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Job cuts could boost populists, German minister tells Siemens

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Job cuts could boost populists, German minister tells Siemens

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s economics minister urged Siemens AG <SIEGn.DE> on Friday to rethink planned job cuts, warning that job losses, particularly in economically weaker areas of the former East Germany, could spur an increase in right-wing populism. Siemens may cut thousands of jobs as part of plans to overhaul its power and gas business, which is struggling with lower worldwide demand for large electricity generating turbines, a person familiar with the plans told Reuters last week. The minister, Brigitte Zypries, told Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser in a letter published by Bild newspaper that job losses in the former Communist east could have negative consequences. “It is particularly critical when locations in structurally weak regions – for instance in eastern Germany – are up for discussion,” she told the Siemens executive. “It can fuel discontentment and doubts and could have political fallout as we saw in the parliamentary election.” Siemens management met with labour bosses on Thursday to discuss its power turbine business but union IG Metall said no new information was provided. Siemens spokesman Philipp Encz declined to comment on the letter. He said while several proposals were under discussion with labour, no decisions had been made on any job cuts or possible plant closures. The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) stormed into parliament with nearly 13 percent of vote on Sept. 24, the first far-right party to move into the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, in over half a century. Siemens management reportedly plans to submit a restructuring plan to the company’s supervisory board on Nov. 8, the day before the group is due to publish quarterly financial results.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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