The possibility of reduced working hours is looming over several steel processing companies in German and Austria.
The German medium-sized cold-rollers are affected by low demand from the automotive industry, their main customer group. A spokesman at Wälzholz confirms to Kallanish that reduced hours have been introduced, but only in the administration of its Hagen headquarters. Apart from declining domestic orders, the company is normally a strong exporter, and therefore is also hurting from lower global demand, he says.
At nearby Bilstein, also a major player among cold-rollers, a period of short-time work was implemented in autumn. This was scaled back to regular hours however due to the start-up of a new wide quarto reversing cold rolling mill in October. “Because of the new line, we went back to full-time. The operation of a new line is not a piece of cake, you need to train your workforce and rearrange operations,” a company spokesman explains. He notes however that the company remains on standby to introduce short hours again.
Mendritzki in Plettenberg will be on short working time for two months initially with one day off each month for employees, who will be compensated, the company says.
In Austria, voestalpine is preparing for the possibility of reduced hours, its ceo Herbert Eibensteiner says in a press interview. The unit most affected at the company is voestalpine Tubulars, which makes seamless pipes. Late last year, it shortened working time from four to three shifts. This is in line with the trend at German seamless pipes manufacturers.