German suppliers move jobs east

Leverkusen, Germany. Many auto industry jobs will be moved from Germany to low-wage countries in central and eastern Europe over the next five years, a new survey predicts.

B&D Forecast says the number of auto industry workers in Germany will drop to 330,000 from 365,000, while the number in central and eastern European countries will rise to 200,000 from 130,000 workers.

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, B&D's managing director, said around half of the industrial growth in eastern and central Europe is happening at the expense of jobs in Germany.

Auto suppliers in particular are moving eastward.

ZF Friedrichshafen is planning new factories in eastern Europe. Tire maker Continental will expand production in Romania and Siemens VDO wants to establish a new plant in the Czech Republic.

German automakers will increase their workforces in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary to 80,000 by 2010 from 57,000 in 2004.

Currently, about 412,000 people work in German auto plants. Yet, by 2010 the number will fall only slightly to 410,000.

"The new BMW plant in Leipzig and the fact that Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are expanding their development centers mean that a lot of new jobs are being created in Germany," said Dudenhoeffer.

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