Siemens hopes to avoid outright job cuts

German engineering conglomerate Siemens will try to avoid forced redundancies as it seeks to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, chief executive Peter Löscher said on Thursday.

“We will try and make this as socially acceptable as possible,” Löscher told the daily Die Welt.

In addition to leaving posts vacant as workers retire, the group has in the past sought positions for workers in companies it works with. Sources told Die Welt that internal training programmes were another possibility. Löscher has already announced that Siemens will seek to cut €1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) from administrative costs by 2010 and implied that posts would be eliminated.

The German trade union IG Metall fears Siemens will cut 10,000 jobs worldwide, while some analysts have put the figure closer to 20,000. Sources close to the matter quoted by German media have said Siemens could eliminate around 15,000 jobs, essentially administrative and management posts.

Of that number, 3,000-4,000 would be lost in Germany, a personnel representative was quoted as saying by Die Welt.

“I think however that there will be no outright redundancies,” the unidentified source said.

With a meeting between Siemens directors and personnel representatives scheduled in early July, an announcement could be made in the coming days, the newspaper said.

The German conglomerate is carrying out a broad revamp of its operations and already announced 3,800 jobs cuts at its SEN telecommunications systems unit and 1,000 posts at Osram, its lighting systems division.

Siemens manufactures products from light bulbs to power stations and trains, employs around 413,000 people and is present in some 190 countries.