Nokia’s decision to shut plant fuels anger in Germany

BERLIN - An influential German state governor voiced anger Wednesday at Nokia Corp.’s decision to shut a manufacturing plant, dismissing its argument that costs are too high and warning that the move could damage Nokia’s image in Germany.

By (AP)

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Published: Wed 16 Jan 2008, 4:39 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:30 PM

Nokia, the world’s biggest cell phone maker, on Tuesday announced the closure of the Bochum plant in the industrial Ruhr region with the likely loss of 2,300 jobs. It cited the location’s lack of competitiveness. A Nokia official said labor costs in Bochum were nearly 10 times those at another plant in Romania.

I am very angry, above all about the way this happened,’ Juergen Ruettgers, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Bochum is located, said on ZDF television. So far, there is no comprehensible reason why this decision was made.’

We are not simply going to accept this _ this is not yet the end of the debate,’ he added.

Ruettgers denied that German labor costs were too high, arguing that they account only for a very small proportion of overall costs.

Nokia must think over what it has done here,’ said Ruettgers, a deputy leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. The German market for cell phones is one of the biggest in the world.’

Pointing to state subsidies granted to the company, Ruettgers said that the move could lead to significant damage to its image’ and that we are checking’ whether there is any chance of recouping subsidies.

Espoo, Finland-based Nokia argues that it already has done its best to make the plant competitive.

Over the past years, we have tried again and again to improve the competitiveness of the Bochum plant,’ board member Veli Sundbaeck said Tuesday.

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