Nokia Rejects Bochum Employee Alternatives to Save Plant

Plans included increased automation in production

Nokia, the world's leading cell phone maker, on Feb. 12 rejected several proposals made by employees to save a plant in Bochum, Germany that the company plans to close by the middle of the year. "Employee representatives presented several alternatives for the future of the Bochum site. These included increased automation in production and a change of focus for the Bochum site," Nokia said following talks in Helsinki.

"Nokia's management concluded that the proposed alternatives were not feasible and would not meet the required efficiency targets or support Nokia's overall strategy," it said.

Nokia's decision last month to close Bochum raised howls of protest in Germany, where 2,300 jobs were expected to be lost at the plant and with local sub-contractors also expected to be hit. It said it planned to shift production to Romania where labor costs are lower. Both sides agreed "that the key focus will be to find alternative employment for Nokia's Bochum personnel in companies that are well-established and have long-term business targets," Nokia said. The two sides agreed to begin formal negotiations about the lay-offs on February 20.

Shortly after announcing the closure, Nokia posted record results for 2007, further tarnishing the group's reputation in Germany, where calls multiplied to boycott its products.

The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) has also demanded Nokia pay back 41 million euros (US$60 million) of subsidies it received for the plant. Nokia has rejected that call.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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