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01 Mar 2023, 13:13
Benjamin Wehrmann

Combustion engine’s uncertain future troubles employees at supplier Bosch

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The uncertain future of combustion engine cars is unsettling workers at German car industry supplier Bosch, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. Some 17,000 employees followed a call by the company’s works council to protest against plans to cut jobs in Bosch’s combustion engine branches. Works council head Frank Sell said employees demand a clear perspective for the future of production lines and criticised Bosch’s management for shunning direct talks with workers. The argument that electric cars and hydrogen engines require much fewer workers “is not true,” Sell said, arguing that the company should work on “a big picture” for the period after a possible EU-wide end for new combustion engine cars in 2035. Otherwise, traditional carmaker regions, such as Bosch’s hometown Stuttgart, could face long-term job losses, Sell warned. He added that EU support for industrial development should not only flow into poorer regions, for example in eastern Europe, but also help industrial core regions to remain competitive.

The company board rejected the claim that it disregards the economic prospect for its home region, arguing it would aim to retain “as many jobs as possible” in Germany, which continued to be “the backbone of our industrial competence and innovation leadership.” However, board member Filiz Albrecht told the newspaper that Bosch had to keep its costs in check to remain competitive. Globally, Bosch employs more than 400,000 people.

Bosch makes the bulk of its earnings in its mobility branch, even though technological changes and reduced global car production are putting profitability under pressure. In the face of increasingly ambitious climate targets, a phase-out of the combustion engine looks all but inevitable and is a set policy in an increasing number of countries. In addition to other forces at play in the industry, such as digitalisation and automation, this will have substantial consequences for employment – ranging from job losses to re-training and new opportunities in low-emission mobility, posing great "just transition" policy challenges.

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