History repeats itself after all.

"Make us the Porsche of our industry", demanded Bernard Meyer when he hired the consultants from Porsche Consulting for his shipyard in 2009.

At that time, family entrepreneur Meyer wanted to use management consultants to ensure that his luxury cruise ships could be built faster.

Following the example of the automotive industry and the principle of Lego bricks, the consulting subsidiary of Porsche rebuilt the production.

Since then, large components have been produced in parallel and then assembled as sections in the huge hall on the shipyard in Papenburg.

The lead time on the most important building dock was reduced by three months to now six months.


A good decade later, Porsche Consulting is to rebuild Meyer Werft again, according to WELT information.

But this time the omens are different.

As a result of the pandemic, the global cruise industry has been suspending almost all sea voyages for a year and leaving its ships in ports.

Meyer Werft, which is the world's dominant manufacturer alongside the shipyard groups STX France and Fincantieri from Italy, has not yet lost any new construction orders.

In contrast to earlier plans, however, the total of nine ships to be built by the shipyard will be spread over a longer period up to 2025.

50 of the 120 million euros loss should serve an upcoming social plan


The shipyard owners from the Meyer family name these shifts as the main reason for a high level of downsizing and restructuring.

Allegedly, the shipyard group made a loss of 120 million euros last year.

This should include 50 million euros for an upcoming social plan.

Specifically, shipyard boss Jan Meyer has just given the works council figures: According to this, at least another 600 of the currently around 3800 jobs are to be cut at the headquarters of the shipyard and at the logistics subsidiary EMS Maritime Services in Papenburg.

In the past few months, the workforce has already been reduced by 300 positions.

In addition, the management wants to ensure that the shipyard workers work 200 so-called overtime hours, meaning working hours that are not paid.

If this is not agreed with the employee representatives, the shipyard management has already announced the reduction of another 300 jobs.


The works council speaks of "extortion" and demands insight into the business figures as well as into the personnel planning for the external companies for the upcoming negotiations.

There are major differences precisely on these points: In addition to its own workforce, Meyer Werft employs an approximately as large number of foreign workers.

The management does not provide any details.

These, according to estimates, currently around 3500 workers come from Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey or other European countries.

They are employed by subcontractors through work contracts and are picked up every morning by minibuses from their collective accommodation in the surrounding area and driven to the shipyard.

The hourly wages of these workers are at least a third below the wages of their own shipyard employees.

While the activities were separate from one another in earlier years, the contract workers now also take on tasks from the core areas of shipbuilding such as welding and locksmith work or pipe laying.

Up to now, the ratio of own employment to external work was around half, but this could be reduced to around a third after the downsizing.

Meyer Werft's own share in a new ship and its added value has already been rather low at around 22 percent.

At the company's subsidiary in Turku, Finland, this value is only half as high.

This may also be the target for the parent shipyard in Papenburg.

The shipyard management itself has not yet commented in detail on its plans.


"The entire work organization is to be geared more closely to subcontractors and sub-subcontractors than before," writes the works council in an information sheet.

The employee representatives fear that the shipyard management wants to "replace the team".

The works council management will "not approve dismissals if there is enough work".

That's what it looks like at the shipyard at the moment: This week, construction of a new cruise ship for around 5000 passengers for the Carnival shipping company P&O Cruises began in the large shipyard hall.

The “Arvia” will be the sister ship of the recently completed “Iona”.

At the same time, the shipyard workers are building a ship for the Disney group.

According to WELT information, the works council has received several requests for overtime in individual departments of the company.

A cruise ship costs around one billion euros

The two largest cruise groups in the world, Carnival Corporation with its subsidiary Aida, as well as Royal Caribbean and Disney, have placed orders on the order list.

A typical price for a large cruise ship is around one billion euros.

For the time being, the management has reduced the short-time work from last year for large parts of the production to three hours a week.

Several days of negotiations on a social plan are to follow in the next few weeks, but appointments have not yet been agreed.

So far, the shipyard management had planned to reach an agreement by the end of March.

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