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MikeT

Strike at Hambach!

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Friday, there was a strike at the Hambach smart factory; pickets, on strike for pay and issues around temporary workers, blocked the access for wheel deliveries, effectively shutting production down. Labour and management are in talks about a new contract at the moment.Bad timing for Canada and the USA!

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HAMBACH (Moselle), 5 oct 2007 (AFP) - 14h48 L'usine smart de Hambach (Moselle) complètement bloquée par les grévistes L'accès à l'usine Smart de Hambach (Moselle) était complètement bloqué vendredi par des ouvriers grévistes, ralentissant le montage de la Smart ForTwo, la nouvelle petite voiture produite par la firme, a-t-on appris de source syndicale. Des discussions étaient en cours entre direction et syndicats, dont l'issue doit déterminer d'une éventuelle poursuite du mouvement de grève. "On ne bloque pas les voitures, mais seulement les camions qui apportent les roues. Parce que sans roue, aucune voiture n'est produite. A partir d'aujourd'hui, il n'y a plus de volume", a expliqué à l'AFP Abdelhamid Ghermi, délégué syndical CGT. Une centaine de voitures sont toutefois sorties des chaînes vendredi, produites par des CDD et interimaires, selon le syndicaliste. "Mais maintenant, il n'y a plus de roues. Plus ils retardent (un accord avec les syndicats, Ndlr), plus ils bloquent la production", a estimé M. Ghermi. "Nous, on est prêts à travailler, mais dans de bonnes conditions", a-t-il poursuivi. Des palettes de bois ont été posées des deux côtés de la chaussée menant à l'usine, retirées au passage des véhicules des salariés de l'usine Smart et des autres entreprises du site. Un cadre qui, selon les syndicats, avait forcé le passage le matin, l'a à nouveau fait vers 14h00, a constaté un journaliste de l'AFP. Le blocage du site a également causé le stationnement sauvage sur les bas-côtés de centaines de véhicules des salariés travaillant dans la zone. Jeudi, environ 270 des 400 ouvriers affectés à la production avaient cessé le travail et ont été rejoints par "quelques" cadres et employés de bureau, pour réclamer des augmentations de salaires nets de 110 à 150 euros par mois alors que la direction a proposé 40 euros bruts. Les syndicats demandent en outre l'embauche en CDI de 40 personnes, alors que la direction n'a envisagé que 25 embauches fermes.

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Computer translation:''HAMBACH (Moselle), 5 Oct 2007 (AFP) - 14h48 MACHINES IT smart of Hambach (Moselle) completely blocked by thestrikersThe access to the factory Smart of Hambach (Moselle) was completely blocked Friday by workers strikers, slowing down the mounting of the Smart ForTwo, the small new car produced by the firm, one has learn from union source. Discussions were in course between management and unions, of which the exit must determine of an eventual pursuit of the strike movement. "One does not block the cars, but only the trucks that bring the wheels. Because without wheel, no car is produced. From today, there is no longer any volume", explained to the afp Abdelhamid Ghermi, union delegate CGT. About one hundred cars nevertheless went out of the chains Friday, produced by FIXED-TERM CONTRACT and interimaires, according to the union one. "But now, there is no longer any wheels. More they delay (an agreement with the unions, editor's Note), more they block the production", estimated Mr. Ghermi. "We, one is ready to work, but in of good conditions", he has followed. Wood palettes were put of the two sides of the roadway taking to the factory, withdrawn to the passage of the vehicles of the employees of the factory Smart and other businesses of the site. A framework that, according to the unions, had forced the passage in the morning, has it again does towards 14h00, noted a journalist of the afp. The locking of the site equally caused the wild parking on the shoulders of hundreds of vehicles of the employees working in the zone. Thursday, about 270 of the 400 affected workers to the production had stopped the work and were rejoined by "some" frameworks and employed of office, to claim from the increases of net salaries of 110 to 150 Euros a months while the management proposed 40 crude Euros. The unions ask in addition the hiring in CDI of 40 persons, while the management envisioned only 25 firm hirings.''Aren't they always striking in France? Usually short lived.

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This is bad news. Hopefully it doesn't last too long. I'd be interested to know what the bad working conditions are. My management doesn't have to care about things like that.

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Nooooooooo! :) Seriously, though I hope they get their increases and get back to work so they're happy when they build our Canadian and US fortwos.

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My management doesn't have to care about things like that.

Actually they do. Union or not you are covered by the employment standards act and the right to refuse unsafe work. I have refused what I considered unsafe work or work in an unsafe area. I have NEVER had to go to my union to back me up. My supervisor was always receptive to my concerns and acted immediately to help fix it so it was safe. Some have a vested interest in safety....their kids work there in the summer.I digress.Unsafe conditions mean different things to different people. I am sure they will come to a resolution quickly and resume production.

