Unilever reduces job cuts at German Knorr factory after union protests

Unilever, the global consumer goods giant, has agreed to cut fewer jobs than initially planned at its Knorr soup factory in Auerbach, Germany, after facing strong opposition from the local union and workers. The company said it will keep 95 jobs at the site, instead of cutting more than half of the 175 jobs as previously announced.

Unilever plans to close three production lines at Auerbach plant

The dispute started in January, when Unilever informed the workers and the Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG) that it will close three of the six production lines at the Auerbach plant by October. The plant produces a range of products under the Knorr brand, such as instant soups, sauces, pasta, bouillon pots and cubes, and seasonings.

Unilever said the decision was part of its strategic changes to secure the future of the factory in a highly dynamic market. The company said it will transfer the production of the affected products to other locations in Europe, and that it will maintain the operations of the remaining three lines at the Auerbach plant.


Union and workers oppose Unilever’s decision and demand alternatives

The NGG and the workers rejected Unilever’s decision and demanded alternatives to save the jobs and the factory. They said the company was sacrificing the workers for profitability reasons, and that they had worked hard for the company for decades, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NGG and the workers launched a series of protests and actions to pressure Unilever to reconsider its decision. They held rallies, demonstrations, and strikes, and received support from local politicians, media, and customers. They also filed a lawsuit against Unilever, challenging the legality of the decision.

Unilever and union reach a compromise to reduce job losses

After weeks of negotiations and consultations, Unilever and the NGG reached a compromise to reduce the number of job losses at the Auerbach plant. Unilever agreed to keep 95 jobs at the site, instead of the original 80 jobs that it had offered. The NGG agreed to drop the lawsuit and accept the closure of two production lines, instead of three.

The details of the compromise are still being worked out internally and in confidential discussions with all parties involved. Unilever said it will provide the affected workers with severance packages, early retirement options, and retraining opportunities. The NGG said it will monitor the implementation of the agreement and ensure the rights and interests of the workers.

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