News Briefs

+++Commerzbank Job Cuts

Commerzbank aims to cut up to 450 jobs by outsourcing its accounting processes to the eastern half of Germany, which has lower wages than the western half, and to neighboring Poland, according to sources close to Handelsblatt. The jobs will be absorbed by the bank’s subsidiaries and come on top of the 5,200 job cuts announced last year. The bank has not officially confirmed any reductions in its workforce, saying only that it plans to “restructure” its finance department and that talks with employee representatives have begun. “This outsourcing process is all about pushing down wages by giving jobs to companies without collective agreements on tariffs,” said Mark Roach from Verdi, Germany’s largest trade union.

 

+++Social Democrats Looking For Voters

Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, said at an event in Leipzig that the party intends to do more to win the support of entrepreneurs and the self-employed as it competes for voters. Although the SPD has kept its promise to introduce a minimum wage and a retiring age of 63, the party is struggling to improve its popularity among voters, currently ranked at only 25 percent. Mr. Gabriel is also under pressure to back off of the country’s restrictive arms policy. Last week, representatives of German defense contractors wrote a letter asking Mr. Gabriel to reconsider his position. The industry hoped the SPD would do more to strengthen its position in arms exports and protect jobs in the sector.

 

+++Former Media Mogul Battles Law Suits

Thomas Middelhoff, the former chief executive of Bertelsmann, is battling a number of lawsuits in Germany. But his day in a court in Essen on Monday, concerning a lawsuit brought against him by one of Germany’s most influential consultants, Roland Berger, will be remembered by many: Middelhoff jumped off a court building to avoid journalists reporting on the case, which is about a €7.5 million breach of trust in a joint business venture. Mr. Middelhoff said his leap was “like a cat from a (hot) tin roof. Earlier, the former top manager had given an oath of disclosure on his financial assets. “I am not broke,” he said.

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