August 17, 2012 / 7:28 PM / in 5 years

Germany's Bosch plans to shorten work hours due to slack demand

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German industrial group Robert Bosch GmbH ROBG.UL is in talks with workers at its engineering unit, Bosch-Rexroth, to cut their work hours in response to weakening demand from industrial customers, a company spokesman said on Friday.

Bosch-Rexroth is one of the world’s leading producers of drives, valves and control technologies, which are used in machine cutting tools and in the automotive and wind energy sectors.

Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper, quoting labor sources, said shorter hours at the Bosch-Rexroth factory in Schweinfurt, Germany, might be implemented in October, initially affecting 450 to 500 workers. By year-end, 1,100 workers may be affected, the newspaper reported in its Saturday edition.

The Bosch spokesman said customers in the automotive industry were placing fewer orders for diesel systems, slowing down production at plants in Homburg, Stuttgart-Feuerbach and Bamberg.

But these plants are not considering launching a short-work program because workers could reduce their hours by using up vacations and time off accrued from working overtime, the spokesman added.

Automotive component supplier ZF Friedrichshafen ZFF.UL is also seeing the first signs of slowing demand. A spokesman for ZF said orders and production at its commercial vehicle business were easing, but plant usage at its passenger car operations was still good.

He said ZF had no plans to launch a short-work program but was still using up accrued time off and vacations.

Reporting By Hendrik Sachmann and Hans Seidenstuecker; Writing by Marilyn Gerlach; editing by John Wallace

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