Siemens AG Pledges To Avoid Future Layoffs

BERLIN (AP) — Siemens AG on Wednesday extended indefinitely an agreement with its German employees in which it pledges to avoid layoffs during any future restructuring efforts.

The accord with Siemens' employee council and the IG Metall industrial union was signed in July 2008 and originally was due to expire this month.

The industrial conglomerate now said they reached an "open-ended agreement" to extend the deal. Siemens has a German work force of around 128,000 people.

"This represents a clear and long-term commitment to Germany as a business location," CEO Peter Loescher said.

Siemens will continue to "honor its commitment to implementing work force adjustments, wherever possible, without layoffs due to operational requirements," the company said in a statement.

"As in the past, Siemens will use every possible means to achieve this aim, including shifting personnel between locations and setting up short-time work programs."

Siemens shares were down 1.6 percent at €78.12 ($102.62) on Frankfurt's DAX index of blue-chip stocks, which was about 1 percent lower overall.

Late Tuesday evening, Siemens said it will take a charge of up to €1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) in the current quarter to reflect revised growth prospects at its health care diagnostics business.

It said the impairment charge will have no cash impact and won't affect its overall outlook for its full fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

Loescher said that "due to long-term changes in the overall health care market, it became necessary to reassess growth expectations."

The health care sector's CEO, Hermann Requardt, said that "we haven't achieved our growth targets" but added that the company is now "resolutely tackling this challenge."

In the April-June period, Siemens' fiscal third quarter, the company's overall net earnings were up 9 percent at some €1.44 billion thanks to a strong increase in orders in a recovering economy.