Düsseldorf, March 18, 2020 - The corona virus is also affecting the German aluminum industry. "The German aluminum industry is very concerned about current developments," says Marius Baader, managing director of the Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie e. V. (GDA), Düsseldorf. Important customer industries in Germany and Europe have already started to discontinue or significantly reduce production, others have announced this. The automotive business in particular represents an industrial base load in the aluminum industry.
The number of calls from companies in the aluminum industry, especially from the automotive and mechanical engineering sectors, had already decreased last year. The manufacturers of extruded products felt the decline in demand most clearly; their production in Germany already lost around 10 percent in 2019. "In the first quarter of 2020, we expect further declines in the double-digit range," continued Marius Baader. In the past few weeks, this dynamic has noticeably intensified. "The health and safety of our employees is paramount." To ensure this, companies are currently reorganizing production programs and teams. The protective measures led to inefficiencies in production and further pressure on the profitability of the locations.
In this context, the GDA welcomes the regulations that have already been adopted to make it easier to receive short-time work benefits. "This and the short-term provision of liquidity by KfW are important steps to stabilize employment and companies," said Marius Baader. Fast and unbureaucratic measures are required, which on the one hand contain the corona virus and on the other hand ensure the survival of the companies. The important thing now is to give the companies in the aluminum industry the greatest possible flexibility in maintaining production. Occupational health and safety is paramount even in these times. Nevertheless, companies may have to be able to react flexibly to staff shortages. §14 ArbZG makes it possible to deviate from the statutory working time limit in special situations. The highly complex production facilities of our members cannot be switched on and off at short notice. The possibility of deviating from the prescribed standards if necessary 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, since the supply chain of our industry is organized in a highly division of labor", says Marius Baader. The financial crisis of 2008/2009 showed that the aluminum industry - like other raw materials industries - took significantly longer to reach the pre-crisis level again. "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 are not additionally neglected by rash measures."