Ace: why the stockheim school furniture manufacturer wants to cut staff

ace: why the stockheim school furniture manufacturer wants to cut staff

One rough wish was not granted to ulrich spreen: when the stockheim-based company ASS decided to cut 21 jobs in october 2013, the union secretary of IG metall coburg hoped that this would at least help the company for furnishing systems to recover economically – and that no more jobs would be put at risk. Almost five years later the time has come again. "Due to the slump in orders in one of the business units, there will be adjustments at the personnel level", silke stegner, who is responsible for marketing, sales and human resources at ASS as a member of the management team, confirmed this to our editorial team when asked.

Not compensable

The number of jobs involved was not disclosed in the written response. According to FT information, however, the number of jobs to be cut will be between 40 and 50. It is unclear exactly which area of the business is affected. According to stegner, however, this area had suffered such high losses that they could not be compensated for by the gains made by the core areas in stockheim. Savings are therefore necessary, argues the family-owned company founded in 1937. The core business of educational furniture – i.E. Chairs, tables, blackboards or whiteboards for schools – is not affected. ASS is even planning an increase in sales in this division for fiscal year 2018 and also wants to focus more strongly on this in the future.

On monday, the ASS works council informed the union IG metall coburg, which is responsible for the stockeimer union members. "We do not yet know to what extent the personnel adjustments are to take place and to what extent we are involved in this from the point of view of works constitution law, says nicole ehrsam, political secretary at IG metall, who is entrusted with the case. It will take one to two weeks before sufficient information is available to be able to provide well-founded information and develop a plan.

She was told by the works council – which could not be reached by our editorial team on friday – that ASS wanted to reach an agreement on a social contract. "In other words, the company may approach older colleagues who are about to retire in order to work out severance agreements, ehrsam explains. "In addition, they probably wanted to let temporary contracts expire. But we do not know more exactly yet." for this reason, the trade union's motto now is: wait and see. Wait and see if the company approaches union members or even if there are layoffs after all. And advise the works council how to proceed now. The most important thing was to have figures presented to the company.

External expert

One possibility could be to bring in an external expert to look for optimization needs or savings potentials. "So that the company can use the capital it has in personnel to change certain things", ehrsam explains. "That it is not always a question of saving wages and personnel costs, but that a few other things come to mind that can be changed in order to possibly retain personnel."

When ASS announced job cuts in august 2013, there was initially talk of around 60 employees losing their jobs. In the end, as we know, it was two thirds less. This is very unusual and leaves "many doubts open", said IG metall union secretary spreen at the time. This is probably one of the reasons why the company is not disclosing any figures for the time being, in order to avoid similar irritations this time.

Already five years ago, order shortages were the reason for the job cuts. At that time ASS wanted to restructure and reposition itself. Because before the focus was on the school equipment, from 2013 also colleges, seminar rooms and dormitories should be equipped. "Everything is done by social contract. There will be voluntary redundancies", explained silke steigner at that time. A procedure that is apparently to be applied this time as well. But what does "social contract" mean?? Usually a point grid is used to decide which employees are "least socially vulnerable" are, according to spreen.

Points would be awarded, for example, for marital status, years of service and severe disability. Unmarried and childless employees, who have not been with the company for long, receive the fewest points and are therefore usually at the top of the redundancy list.

Brief chronicle: family business for 81 years

1937 adam stegner founds a sawmill with 15 employees.

1948 start of furniture production.

1956 ass produces school furniture and school equipment for the first time.

1961 peter stegner joins the company.

1974 start of the export business.

1990 to 1998 takeover and development of the plants in probstzella, hungary and loitz. 2000 handover of the company to twin brothers matthias and michael stegner.

2013 ASS wants to reposition itself and cuts 21 jobs.

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