Deutsche Bahn: Savings plans cause unrest

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Dusseldorf Railway chief Richard Lutz’s plans to save personnel costs of more than two billion euros due to the consequences of the corona crisis are causing concern. On Monday, group works council chief Jens Schwarz said the demand “for concessions from the employees is the wrong signal, unsolidarity and misjudges the performance of the employees”.

The railroad workers have been securing mobility and logistics for weeks. “It is completely incomprehensible to us that they of all people should contribute their own share,” says Schwarz.

A week ago, Deutsche Bahn and the owner, Bund, agreed on a rescue package of at least eleven billion euros. Half of this is to be financed by fresh equity from the state treasury and by savings measures by the railway itself, as well as a higher level of debt. According to this, a good two billion euros are to be raised in four years by reducing personnel costs.

How the program will look like will be developed in the coming weeks, CEO Lutz told the 180 executives of the group in an internal webcast. Up until now, job savings have only been mentioned to a lesser extent in Group administration. Lutz also apparently wants to stick to hiring another 25,000 new railroad workers this year. However, he calls for a “contribution” from the workers to be negotiated.

At the weekend, the managing director of the EVG railway workers’ union, Klaus Hommel, warned of a “dramatic job cuts”. “The implementation of the agreement between the group and the federal government means in plain language: Reduction of well over 10,000 jobs at Deutsche Bahn throughout Germany”, the EVG official was quoted by the “Bild am Sonntag”. The railway did not comment on this.

The trade unionists received support from the budgetary spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Sven-Christian Kindler. “The railways cannot generate half of the costs of at least four billion euros on their own, without massively saving on staff, reducing the supply, cutting investments and suffering quality,” said Kindler. “With this strategy, Andreas Scheuer and Olaf Scholz are putting Deutsche Bahn on the siding.”

Bahn boss Lutz must save at least four billion euros, if the recovery in rail traffic starts even later than expected, even five billion euros, as a contribution of the state-owned company. Half of it should be brought in through material costs. Remaining between two and 2.5 billion euros costs from the personnel area.

Savings should only take effect later

In leadership circles of the railway insurance is not thought of massive job cuts. The only thing that is already clear to a large extent is the largely absent bonuses for the board and several thousand employees of the railway. This alone should save 150 to 180 million euros in 2020.

CEO Lutz has, however, said goodbye to the idea of ​​prescribing the savings targets from the Group board. This centralization had caused great trouble in the rail organization in recent years. At the distressed freight transport subsidiary DB Cargo, she had even been held responsible for the economic failure.

Now Lutz said to his executives: “We will not act simply, effectively, cruelly as before, but it will be about innovative, intelligent and smart solutions. I have to disappoint those who have been waiting for centralized expenditure control. ”The logic of making decisions where the competencies lie has been the recipe for success in recent weeks.

In addition, Lutz and his six colleagues on the Group Executive Board are likely to make savings less effective when traffic has slowly recovered. However, the board of directors does not expect this until 2022. Up to 90 percent of passengers failed to arrive in long-distance transport, and around 30 percent of orders were lost in freight transport. All corporate divisions except the logistics subsidiary Schenker are in the red.

If it were up to the current economic situation, 85 percent of the savings would have to be realized this year and next, Lutz told his executives. That would only be possible through a rigid control of expenditure and investments. “We don’t want that. That is why we have set ourselves a longer period for countermeasures, so that there is also space for intelligent and long-term solutions. “

Green budget politicians children remain skeptical about the consequences of the austerity measures. “On the one hand, it is not possible, on the one hand, to properly oblige Deutsche Bahn to maintain long-distance transport throughout the corona crisis and, on the other hand, to impose a heavy savings program on it. We need a strong, high-performance railway for the turnaround in traffic and climate protection and none that can be saved – we had that long enough. ”

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