Although the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Cold War came to an end in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, 30 years on, the working hours remain different at BMW Group Plant Leipzig, located in the former GDR (East Germany), from those of the automaker’s other factories located in what was once referred to as West Germany. Currently, BMW Group employees in Leipzig work 38 hours per week, compared with 35 for staff at other plants.
Finally, after decades of maintaining the discrepancy, BMW has announced a plan to unify the hours of its plant in former East Germany with those in the west.
The news comes via Automotive News Europe, and follows the announcement of 2 Series Active Tourer production commencing at BMW Group Plant Leipzig. The move to shorten the work week by three hours in the east will take three years, and is set to occur in three phrases from now until completion in 2026.
BMW is slated to hire an additional 300 employees to offset the change in weekly working hours at Leipzig. Volkswagen, which also has manufacturing operations in former East Germany, enacted a similar reduction in hours back in May, but has relied on its current workforce to make up for the shortfall in the form of increased productivity.
Although workers in former East Germany consistently work more hours than their counterparts in the west, Automotive News Europe says data from the German government indicates that workers in the east earn less money.
“More than 30 years after the fall of the wall, our BMW Group workers finally do not have to work three more hours than their colleagues in the west,” added Manfred Schoch, Chairman of the BMW Group Works Council.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]