Not just a matter of saving our skin

Germany 2007, 81 min, german OV with engl. subtitles, 19.90 €   B0100

»Not just a matter of saving our skins«

Bosch Siemens Home Appliances Staff Fighting against Closure of Berlin Factory

In May 2005 Bosch Siemens Home Appliances Ltd. (BSH) announced that it was going to shut down the Berlin factory at the end of 2006. Allegedly the location was too expensive and technically out-of-date. From 1050 employees of the Berlin location merely 450 were to be kept on in logistics and development. 600 employees, whose jobs became threatened, were not willing to take the transfer of production to a cheaper location lying down. They led off the fight for their jobs. In August 2005 the closing decision was suspended for a start. The group management demanded, however, drastic staff savings – lower salaries, bonus cuts, longer working hours. In the negotiations the works council, supported by the IG Metall (Industrial Union of Metal Workers), tried for a long-term safeguarding of the site. At the same time it is willing to back extensive cost savings. On September 20th, 2006 negotiations between group and staff representatives are abandoned.

The BSH staff had already convened on September 6th in an employees meeting that was going to last until September 22nd 2006 – a unique length of time for such a meeting in Germany.

On September 19th the metal union members of the staff vote with more than 94 % for official strike in the pre-strike ballot. Ensuing negotiations end with a compromise: withdrawal of the closure order and preservation of 400 jobs until 2010; an annualised salary cut of 20 per cent; no new investments into the production.

On October 20th a ballot is held on the negotiation outcome. Merely about 35 per cent of the staff votes for this compromise. Thus, according to the IG Metall statutes, the negotiation outcome is accepted and the strike called off.

Large part of the staff feels betrayed. IG Metall and large part of the media, however, rate this deal as a victory of a staff that was ready to fight.

The documentary traces the story of the labour dispute at BSH/Berlin. The multi-faceted original soundtrack is complemented by a matter-of-fact voiceover. The point is, to trace the staff’s development both, in a political and human way. In doing so, the film focuses not least on the conflict between »official« union politics and the interests and concerns of the staff.

Produktion: flex Journalistenbüro

Realisation: Holger Wegemann


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