Coronavirus Impact German Aluminum Industry Expects Drop in Production
As a result of the corona crisis, customer sectors in Germany and Europe have already begun to stop or significantly reduce production, others have announced this. The automotive business in particular represents an industrial base load in the aluminum industry.
"The German aluminum industry is looking at current developments with great concern," says Marius Baader, Managing Director of the General Aluminum Association Gesamtverband der
Aluminiumindustrie e. V. (GDA), Düsseldorf. The number of call-offs from companies in the aluminum industry, especially from the automotive business and mechanical engineering, had already fallen last year. The manufacturers of extruded products felt the drop in demand most severely; their production in Germany already lost around 10 % in 2019. "In the first quarter of 2020 we expect further double-digit declines," continued Marius Baader. In recent weeks, he said, this momentum has intensified noticeably once again. "The health and safety of our employees is paramount". To ensure this, the companies are currently reorganising their production programmes and teams. The protective measures led to inefficiencies in production and further pressure on the profitability of the sites.
In this context, GDA welcomes the regulations already adopted to make it easier to draw short-time working allowances. "This and the short-term provision of liquidity by KfW are important steps towards stabilising employment and companies," says Marius Baader. What is needed are quick and unbureaucratic measures that on the one hand contain the coronavirus and on the other hand ensure the survival of the companies. It was now important to give companies in the aluminum industry the greatest possible flexibility in maintaining production. Occupational health and safety is paramount, even in these times. Nevertheless, companies must be able to react flexibly to staff shortfalls under certain circumstances. Section 14 of the ArbZG makes it possible to deviate from the statutory limitation of working hours in special situations. The highly complex production facilities of our members cannot be switched on and off at short notice. The possibility to deviate from the prescribed standards in case of need can protect the industry from massive damage.
In addition, the free movement of goods in Europe is vital for the aluminum industry. "The free movement of goods must be maintained in any case, as the supply chain of our industry is organised on the basis of a high degree of division of labour", said Marius Baader. The financial crisis of 2008/2009 had shown that the aluminum industry - similar to other basic industries - needed much longer to return to pre-crisis levels. "Political action should take into account the special competitive situation of the aluminum industry vis-à-vis non-European market competitors and ensure that the locations in Germany do not fall further behind as a result of ill-considered measures".