Several thousand Siemens employees took to the streets of Berlin on Thursday to protest thousands of job cuts the engineering conglomerate plans mostly in its gas turbine division. Ciara Lee reports
The fallout growing by the day... and this only a fraction of the 6900 Siemens employees who stand to lose their jobs. The cuts come as rapid growth of renewables puts a squeeze on the company's power and gas division. (SOUNDBITE) (German) EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATIVE, BEATE RUPPERT, SAYING: "As a workers' representative, I have to speak with people who are 50, 55 years old who are offered a termination agreement. They are on the cliff edge." Most of the job losses will be made in Germany, forcing the issue up the national agenda in the face of potential fresh elections. Angela Merkel's efforts to forge a coalition with two smaller parties collapsed last weekend. Siemens's plan has sparked government criticism that it could encourage right-wing populism in economically weak areas. Particularly in former East Germany where two plants slated for closure are located. Merkel's opposition also wading in to the debate. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SOCIAL DEMOCRAT LEADER, MARTIN SCHULZ, SAYING: "When a company makes 6.3 billion euros in profit, there is no reason to cut jobs. It's as simple as that." Employees gathered outside a hotel in Berlin where the company's works council was holding its annual meeting. Siemens says it is calling for dialogue but that job losses are inevitable as the energy market changes. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SIEMENS BOARD MEMBER IN CHARGE OF GROUP HUMAN RESOURCES, JANINA KUGEL, SAYING: "It's a structural change which is not only affecting us, but our competitors as well. It's the market situation." For many it's less about the why, and more the way in which the cuts are being made. Labour representatives are usually involved at an early stage to find ways for workers to be re-employed or retire early. This time around, they say the announcement came out of the blue.