Pay cuts and reduced working hours spark anger on streets of Berlin
9 April 2009

Daimler employees have taken to the streets of Berlin to protest about pay and short-time working, after the company warned of more cost-cutting measures.

Workers wearing cardboard masks of chief executive Dieter Zetsche's face carried collection boxes as they protested against pay cuts of up to 14 per cent for the company's 73,000 white-collar staff. They are also being asked to reduce their working week by up to five hours.

The measures were outlined last week to save €2 billion (£1.8 billion) in personnel costs. Daimler has not announced any redundancies.

The car maker has also put 50,000 factory workers in automotive production on shorter working hours, and plans the same for another 18,000 commercial vehicle workers after Easter.

Zetsche has already warned of more pain to come, however. He said Daimler was poised to take "all the required measures" after predicting a "significant" drop in revenues in all its automotive divisions this year.

"In 2009 the global economy will shrink for the first time since World War Two," he said. "The automotive industry didn't cause this crisis, but is feeling the full brunt of its impact and suppliers and dealers are suffering just as much as manufacturers. Ultimately, nobody will go unscathed."

At a meeting of shareholders, Zetsche outlined that Daimler's global sales had fallen 23 per cent in the first three months of the year. The group sold 244,800 cars, compared with 318,000 a year ago.

He added that Daimler executives have taken pay cuts of nearly 30 per cent, and said that business travel and consultancy fees have also been reduced.

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