Bosch will move to UK and Spain: Engineer aims to cut costs

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The Independent Online
BOSCH, the engineering company, is to shift its generator production to Britain and Spain to escape high costs in Germany.

The group said the switch to its plants in Cardiff and Treto was necessary 'to maintain competitiveness' and highlights a trend in German manufacturing. Production of generators and alternators is to be wound down at its main Stuttgart plant, and 1,000 jobs are to be cut there by the end of this year.

The company plans to increase the number of jobs at the new Cardiff plant - one of its most efficient - from about 600 at present to 1,200 by 1996. Given the unfavourable start to 1993, and the need to reduce turnover and earnings forecasts, Bosch said production costs 'must be brought in line with market conditions'. Last year, the company cut its workforce by 11,000 to 170,000. Three quarters of the losses occurred in Germany. Noting the need for continued rationalisation and concentration, the company said 'the shift of production abroad in certain sectors will continue'.

Specialising in the manufacturing of a new generation of compact generators, the Cardiff plant was built in 1991. Labour costs in the UK are up to 50 per cent lower than in Bosch's works in Stuttgart, and the working week is 39 hours in three shifts from Monday to Sunday. This compares with a German working week of 36 hours after 1 April in two or three shifts from Monday to Friday. Bosch has also negotiated a no- strike agreement with the union in Cardiff, and the sickness quota, at 1.5 per cent, is well below the British average of around 7 per cent, which is below German levels.

Bosch's plant at Cardiff was singled out for high praise recently by a delegation of German businessmen. The report by the Federation of German Industry spoke of the strong motivation of Bosch's workforce in Cardiff and flexibility unknown in Germany.