IG Metall raises the alarm and the company tries to calm things down. According to the union and the works council, Siemens Energy wants to relocate “more than 400 jobs” from the switchgear in Berlin to China and Mexico. “Up to 400 jobs” are up for grabs, the company said. The exact number and the modalities of the dismantling will be negotiated with the works council in the coming weeks. There should be no redundancies. Siemens Energy, which was split off from Siemens almost two years ago and taken public, has two large locations in Berlin: the switchgear in Siemensstadt with around 1800 employees and the gas turbine plant in Moabit with almost 3500 employees.
After a long dispute with the employee representatives, it was decided in late summer 2021 to relocate housing production for the turbines from Berlin to Hungary. This affects 500 employees. In return, the group management agreed to locate a large part of the hydrogen business (electrolyser production) in Berlin. In addition to the expenses for the new headquarters in Huttenstrasse and a training center, around 130 million euros would be invested in Moabit.
At the end of last year, the group then announced that it wanted to invest 60 million euros in a new production facility for vacuum interrupters in the Berlin switchgear. The tubes are the technological heart of the “Blue Portfolio”, which includes climate-neutral power transmission products in the high-voltage range and does not use gases that are extremely harmful to the climate . The new production facility is currently being set up. According to the works council chairman, Rüdiger Groß, 250 people are already working in this area, and there could be 900 in the future. Irrespective of this, the group wants to relocate the “old” switchgear as quickly as possible. “The competitive pressure in conventional switchgear is extremely high, the area is making losses,” says the group as a reason. The switchgear is more than 100 years old and thus one of the oldest locations in the group.
That was “totally unfair,” said Groß on Tuesday at a press conference with the Berlin IG Metall leadership. The management put on “one razor after the other”, four years ago the Schaltwerk had already lost more than 500 jobs. The relocation to China is “a political issue”, said the regional union boss Jan Otto and warned against dependence on China.
Among other things, the world’s first “Blue Air switchgear” is manufactured in the switchgear. “We are the only ones in the world who have mastered the new product,” said works council member Groß. The systems are free of sulfur hexafluoride and therefore climate-friendly, but also more expensive than conventional switchgear. A gas regulation is planned in the EU, which is already being implemented with Blue Air technology, but will probably not come into force until 2030. Nevertheless, according to Groß, the first systems have already been sold to Scotland and Scandinavia. According to the works council, one kilogram of sulfur hexafluoride pollutes the climate with 25,000 kilograms of CO2.