FRANKFURT -- Production of Mercedes-Benz cars could be hit by protests against a planned joint venture between parent company DaimlerChrysler and engineering group ThyssenKrupp, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
German business daily Handelsblatt said workers at Daimler's steering business Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen, might cut two overtime shifts next weekend to protest against the planned agreement with ThyssenKrupp, which may affect jobs.
The planned steering systems joint venture would see some of the production activities of Mercedes-Benz Lenkungen, which has 1,100 employees, move to Schoenebeck near Magdeburg in eastern Germany from Duesseldorf, a repesentative from the IG Metall engineering union said Monday.
That could affect about 350 jobs, but it was unclear whether jobs would be lost.
A spokeswoman for works council chief Erich Klemm confirmed that talks between the management and the workers were in progress and said the council hoped to avoid industrial action.
A DaimlerChrysler spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report or on the joint venture.
However, a strike at Lenkungen could affect production of Mercedes vehicles, which are supplied with steering systems from the unit. Handelsblatt reported that two or three fewer shifts would mean 10 to 15 percent fewer cars would be built.
The planned deal would give Thyssen a 60 percent stake in the joint venture and an option to buy out the remaining Daimler stake in 2005.
The deal underlines the trend of outsourcing of parts manufacturing to suppliers, who in turn need more business to offset a squeeze by manufacturers who are demanding lower prices. Thyssen has been wanting to expand its automotive parts business.