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Doesn't seem like it's THAT big of a problem, when there's an easy fix:Ship the cars sans le wheels, then send Eddy on a "business trip" to Halifax...Problem solved! ;)Eddie

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The Agence France Presse article is below....in short it says that the strike has caused the loss of over 1400 cars and that although the management offer has increased slightly since the strike began on Thursday, the two sides remain in negotiations and the blockage is intact. There is a festive atmoshphere on the the picket line.....Well they had better get this thing over with ASAP or smart will not get into the black this year, after all.

METZ, 8 oct 2007 (AFP) - 19h02 Smart encore en grève lundi après des négociations "insatisfaisantes" (syndicats) Les ouvriers de l'usine Smart de Hambach (Moselle), en grève depuis jeudi, ont poursuivi le mouvement lundi, les propositions de la la direction ayant été jugées "insatisfaisantes" par les grévistes, a-t-on appris de source syndicale. "La direction a proposé 3% d'augmentation, au lieu de 2% précédemment, avec 80 euros de plus pour les cadres, 70 euros pour les techniciens et 50 pour les ouvriers", a expliqué Jean-Luc Bielitz, délégué syndical CGT chez Smart-France. "Quand on sait que les cadres n'ont suivi le mouvement que deux heures jeudi et que 90% des grévistes sont des ouvriers, on comprend que la direction veut semer la zizanie", a-t-il poursuivi. Les négociations continuent toutefois avec la direction, même si celle-ci essaie, selon le délégué, de "jouer la montre" pour "énerver les troupes" et "tirer aux maximum les négociations vers le bas". Jointe par l'AFP, la direction a confirmé que des négociations étaient en cours, sans préciser la nature de ses dernières propositions. En grève depuis jeudi, 270 des 400 ouvriers réclament des augmentations de salaires nets de 110 à 150 euros par mois quand la direction leur proposait jusqu'alors 40 euros bruts. Les 130 ouvriers non grévistes sont des intérimaires, selon le délégué CGT. Les syndicats demandent également l'embauche de 40 intérimaires ou CDD, qui composent parfois jusqu'à 40% de la chaîne de production, mais la direction n'en envisage que 25. En réaction, les grévistes ont bloqué jeudi l'accès au site pour les camions livrant des roues à Smart. Depuis lundi, ils bloquent également les convois destinés aux filiales et sous-traitants du groupe situés à Hambach. Les syndicats chiffrent à 1.400 voitures les pertes de production depuis le début du mouvement. Le site de Hambach revêt un intérêt stratégique pour Smart, car la ForTwo - deuxième déclinaison de la petite deux-places - qui y est produite doit permettre à la marque de revenir dans le vert après huit ans de lourdes pertes. La ForTwo sortira en 2008 aux Etats-Unis où elle a déjà fait l'objet de 30.000 pré-commandes, a révélé début octobre Dieter Zetsche, le patron de DaimlerChrysler, dont Smart est une filiale.

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'' METZ, 8 Oct 2007 (AFP) - 19h02 Smart again in strike Monday after the negotiations "unsatisfactory" (unions)The workers of the factory Smart of Hambach (Moselle), in strike since Thursday, followed the movement Monday, the direction suggestions having been judged "unsatisfactory" by the strikers, one has learn from union source. "The direction proposed 3% of increase, instead of 2% previously, with 80 Euros of more for the frameworks, 70 Euros for the technicians and 50 for the workers", explained John Luc Bielitz, union delegate CGT with smart-france. "When one knows that the frameworks did not follow the movement that two hours Thursday and that 90% of the strikers are workers, one understands that the direction wants to sow ill-feeling", it followed. The negotiations continue nevertheless with the direction, even if this one tries, according to the delegate, of "to play the watch" for "to irritate the troops" and "to pull to the maxima the negotiations towards the bottom". Joined by the AFP, the direction confirmed that of the negotiations were in course, without specifying the nature of its last suggestions. In strike since Thursday, 270 of the 400 workers claim from the increases of net salaries of 110 to 150 Euros a month when the direction proposed for them even then 40 crude Euros. The 130 workers non-strikers are interim, according to the delegate CGT. The unions ask equally hires it of 40 interim or FIXED-TERM CONTRACT, that compose sometimes until 40% of the chain of production, but the direction envisions only 25. In reaction, the strikers blocked Thursday the access to the site for the trucks delivering wheels to Smart. Since Monday, they block equally the convoys intend for the affiliates and subcontracting situated group to Hambach. The unions amount to 1,400 cars the losses of production since the movement beginning. The site of Hambach clothes a strategic interest for Smart, for the ForTwo - second declination of the small one two places - that there is produced must allow the brand to return in the green after eight years of heavy losses. The ForTwo go out in 2008 to the United States where she already was the object of 30,000 ************, revealed at the beginning of October Dieter Zetsche, the employer of DaimlerChrysler, of which Smart is an affiliate.''

