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Siemens agrees to help dismissed BenQ staffers

German vendor Siemens bowed to pressure from workers union IG Metall on Friday and agreed to finance job placement companies for the dismissed workers of failed Taiwanese-German joint venture, BenQ Mobile.

BenQ Mobile, which was established just over a year ago when the German firm effectively paid BenQ Eur50m to take the ailing division off its hands, was closed down in October when BenQ announced that it could not turn the loss making division around.

In a show of solidarity to its former employees, Siemens executives sacrificed a 30 per cent pay rise for a year in order to help set up a hardship fund for BenQ Mobile employees. Total contributions to the fund from Siemens approached the Eur60m mark.

But under increasing pressure from the unions Siemens has developed a plan to make additional funds available to job placement companies. Financing of the job placement companies for the whole of 2007 is secure.

IG Metall has claimed that the total package is worth around Eur180m – a claim which Siemens has denied.

“The primary goal of the two job placement companies in Munich and in Kamp-Lintfort is to place BenQ Mobile employees in the job market. If former BenQ Mobile employees in the job placement companies have not found a job by January 1, 2008, Siemens will find ways to alleviate severe financial need,” said Jurgen Radomski, head of Corporate Personnel at Siemens.

Meanwhile, Siemens, which had the offices of its managing executives raided last week, has also come under scrutiny by Liechtenstein authorities over allegations of fraud and bribery.

Last week the firm said that the offices of board members were among those searched in a raid as a slush fund scandal gathered momentum in Germany. The raids were linked to allegations that up to Eur100m was paid as bribes to secure contracts.

Liechtenstein authorities now suspect bank accounts within the country were used to transfer bribes in connection with Siemens’s telecoms activities in Asia, Africa and Europe.

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