Trade unions slam Sulzer job losses

A Sulzer turbine production unit where jobs were already lost last year. Keystone / Walter Bieri

Trade unions have condemned major changes at the Swiss industrial group, Sulzer, which will result in 300 job losses, half of them in Switzerland.

This content was published on September 18, 2000 - 19:08

The metal and watch-workers union said Sulzer's announcement on Monday threatened thousands of jobs. It said the employees would not simply accept the move.

The union accused the company of continuing a policy of pandering to shareholder values, which it said had already led to 2,000 job losses last year.

Another union, representing engineering workers, described Sulzer's move as a declaration of bankruptcy as far as industry in Switzerland was concerned.

Sulzer, which is based in Winterthur, said it would seek agreeement with employees' representatives about the terms of the job losses.

The company is selling off five, mainly technological divisions, and will concentrate on medical devices, and surface and materials technology. These fields, the company said, offered potential for high growth and profitablility.

The restructuring will see the company merge with the medical group, Sulzer Medica, already 74 per cent owned by Sulzer.

The management said the move would eliminate the group's complicated and costly dual structure. The merger is due to be completed by the end of the year.

As part of its plan, Sulzer is to sell off its infra, pumps, textile, turbo and Burckhardt divisions. It said first discussions with potential buyers had already taken place.

In addition, there will be more than SFr2 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of acquisitions over the next two years.

Expansion is to concentrate on Sulzer Medica, Sulzer Metco, Sulzer Chemtech and Sulzer Turbo machinery services. The company aims to double their joint turnover of SFr2.2 billion in the next two years.

Sulzer had 1999 sales of SFr5.5 billion, while turnover for Sulzer Medica was SFr1.2 billion.

Sulzer Medica shares rose sharply after the announcement but fell back later.

swissinfo with agencies

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