Schefenacker transfers production to eastern Europe

Esslingen, Germany. German supplier Schefenacker plans to fire 580 of its 1,600 employees in Germany, as the company moves more production to eastern Europe.

Rolf Ritter, who heads production at the automotive supplier, said the redundancies will take effect between summer 2005 and summer 2006.

The Geislingen plant will be hit worst by the redundancy wave. The plant will be closed by the end of 2006, resulting in the loss of 370 jobs.

At the company's Schwaikheim facility, 140 staff will be laid off. Another 70 will lose their jobs at Schefenacker's Oberrot plant.

Administration and development will be moved to a cheaper location near Stuttgart from headquarters in Esslingen.

Ritter said the production of taillights will be moved to low-wage countries such as Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro or Romania. A decision over the new location will be made within the next few days, he said.

High-quality taillights will continue to be produced in Schwaikheim, the supplier said. However, Juan Rodriguez, chairman of the plant's works council, expects more jobs will be lost.

"This is probably only a first wave," he said.

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