What is capital and labor conflict

"Conflict Between Capital and Labor"

The works council and trade unions want to fend off the planned drastic staff cuts at the energy supplier Bewag “with all necessary means”, it was announced at a press conference yesterday. The company's board of directors announced the day before that the 6400 jobs that are now 6400 will be reduced to 3700 by 2002/3. But this number has to be corrected down by a further 500 employees, because the board of directors also wants to outsource tasks to external companies, stated works council chairman Hermann Strobel.

The employee representatives are outraged more than once. The previous thousandfold downsizing was agreed with the board of directors, albeit “not always painless”, and “properly organized”. And until 2002 an agreement is in place that is now being broken by the board of directors. The set the target of up to 4,700 full-time jobs - 1,500 more than now planned. Strobel said that the works council was canceling another “accompaniment” of the dismantling; yesterday evening they wanted to “discuss all the measures that we have available”. At least the board has signaled willingness to talk.

At the same time, the employees do not refuse to accept that considerable losses in turnover as a result of the liberalized electricity market cost jobs. But the ideas of the board are, according to Strobel, “not capable of consensus”. It is an “unreasonable process” that the employees alone should bear the consequences.

For ÖTV Vice Country Manager Ernst-Otto Kock, Bewag is steering the redistribution of added value “towards the classic conflict between capital and labor”. While the dividends of the shareholders were increased and fixed by 140 to 250 million marks, the wage bill should decrease from 1.1 billion marks in the 1997/98 financial year to 650 million marks for 4,700 employees, the company wants to save another 200 million marks with the additional staff cuts . The state of Berlin, which sold its 50 percent stake, is also one of the losers: In 1992/93 the Senate demanded a 34 million mark concession fee, this year it is 220 million, in 2003 it should be 287 million.

According to Kock, shareholders, the Senate and Bewag employees should shoulder the burden in equal parts. That only the staff should believe in it shows the disaster in which the promises landed that went along with the privatization, which the Senate sold as a success story. The Senate has wriggled out of its responsibility to keep 8,500 jobs by 2002.

Kock also sharply criticized the executive board's “total departure” from the collective agreement, according to which external work is to be brought back into the company if staff is available. Instead, the board now wants to “buy work from someone else”. Against this “McDonaldization”, “attacking the price of labor”, one will defend oneself.

The last combat action in the Bewag was directed in September 1997 in the central heating power station against intended redundancies.

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