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Hey guysAs for the inside scoop on working conditions in the smart factory...seems that smart wants 140 000 new cars banged out in 2008, numbers never done in their factory for a first year model.Also, a 110 Euro (221$ CDN) raise is a sticking point mngmt. is not even close to matching that number. Long shifts are already an issue with the 400 smart workers, as well as proposed non voluntary rotating Saturday shiftsadding 100 plus extra hours/yr which would be put into a time bank, (not paid out bi-weekly), as another major stumbling block.800 plus support workers in Hamburg are not in the eye of the storm but are getting hit by flying s*#t none the less as the parts-frames etc they provide are sitting idle.Frikken mess and Penske, MB-smart Canada and the planet don't need this but I think there is going to be enough political pressureto get this conflict resolved really quickly. The skinny came from a worker at the plant so take it in context.Blair

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Oops.......Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, HambachHambach. Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, HambachHambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, Hambach, HambachI feel like Bart Simpson at the blackboard.

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I thought France had a 35-hour work week, workers were heavily protected by legislation etc-- how does that fit with what smart is demanding at the factory, especially in light of B_Tisshaw's post (if a true reflection of what's going on). Is what management is asking for even legal there? I can certainly understand why smart wants to produce more of the 451s with the US market coming on line, demand increasing in Canada (and, presumably, elsewhere), and profitability finally in sight... but why did they locate the factory in France, where strikes are almost a national pastime?!?!

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Every day the strike perisists, ~500 cars are wasted.....

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I'm now smarter,

I agree with you, labour laws are pretty tight in Europe, more so in France. But, wherever you are,

the hours you work and what you are paid for are two seperate time cards; time banks are nothing new

to the manufacturing world and generally suit both managment and workers;

For the company, quarterly profit pictures can be skewed to look better or worse, labour-unit ratios,

deductions at source, payroll taxes, and other employer contributions put into later accounting periods,

and for employees; paternity-maternity-leaves extended on banked hours, personal time as well as other

non work related time off are benefits to the time bank system.

Granted, the time bank system cannot be imposed, some plants work on an overtime pay system, and that has its

advantages. At the risk of sounding anti union, I would argue that is one of the reasons GM-Ford and Chrysler

are in the deep cr*p they find themselves in today. Poor designs, shoddy products and myopic coorporate vision

are right up there as contributing factors also.

That said, France is one of the most notorious countries for labour strife. Sarko has alot of work ahead.

To set up shop in France, the tax-cash and wine incentives to Magna and other players in the smartville

masterplan must have been interesting.

Clarification, the raise demanded by workers is reported to be 110 to 150Euros per month. (French media)

and I repeat that the info is based on a now striking workers slant...I am not privy to the negotiations

or really dark secrects of their labour contract. Kreskin is the only true clairevoyant.

I really hope the price tag of landed cars does not go north after this is settled.

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The point is moot, because none are in transit ;)

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MikeTouché, no cars, no price increases due to labour conflict. I really wouldn't want to be a smart sales person right now. Tough sell, what with no cars.Ouch.

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Poor smart salespeople, I guess you could call them NCOs (non commissioned officers ;)).Seriously, they had better get this strike over LIKE NOW!

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Given how common strikes are in France, it must be part of the labour relations "game". For how long do they typically last? And, is this a case of "the usual", or is it something to truly worry about? It's bound to be costing the company a fortune with the production ground to a halt, particularly at a sensitive time like this-- I do hope that everyone can settle and smarts can start rolling off the line again.

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I think the main production of CDN cars only started a couple of weeks ago, so this is in effect delaying the Canadian launch, or making it "softer" than is was going to be. They can't afford to have a stoppage eating into production at this time. If it goes on more than a week, it will be a total disaster.

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I thought France had a 35-hour work week, workers were heavily protected by legislation etc-- how does that fit with what smart is demanding at the factory, especially in light of B_Tisshaw's post (if a true reflection of what's going on). Is what management is asking for even legal there? I can certainly understand why smart wants to produce more of the 451s with the US market coming on line, demand increasing in Canada (and, presumably, elsewhere), and profitability finally in sight... but why did they locate the factory in France, where strikes are almost a national pastime?!?!

My vague recollection is that MB set up in Hambach because they got a huge tax break from the French government. Unemployment was/still is really high in Hambach, which I believe was once a manufacturing centre. So locating smartville there suited everybody's best interests - MB got huge financial incentives and likely a lower wage bill, unemployed people got jobs, and the French government in power at the time likely got a few extra votes.

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Hambach was a rural farming town....Lorraine as a whole was a coal mining centre, but France uses virtually no coal these days (90% nuke) so the miners were laid off in the 60s/70s. This was part of the economic recovery strategy for the region.And....131 CDN spec smarts are en route as of Friday, but the car supply will dry up soon if the strike is not settled shortly.

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There was a settlement yesterday afternoon at 2:30 PM. The wages were raised by 75 Euros a month, from what I can gather at the moment.

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Mike T,Great News!!! :yahoo::yahoo::yahoo: Now we can look forward to getting our new smarts without further angst!!Thanks for the news!

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