Continental expands restructuring, hitting 30,000 jobs - GulfToday

Continental expands restructuring, hitting 30,000 jobs

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German auto-parts maker Continental said on Tuesday that it would expand its vast restructuring programme to affect 30,000 jobs, as the coronavirus pandemic ravages global vehicle production.

Continental aims to save more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) annually from 2023, doubling a previously announced savings target, it said in a statement.

More than 30,000 jobs worldwide -- around 13 per cent of its workforce -- will be “modified, relocated or made redundant,” the company said, with about 13,000 of those in Germany.

The Hanover-based company blamed “persistently low global vehicle production as well as the deepening economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” Continental does not expect vehicle production to return to the pre-crisis levels of 2017 before 2025.

In August, it said net profit plunged 41 per cent to 485 million euros in the second quarter.

“The entire automotive industry is currently faced with enormous challenges. It has not experienced a larger, more severe crisis in the past 70 years,” Continental chief executive Elmar Degenhart said.

The company had originally announced measures in September 2019 that would have affected up to 20,000 jobs worldwide, including some 7,000 in Germany.

But Continental said the numbers don’t take into account any jobs created by new ventures in digital technology, automated driving or from electric cars.

Continental trailed Germany’s blue-chip DAX index Tuesday, shedding 2.4 per cent versus a rise of 0.1 per cent for the DAX as a whole.

EUROZONE  UNEMPLOYMENT:  At first glance, unemployment across the 19 countries that use the euro currency appears remarkably low in the face of a savage recession brought on by the coronavirus. It’s unlikely to remain so over the coming months as government support measures start to expire.

Official figures show that the eurozone’s unemployment rate rose modestly to 7.9% in July as job losses were held down by temporary government job-support programs. But weaker inflation amid sweeping announcement of layoffs suggest that the eurozone economy faces a long struggle to recover.

The eurozone’s overall jobless rate inched up from 7.7% in June as the number of people labeled as unemployed increased by 344,000, according to Eurostat. In the same month a year earlier the jobless rate was 7.5% By comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate has leapt from 3.6% at the start of the year to 14.7% in April before falling to 10.2% in July. Some US businesses got forgivable loans if they kept people on under a paycheck protection program.

Government programs that temporarily pay most of workers’ wages if companies put them on shorter hours or no hours have helped keep millions on the job - but the respite may not last as the programs come to an end and the coronavirus continues to restrict travel and activity.

“When the clock strikes midnight, however, and short-time work schemes come to an end, the fairy tale is unlikely to continue,” said analysts at ING bank. “We expect a second wave of job losses towards the end of the year and going into 2021 although the peak in unemployment should still remain below the highs seen in the aftermath of the financial crisis.”

Major employers have announced thousands of layoffs to counter what is expected to be reduced business in the months ahead. Some are household names such as automaker Renault, airline Lufthansa, travel company TUI, and industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.

Virus cases have risen in Spain, France and Germany in recent days, raising fears of a further wave of restrictions on gatherings and activity.

A further sign of weakness in the eurozone economy was evident in August inflation figures showing consumer prices falling by 0.2% from the year before. The negative reading was down from a 0.4% increase in July. Analysts attributed some of the drop to the late timing of summer sales in France and Italy and to a cut in sales taxes paid on consumer purchases in Germany.

The European Central Bank is pumping 1.35 trillion euros ($1.6 trillion) in newly printed money into the economy through bond purchases, a step aimed at pushing up inflation to more normal levels and supporting the recovery. ECB officials have said the bank intends to use the full amount due to the bank’s baseline expectation for a very subdued inflation outlook.


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