As it held its annual general meeting, German luxury car company Daimler found itself facing not just financial pressures but also angry workers and upset environmentalists.
Green protesters criticised the fact that it makes mostly larger vehicles. One shareholder on his way into the meeting agreed. Erich Krohn said: “Daimler is making the wrong cars. It ought to buy Opel to have a range of small cars.” Also demonstrating were Daimler’s unions unhappy at plans to cut labour costs by a further two billion euros this year. They work masks of the face of Daimler’s Chief executive Dieter Zetsche and Works Council member Michael Clauss offered some suggestions as to what he would do it he were Zetsche: “I would ask the company’s shareholders to contribute more money. And I would also distribute wages and work more fairly. I would shorten working hours but without cutting wages.” Inside the meeting hall the real Dieter Zetsche was heckled by workers as he said he could not rule out lay-offs but that would be a last resort. He told the 6,000 shareholders who attended to expect a “significant” drop in revenue this year across all its divisions – cars, trucks and buses – but with “a gradual improvement in the earnings situation as the year progresses.” He also predicted there is not likely to be a turnaround in car markets before the second half of 2009 at the earliest.