SPD boss rejects criticism from unions

The unions are angry because the Social Democrats did not want to support a purchase bonus for internal combustion engines. The SPD chairman Walter-Borjans counters: The party does not neglect industrial workers.

Production in a VW plant in Portugal

NAfter several union representatives accused the SPD of not having done enough for the auto industry in the negotiations for the economic stimulus package, the SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans has now sharply rejected this criticism. “To claim that the SPD neglects the industrial workforce and has not taken notice of the objections of the workforce in vehicle construction is not in order with regard to this economic stimulus package, which is also jam-packed in terms of industrial policy,” said Walter-Borjans of the FAZ To obey the “symbolic demand of the auto industry”, which many experts questioned. “One thing is clear: the SPD has so far put the interests of the workforce at the top of the agenda in every coalition committee. It was the same last time. And you can see that in the stimulus package. “

Previously, several union representatives had harshly criticized the SPD for its course. “You also have to look at the industry and the workers if you want to keep the AfD small,” said the chairman of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), Reiner Hoffmann, of the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” at the address of the SPD.

The Chairman of the Daimler General Works Council, Michael Brecht, accused the party leadership of not listening, but answering questions that had not even been asked. “The balanced middle is missing,” said Brecht of “Welt am Sonntag”. So the SPD could not hold up as a people’s party. Brecht described the course of the party leadership as “left-wing populist”. He wondered who among those working in the auto industry should vote for the Social Democrats.

“Use record profits from past years”

Walter-Borjans also denied the allegation that he did not talk sufficiently to the union representatives. “I was and am in regular direct discussions with the DGB chairman Reiner Hoffmann and with the heads of IG Metall, but also with the other unions. We will continue to do so. ”By no means all would see a car purchase bonus“ as the be-all and end-all of a goal-oriented industrial policy ”. “Nevertheless, I do not question the fact that vehicle construction is the key industry in Germany.” However, it is not okay for car companies to worry their workforce because they see the preservation of jobs in a direct connection with subsidizing the purchase price Taxpayers set. “I’ll stick to it: If the German car manufacturers expect additional sales from a purchase bonus, then they should use part of their record profits from the past few years.”

The SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans
The SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans: Image: dpa

The federal government had decided not to stimulate the purchase of cars with internal combustion engines with a premium. Large parts of the CDU also doubt the usefulness of such a bonus. The Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), on the other hand, called it “strange” when “professional politicians” did not know that 80 percent of the added value in the automotive industry is generated by suppliers and service providers and not by the vehicle manufacturers themselves.

In the first four months of this year, orders from the automotive industry fell by 32 percent due to the Corona crisis; domestic demand collapsed by 70 percent in April. In 2019, the share of e-cars that are further subsidized by the economic stimulus package was three percent among new registrations.

Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) sees no break between the trade unions and the SPD despite the dispute. “My cooperation with the trade unions works constructively and trustingly and is fundamentally unshakable,” he told the newspaper “Augsburger Allgemeine”. DGB boss Hoffmann also said that one could not speak of a fundamental conflict.

The district manager of IG Metall in Baden-Württemberg, Roman Zitzelsberger, however, spoke of “serious trouble” in the union districts and in the works councils of the automotive industry. “The SPD did not take notice of our objections,” said Zitzelsberger of “Welt am Sonntag”. But it is a mistake to believe that “one can promote the technology of tomorrow without stabilizing the here and now”.