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Concern about austerity measures at engine manufacturers: “If we can no longer deliver, there will be no more tanks”


There is unrest at Rolls-Royce Power Systems on Lake Constance: Important investments could suffer under the new CEO in Great Britain. The works council is already warning of the consequences for the German armaments industry.

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German Leopard battle tanks during a military exercise: »Key technology in the military sector«

Photo: Patrik Stollarz / AFP

At Rolls-Royce Power Systems on Lake Constance, people are familiar with power packs.

Huge engines for ships, special vehicles for mining - and last but not least for tanks like the Leopard I, Leopard II, Puma or the Panzerhaubitze 2000 are made here.

The plant is now concerned about a very different powerhouse.

It's about the new boss of the troubled parent company Rolls-Royce in London, Tufan Erginbilgic.

The fear: Important investments threatened to fail under him, Erginbilgic could squeeze the German subsidiary in order to survive.

After the change in management on January 1st, the workforce worried about the future viability of engine production at the site - and thus also about important German armaments projects.

Thousands of employees of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, whose engines are world-renowned under the MTU brand, came together in the morning for a works meeting.

An austerity course and a hiring freeze are in the room in order to be able to squeeze as much as possible for the British parent company, said works council chief Thomas Bittelmeyer.

Transfers are already prohibited.

"We have a key technology in the military sector and are now dependent on decisions by a company from a non-EU country when it comes to investments," Bittelmeyer told SPIEGEL.

And: "If we can no longer deliver, there will be no more tanks."

The background to the unrest is a video speech by the new boss to the workforce last week.

In it, Erginbilgic called the group a "burning platform" that is heading towards a possible end without taking any action, said works council chief Bittelmeyer.

A savings and efficiency course should be taken.

The company denies this.

Company wants to become more profitable

There is a fear of saving in Friedrichshafen, although business is going well at the German Rolls-Royce subsidiary.

Last year, Rolls-Royce Power Systems had a turnover of almost 3.2 billion euros.

The so-called government business, which also includes tank engine production, accounted for nine percent of total sales in 2021.

According to Bittelmeyer, if important investments are not made, there is a risk of another backlog of orders.

The situation is already tense with a view to repeat orders – for example by the Bundeswehr.

The order books are full, "we're sold out until 2024," said the head of the works council.

Instead of simply producing more tank engines instead of ship engines, this is not technically possible without further ado.

Just a few days ago, the new Federal Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, said he wanted to start "short-term talks with the arms industry."

So, alongside companies like Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, will Rolls-Royce Power Systems soon be on the SPD politician's list of contacts?

In any case, the engine manufacturer itself denies tough austerity measures in its company.

"There is no hiring freeze," said a company spokesman.

The company spokesman said that the company was consistently working off the huge incoming orders and was in a solid financial position.

He emphasized: "We will continue to be a reliable partner of the federal government, and we will deliver."

But the spokesman also said: “One of the first results of the current business reviews is that we have to become more profitable.” These are completely normal processes.

»We will continue to hire employees where it serves profitable growth.«

The parent company Rolls-Royce, which specializes in the propulsion of wide-body aircraft, got into financial difficulties, especially in the wake of the corona pandemic.


Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2023-01-30

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