Haldex Heidelberg staff urges management to reconsider the closure
It was back in October of 2019 that Haldex announced that it was streamlining its production in Europe, a decision that would see the move of production from Heidelberg in Germany to Szentlörincskáta in Hungary.
Haldex stated that the Group’s European region had not managed to increase the profitability to a level that met expectations. The company also pointed to the expected economic downturn and the cost level in Germany as factors that led to the decision which would ultimately lead to the factory in being shut down. In total, 100 people will be affected by the shutdown. Out of these, 17 employees will remain at Haldex since they possess regional and global positions located in Germany. Fast-forward to January 2020 and the Staff Works council of Haldex GmbH Heidelberg publishes an open letter to Helene Svahn, President & CEO Haldex and all members of the management group, in which they state that the decision to close the Heidelberg plant would result in unbearable social effects for the employees and that it is also the completely wrong decision for the Haldex group. The letter states that on January 15, 2020 an expert report, commissioned by the Staff Works council, was handed over to the representatives of Haldex. According to the Staff Works council the report provides detailed evidence of the non-existent cost-effectiveness of the proposed closure, combined with an alternative concept. “Only a day later, however, responsible board members rejected this in a written notice. That's why we get in contact with you all again as the leaders of the Haldex group with this open letter,” the letter reads. As stated earlier, Haldex wrote in a press release in October that the group’s European region “had not managed to increase profitability to a level that meets the expectations”, this is something that the Staff Works council contests in the letter. “In the past years at the plant in Heidelberg we got positive results and margins, with just these 100 employees. With the implementation of this decision to close the positive Heidelberg plant, the overall situation will become worse for Haldex Europe. The decision against Heidelberg will have a negative influence to the other inner European plants.” The Staff Works council also claims in the letter, citing statements from colleagues in Hungary, that the facility in Szentlörincskáta is too small to handle the move of all the lines from Heidelberg and still continue production in an orderly manner. “In Hungary they always have obstacles with fluctuation, problems and lack of knowledge, so that they need three times more works to get the same output. Due to this by far reduced productivity the advantages of the lower salary (according to the management in a ratio of 1 to 4) will be eliminated,” the letter continues. The staff of the Heidelberg plant are therefore pleading for an alternative solution. According to the letter, the best way to get the plant back to its former knowhow and capacity base – is to improve the R&D of the facility (which was significantly reduced and transferred to Mira/UK in 2015). The letter also argues that remaining in Germany would benefit the relationships with important customers within the truck industry, such as Daimler and others. Evertiq reached out to Haldex for a comment on the contents of the letter. “The Board and management are carefully preparing a reply to the letter sent by the Staff Works Council of Haldex GmbH Heidelberg that will be sent early next week. As of now I would like to express that we appreciate the effort taken by the employees as it shows their commitment to Haldex. Although we don’t share the described situation and we will give this feedback to the local Works Council. We fully understand the personal hardship this decision means to our employees and it is unfortunate for those affected. It is the responsibility of the board and the management to shape a sustainable strategy for the whole group and act accordingly to build a strong and profitable company, especially in a time of industrial transformation”, says Helene Svahn in an emailed statement to Evertiq.