Mercedes is doubling production of electric drive units at its Stuttgart-Untertürkheim plant. How a massive expansion affects workers’ hours and earnings.
Mercedes invested in the factory Unterturkheim area massive electromobility. The investment is also due to the fact that the group has previously agreed on working hours and qualification measures with the labor council. What does this mean for Mercedes employees? The most important questions and answers at a glance.
What is changing for Untertürkheim workers in production? The group and works council informed workers on Monday of the doubling of production in the field of electric drive units. Many employees were surprised at how much the works council accommodated the company: “During the meeting, I showed them a blank piece of paper,” says Michael Häberle, head of the works council at the Untertürkheim facility. Häberle’s gesture was to make it clear that there were no concessions. “The workforce has nothing to give for it.”
What about working hours and shifts specifically? Mercedes wants to make the production of new electric drives as efficient as possible. Therefore, the group reached an agreement with the works council that workers in this area will have Saturday work. “We have defined Saturdays as mandatory Saturdays,” says Frank Deiß, head of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim. More precisely, we are talking about 19 Saturdays a year. Mercedes is testing the following model: There is no individual commitment to a certain number of Saturday shifts – the collective must reach the required number. In the group, individual employees can work more on Saturdays, others – less often and agree on this among themselves.
Has the payment changed? The collective agreement of the metal and electrical industry, which IG Metall negotiated with the employers, applies to the core workforce at the Untertürkheim plant. This collective agreement also applies to workers who produce electric drives. This includes, for example, bonuses for working on Saturdays or night shifts.
What are the qualifications of the staff? The Untertürkheim plant is running an extensive employee qualification and retraining program as part of the transition from internal combustion engines to electric drives. “This is necessary because it makes a difference whether I’m installing the engine or the gearbox,” says Deiß.
What are the factory workers preparing for? Mercedes employees are already working at the company that produces the new systems for Untertürkheim. There they are ready for change. In the next step, so-called start-up factories are being built in Untertürkheim, which simulate the production process before the actual start. “The employees here go through the procedures step by step and are qualified,” says Häberle.
When exactly does new production start? The new assembly lines at the Untertürkheim factory premises and the Bad Cannstadt factory will start next year. In the future, the Untertürkheim and Hedelfingen and Esslingen-Mettingen plant sections will manufacture and supply power unit parts. Production is planned to increase from 2024. According to factory manager Deiß, full production capacity should be reached in three to four years: one million gears per year.
What is the current capacity utilization of the Untertiurkheim plant? Deiß says the factory in Untertürkheim is changing at a “dramatic speed” to accommodate more e. mobility. “But the internal combustion engine isn’t dead yet, it will ensure that we are well utilized in the factory for some time to come.” This benefits the workforce on site, Häberle says. Currently, the transition to electric drives and the production of internal combustion engines are taking place in parallel. “We have a broad base and we work like never before.
Will the shift to electromobility also result in job losses? Around 16,000 employees currently produce engines, batteries, axles, transmissions and components at the Untertürkheim plant. A large part of the group’s research and development, which employs around 3,000 people, is also located on the site, which includes a test track…