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Threatened strike has suppliers thinking crisis

Berlin. An impending metal workers strike in eastern Germany has called crisis managers of the supplier industry into action. The industry is already working on worst-case scenarios to avoid supply shortages.

The car industry is targeted by the IG Metall union in early July. This week, the first strike ballot will be held in car production plants in Saxony. If more than two thirds of voters advocate the strike, both car manufacturers and suppliers will have to brace themselves for walkouts, said Bernd Kruppa of IG Metall Berlin Brandenburg in an interview with Automobilwoche.

Saxon supplier GKN is already inundated with requests from manufacturers who want to stockpile parts in advance, said Karl-Heinz Lorenz, deputy head of the workers' council.

"We are already manufacturing well in advance, but there are a lot of requests that we simply cannot satisfy."

In other provinces, too, suppliers are preparing for strikes. The gearbox manufacturer ZF in Brandburg is producing "as far as possible" in advance, said spokesman Martin Demel.

In case of emergency, other ZF plants could get involved, but "the longer the strike goes on, the less we can guarantee our ability to compensate for supply shortfalls."

At ThyssenKrupp in Eisenach, an "action plan" has been established. According to a spokesman, advance production is a focal point. Interim storage at the plant is under consideration despite the additional cost. If the strike should last longer than four weeks, tools and parts production would be moved to a plant in North-Rhine-Westphalia.

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