Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Siemens pledges more help for BenQ Mobile employees


Siemens AG yesterday agreed to provide more help for workers at the insolvent German mobile phone unit of Taiwan's BenQ Corp (明基), but dismissed as exaggerated a labor union claim that the aid was worth 180 million euros (US$230 million).

Siemens, the Munich-based technology and engineering conglomerate, passed its ailing handset business to BenQ last year and said it expected the Taiwanese company to turn it around. However, BenQ Mobile GmbH filed for insolvency protection in September.

After German politicians and labor unions pressed it to help, Siemens established a 35-million-euro fund to support the unit's 3,000 workers and help them find new jobs.

Siemens personnel chief Juergen Radomski said yesterday that it had now also agreed to fund through next year an employment agency designed to find other work for BenQ staff. He said it would also "find ways to ease social hardship" of those still jobless in 2008.

The company didn't say how much it expected the measures would cost. However, it denied a claim from labor union IG Metall that the package was worth up to 180 million euros.

That estimate was "not at all serious and much too high," Siemens spokesman Marc Langendorf said.

He said Siemens had now pledged a total of 71 million euros and that it was unclear if it would inject more funds. Germany's Federal Labor Agency and state governments are also contributing, he said.

IG Metall said BenQ workers would continue to receive their wages through next year. Workers who find a new job before then will receive a one-off payment of 24,000 euros. Even those who don't will get a handout of 80 percent of their monthly wage for every year of employment.

Siemens has also agreed to open its internal job market to BenQ workers. So far, it has employed 80 former BenQ workers and is giving job interviews to another 420. It has also taken on 88 BenQ trainees.

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