One week after the workforce said no to the Steyr site being taken over by investor Siegfried Wolf, the MAN headquarters in Munich took steps to close the plant. “As one of the first measures, we will initially reduce the number of temporary workers at the 278 site by around half over the next few weeks. In a further step, we will also part with the other temporary workers, ”Munich informed the APA.
The aim was to keep the plant under a new owner with a new perspective. After this “Plan A” was rejected, “we are now consistently implementing the announced“ Plan B ”of the closure. There is no 'Plan C' ”, the group clarified.
In addition, negotiations on the social plan begin, as the previous one was linked to a takeover by Wolf. A corresponding invitation was sent to the employee representatives.
Closure could cost VW billions
The planned closure of the plant could cost the German parent company VW billions, believes the Linz civil law expert and rector of the Johannes Kepler University (JKU), Meinhard Lukas. Because there is not only a site security contract for the plant, but also a waiver of termination by the company, termination compensation would be due until 2030 in the event of a closure, said Lukas at the request of the APA.
"It is crucial that this agreement, which was concluded in December 2019, according to my information contains more than a usual site security," said Lukas. "It contains, so is my information, an exclusion of operational dismissals until December 31.12.2030, XNUMX for all employees." In this case, it is a waiver of termination and not just a guarantee of the location.
In Austria, the Labor Constitutional Court provides for a catalog of permissible agreements in company agreements, explained Lukas. "Any kind of securing the location of an abstract nature cannot be the subject of a company agreement, but a waiver of termination can," said the lawyer. "But even if that is not a valid works agreement, the content of the individual contracts of the employees can have become."
For the waiver of termination, the employees would have had to provide something in return and for their part would have waived their rights. "Then there is a lot to suggest that this regulation, even if the works agreement were not valid, has become part of the contract through enforcement between the employer and the individual employee."
The practical consequence of a plant closure and layoffs would be termination payments for the lost wages, "we are talking about billions over the years," says Lukas. Income from new jobs would also have to be taken into account for the amount of compensation.
The legal dispute could be clarified in the labor court if the first employee is dismissed for operational reasons, but a declaratory action would also be possible now, according to the civil law expert.
Lukas does not share the legal opinion of the university professor Wolfgang Mazal, who prepared an expert opinion on behalf of MAN. Mazal had pointed out that the Austrian agreement was bound to a German framework agreement. Since this was lifted, the one in Austria was also suspended, so Mazal's argument. Lukas sees it differently: "If this agreement has been put into effect and MAN has also made use of this regulation and the compensation rules to the detriment of the employees have already been implemented compared to the past, then this waiver of termination has also come into effect and can through Cancellation of the framework agreement are not lost. "(Apa)