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And We Have Bochum Episode IV: The Other Side

February 28, 2008 in Wireless Industry News

As far as most people know about the Bochum “episode,” it involved Nokia, a factory, and a lot of angry workers. (and then Nokia opened up a plant in neighboring Romania) We’ve heard Nokia’s side, who claims that Bochum’s labor costs were too high to keep it operating.

Nokia's Soon-to-be-Demolished Bochum plant

Formerly the Nokia Bochum plant

And now some food for thought from the other side (not by me):

Nokia violates the EWC directive, its own company standards and disinformed the employee representatives – On Tuesday 15th January, Nokia announced its plans to close its manufacturing plant in Bochum, Germany, in June 2008. Around 2300 Nokia employees, 1000 temporary workers and 1000 workers in supplier companies would be affected by the plant closure. Just one hour before the public was informed, the news was broken to employee representatives on the Nokia Euro Forum (European works council of Nokia) and on the German works council. During a regular Euro Forum meeting back in November 2007, Nokia had reassured its employee representatives that neither plant closures nor redundancies were scheduled in connection with the new manufacturing plant in Cluj, Romania.

This is not the first time that Nokia has violated its duty to inform and consult the European works council and the national employee representatives. On several occasions, employees and their representatives were informed of important structural changes only minutes before the press was made aware.

Nokia’s way of acting and its method of dealing with its employees are in total contradiction to the image and philosophy it conveys to the public. What Nokia is doing now does not correspond to its claim to be a ‘socially orientated’ company and how can it justify having a ‘sense of responsibility’, as stated on its website?

The Bochum plant is highly profitable – Nokia management argues that manufacturing in Bochum is no longer competitive, which would suggest that the Bochum site is responsible for deficits. The opposite is true. The Bochum site is highly productive and in 2007 the site made a return on invests of 15%. In 2007 the whole company made a record profit of 7.2 Billion €. A company under economic pressure appears quite different.

All manufacturing plants and employees may be affected by the new Nokia business strategy – Maybe the closure plans form part of a long-term strategic change? Nokia management sees the company’s future as an internet and software company and believes manufacturing mobile phones is no longer the core business. In the medium term, this new strategy affects all manufacturing sites and employees. Bochum is just the starting point. From an economic powerhouse with a self-perception of being a socially responsible company another way to implement a change of strategy that affects thousands of employees can be expected.

The way Nokia undertook its duty to inform and consult the employees and their elected representatives is totally unacceptable. Nokia did not act in accordance with the European works council directive and national codetermination rules. By the way, these rules are usually only unsatisfactory minimum standards, so it is incredible that a company with a philosophy like Nokia’s should even violate these rules. Responsible and fair internal company interaction would be beneficial to all employees and to the company.

Thanks to Martin for sending this in.



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