The surprise was great when the American company Caterpillar Inc. announced the completion of its locations in Kiel, Rostock and Henstedt-Ulzburg. Previously, it was decided to discontinue production of the so-called MSE engines by the end of this year. The company only wanted to continue the aftermarket, which is the financially profitable maintenance of these engines. Only 200 of the 930 jobs should remain. Resistance quickly developed in Kiel. Pressure from the city, state and IG Metall – with success. At today’s factory meeting, the management board, the works council and IG Metall informed employees of the Caterpillar engine factories in Kiel and Henstedt-Ulzburg and the foundry in Kiel about the results of the negotiations with the American company.
Saving multiple jobs
“The aim was to offer the employees as many perspectives as possible,” explains Stephanie Schmoliner from IG Metall Kiel-Neumünster. It was important to keep as many jobs as possible. It seems to have worked. “A third of the employees may still work for Caterpillar, another third may work for the new investor and move the business. The remaining third have a well-funded welfare plan with at least twelve months in the transfer company, said Stephanie Schmolinera. In the past, the American group has invested, among other things, in the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly marine engines in northern Germany. Caterpillar is considered a traditional company with long roots in northern Germany.
“It has not been an easy journey until now, but the job has paid off,” says Thomas Stark, chairman of the works council at the Kiel engine plant. The chairman of the works council of the Kiel foundry, Günter Ernst, adds: “We managed to avoid disaster and create the greatest possible security for the future.” Everyone has clarity through the reconciliation of interests, the social plan and the collective bargaining agreement.
The mayor is relieved
The mayor of Kiel, Ulf Kampfer (SPD) is at least partially satisfied: “After months of uncertainty and uncertainty, it is now becoming clear that there is a prospect for many of the Caterpillar employees in the Kiel location. The consequences for those workers who lose their jobs could at least slightly soften social plan agreements and the reconciliation of interests. According to Kampfer, there are still good opportunities for skilled workers in the Kiel region. “We are in close contact with the works council, the trade union and the company and are working together to create new jobs at the Friedrichsort site as well.”
State Secretary for Economic Affairs Thilo Rohlfs spoke of good news for Schleswig-Holstein as an industrial location. “I am relieved and very happy,” said Rohlfs in an interview with NDR Schleswig-Holstein. The work behind the scenes was worth it.
Investor still unknown
It is not known yet who will be the new investor, as negotiations are still ongoing. From the IG Metall Kiel-Neumünster point of view, it was important not to give up and fight together. “We are also sure that we will find other investors to hire additional staff,” said Stephanie Schmoliner.