There has been an angry response from German politicians to Nokia’s decision to close its handset assembly plant at Bochum and move production to Romania and Hungary.
There will be a loss of 2,300 jobs and the local state premier Jurgen Ruttgers wants an investigation into whether Nokia took unfair advantage of subsidies: “It is inconceivable that they receive 60 million euros in state subsidies and between 23 and 28 million from the German government in research aid, and then as soon as they are legally able to they say – OK thank you, we’re off somewhere else.”
Nokia got the subsidies in exchange for guaranteeing jobs in Bochum until September 2006 and said it has met all its obligations.
In Bochum people are disgusted with what has happened. One resident said: “If Nokia now goes to Romania or Hungary, perhaps it’s going to get European subsidies for moving there and that’s the last straw! Then, if production there is too expensive for them, one day, perhaps they’ll go to the North Pole, and then the penguins can make their things.”
Nokia said it has not received any European Union subsidies in moving production to Romania and Hungary but has registered for financial support from the Hungarian government.
When Nokia goes later this year it will mean the end to mobile phone manufacturing in Germany. In just over a year 6,000 jobs have been lost in the industry with production there being halted by Motorola and BenQ, which took over Siemens’ mobile division.