submitted to the EU Commission; now the decision of the EU authorities has to be awaited. IndustriAll-Europe will be the project partner, the unions IG Metall (Germany), OS KOVO (Czech Republic), PRO-GE (Austria), CCOO (Spain), UGT (Spain) and Dansk Metal (Denmark) will be represented in the steering committee of the project. He also explained the main background of the project, which will is intending to react on the increasing fragmentation of the company Siemens.
Birgit Steinborn (Germany), the president of the Central Works Council of Siemens Germany and deputy chairwoman of the Siemens Supervisory Board, commented on the current situation at Siemens. She mentioned the support of the employee representatives of Siemens to give up the business in Russia, although this was a quite severe cut in the Mobility business. She said, that the management is still planning an expansion of the business in China despite the political distortions. From the point of view of the employee representatives in Europe, this appears to be a contradiction to the objectives of the “Degree” program of Siemens. It would make more sense to strengthen the sites in Europe. She then also explained the background of the carve-out of the “Large Drives” business (Innomotics), which was mainly driven by the financial markets and especially by the “sustainability funds”.
Bettina Haller (Germany), the president of the Central Works Council of Siemens Mobility in Germany, gave a report on the current situation at Siemens Mobility. The mobility market is significantly growing. The fact, that the business mainly consists of large orders, makes it difficult to match the requirements of quarterly business reports. The localization of manufacturing, especially in India and the US, reduces the amount of export out of Europe. There is a profitability gap of the business compared to DI and SI at Siemens.
Dorothea Simon (Germany), the president of the Central Works Council of Siemens Healthineers in Germany, informed the delegates on the current situation at Siemens Healthineers. She especially mentioned the acquisition of the US company Varian by Siemens Healthineers, which is specialized on radiotherapy. There are almost no synergies between Siemens Healthineers and the rest of Siemens. Acquisitions like Varian are only possible, because Siemens Healthineers is on the stock market. There is a growing tendency of localization of manufacturing, but also research and development, especially in China and India. The competition from Chinese companies is growing. The business field “Diagnostics” is reducing its portfolio. The focus on the platform “Atellica” will lead to job cuts.
Hagen Reimer (IG Metall) presented in his speech the view of the German union IG Metall, but also of all European unions, on the work of the SEC. He emphasized the high quality of the communication inside the SEC despite the big variety of represented countries, which all bring their cultural specifics along. He also described the huge pressure from the financial markets on the management to split off and sell even more parts of the company in order to increase the cash-flow towards the shareholders.
Harald Kern, the current president of the SEC, will retire at the end of the year. For this reason, the delegates had to elect a new president, who will take over at the beginning of next year. The delegates voted unanimously for Mimon Uhamou (Germany) as new SEC president from 2024 on. Carmelo Gammeri (Italy) and Ivica Ergović (Croatia) will also retire this year. The SEC also made their farewells.
On the second day of the meeting, Mrs. Wiese and her staff from the P&O department (former HR) joined the meeting together with representatives of the management of Siemens Romania. Harald Kern emphasized the importance of the experience of democracy, even at the workplace, as basis for resilience against all kinds of anti-democratic tendencies. He expressed his wish for more active support in this direction by the Siemens management than there is at the moment.
Mr. Barciuc, the CEO of Siemens Romania, gave information on Romania and the Siemens business in Romania. Siemens started its activities in Romania in 1905 and restarted after the “socialist” era in 1990.
Mrs. Wiese informed the SEC delegates about the current business situation of the company, which is generally good. She criticized, that the growth of the employment of women, especially in the field of technology, is too slow at Siemens. She explained once more to the delegates, why the management has decided to carve out the “Large Drives” business as “Innomotics”. She also talked about the Siemens activities in the field of vocational training and the importance of the “Degree” program, which is meant to support the sustainability strategy of Siemens.
The SEC delegates criticized the lack of participation and information of the employee representatives in the “Next Work” activities. They also expressed their negative expectations regarding the carve-out of Innomotics, especially for the remaining part of the motor and drives business.
Mrs. Wiese responded, that the management of Innomotics is supposed to continue its cooperation with the management of the parts of the business, which remain at Siemens DI. There will be no general job guarantees at Innomotics; this issue will be handled country by country.
Several delegates criticized the missing time for vocational training, mostly because of the work overload of the employees, but also because of cost cutting measures. Mrs. Wiese expressed her hope for a normalization of the workload after having coped with the current crises.
Harald Kern demanded a centralized financing of the vocational training measures at Siemens instead of putting the load on the single businesses. Bettina Haller (Germany; Vice President of the SEC) explained, that it is very important for all SEC delegates to also address their issues in their home countries.
Mr. Oppelt explained the “Xcelerator” organisation inside Siemens. He emphasized the importance of flexibility and fast decisions. Mr. Oppelt and Mr. Paetow then guided the delegates through a workshop regarding the practice and background of the system “Xcelerator”.
Finally, the meeting was concluded by an intenal discussion of the SEC delegates. Harald Kern announced that in the future, there will be an additional day of the SEC meeting, which will be used for the training of the delegates. He also stated, that the participation of the employee representatives in the issue of “Next Work” is obviously insufficient.
Several delegates evaluated the meeting generally and also the workshop positive. But there was also criticism about the inadequate answers of Mrs. Wiese regarding the work overload of the employees and the necessity for a strategy to recruit more workforce.
*Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia. Delegates from UK, one delegate from France and one delegate from Czech Republic were missing.
(Report: Dirk Linder)