Towards the end of last month, cruise ship builder Meyer Werft reached an agreement with IG Metall Küste and the shipyard’s works council on a package to secure the shipyard location and competitiveness for the long term.
This agreement ends on 31st December, 2023. If the current situation improves significantly in the long term, e.g. through new orders, the agreement will end this year.
Part of the agreement means that the current workforce size will be adjusted to the market conditions triggered by the pandemic.
Meyer Werft admitted that it had significantly less work due to the pandemic crisis, resulting in the production hours per year decreasing massively, forcing the management to realign the company.
Initially, up to 350 shipyard employees and 100 employees of EMS Maritime Services will be affected on a voluntary basis. An increase in external services as compensation for the reduction was jointly ruled out.
“The current agreement with the works council and IG Metall is an important step towards securing the Papenburg shipyard site, even though the staff reductions are very painful. The adopted socially responsible package for the future only works on the basis of further orders for the years 2024 and 2025.
“The orders from Japan for NYK, the participation in the construction of the Navy tanker and now a new apartment ship, help to stabilise the lower utilisation of production. Otherwise we would not have been able to achieve the current result at all. But it also shows that we are continuing on the path of developing new business areas. It’s a good chance for a fresh start for co-operation with the works council and the union,” explained Managing Director, Bernard Meyer.
In a three-stage downsizing process, a voluntary programme with a transfer company will be implemented with the aim of avoiding or minimising compulsory redundancies and reducing as many jobs as possible by mutual agreement.
To safeguard competitiveness and all jobs in the long term, an employee contribution and an efficiency improvement target for production costs were agreed.
Another important component of this package was a planned continuous increase in productivity and an employee contribution. The employee contribution of 100 hours per year can be attained by working overtime or waiving special payments. For employees of EMS Maritime Services this amounts to 25 hours per year.
Ems Maritime’s industrial service will be dissolved; where possible, employees will be deployed in other production areas and companies within the Group.
The shipyard’s management, the works council and IG Metall have agreed on the introduction of an effective two-shift model in production and production-related areas. Previously, existing shift arrangements in production areas had remained unaffected. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out separately.
“Now we are fully focused on the transformation of the Group, further digitalisation and on developing climate-neutral solutions for our ships and maritime applications as quickly as possible,” added Jan Meyer, Managing Director.
This will require further innovative new ship projects, the company said.
Without the recent individual orders from NYK, Ocean Residences, as well as the participation in the naval tanker order for Neptun Werft, securing the remaining jobs would be even more difficult, Meyer Werft admitted.