Unions Condemn Nokia's Closure Of German Plant

European Metalworkers' Federation criticized Nokia but said it did not want to escalate the dispute with an EU-wide day of action to protest the plant closure and loss of 2,300 jobs.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — German workers Wednesday failed to win support for an EU-wide day of action to protest mobile phone maker Nokia Corp.'s planned closure of a plant with the likely loss of 2,300 jobs.
Germany union leaders walked out of a meeting of the European Metalworkers' Federation after the pan-European group criticized Finland-based Nokia but said it did not want to escalate the dispute with the company.
German politicians and employees have voiced anger at the company's decision to shut down the Bochum plant in the industrial Ruhr region without consulting workers, while planning to move production to Romania or Hungary, where costs are much lower.
Workers at the plant had hoped for other European countries to support their fight and embarrass the company with an EU action day on Feb. 28 when the company is due to take a final decision on the factory's future.
Gisela Achenbach, union leader at Nokia Bochum, said she was upset that employees at Nokia's Finnish sites would not back her call for more protests at a union meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
''We left out of protest,'' she said. ''I am really disappointed, I never thought this could happen ... We were disappointed that our Finnish colleagues tried to justify the closure of the plant.''
EMF chief Peter Scherrer said the European group of unions wanted to talk and did not want to see things escalate even though they believed Nokia had behaved wrongly by not telling workers it was closing the plant — as it should have according to German law and EU guidelines.
Unions and company management would take legal advice to see if the company had broken an EU trade union agreement, the EMF said.
Last week, some 15,000 people in the town demonstrated against the company's plans, and surveys showed that many Germans would boycott products of the world's largest mobile phone maker.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had spoken with Nokia management and criticized the company's decision.
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