• Germany edition
 
Portuguese teddy bear makers plead with Merkel
Photo: DPA

Portuguese teddy bear makers plead with Merkel

Published: 12 Nov 2012 15:28 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Nov 2012 15:28 GMT+01:00

It would be a "tragedy" if the Steiff Teddy Bear factory leaves Oleiros, a village 200 kilometres north of Lisbon, José Marques told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Sunday.

The company employs 103 workers and is the fourth largest employer in the region but is mired in rumours that the German owners want to move production to Tunisia where costs are lower.

The Steiff company, which has its headquarters in Baden-Württemberg, has neither confirmed nor denied rumours that it is planning the move, although "the company wants to produce more cheaply," factory director Narciso Guimarães told the Portuguese Jornal de Negocios newspaper.

"I will deploy all methods open to me to share our concerns with Merkel during her visit to Lisbon on Monday, so that she will change the company's mind," Mayor José Marques told Hamburger Abendblatt.

"I want Mrs Merkel to understand how desperate the families of the workers are, how much they are worried about their future and the future of their children," said Marques. If Merkel is serious about wanting to help Portugal, he said, she must act "and make sure German companies stay in our country."

Merkel said she was prepared for this kind of reception in Portugal.

"I think a lot of people will voice the difficulties they face because of the austerity measures," Merkel said in an interview with Portugal's RTP television on the eve of her visit.

The 2,300-strong community in Oleiros is just one of thousands in bailed-out Portugal who are deeply worried over Lisbon's sweeping austerity cuts.

Merkel's trip to defend these cuts in the face of swelling street protests coincides with a review of Lisbon's €78 billion international bailout, and comes at a time of a growing outcry in the eurozone over the impact of austerity measures and a pivotal time in the euro crisis.

Police were deployed in large numbers during Monday's protest, blocking off some streets and holding at bay demonstrators who booed Merkel, accusing her of seeking to dominate Europe by demanding austerity policies to fix state finances.

Portugal's biggest union CGTP said it planned a protest "in defence of national sovereignty" while activists from the "indignant" movement said they would rally under the slogan "Merkel out!"

Despite the hardship, the German leader said there was no need for a renegotiation of Portugal's stringent programme, which has already been relaxed, and no need for a second bail-out.

"Of course a programme of this kind sparks major debate but the government has shown great courage in taking these measures and I have the greatest respect for what this country is doing," she said.

"At this stage there is no reason for a renegotiation. Portugal is respecting its commitments with courage."

Merkel will meet President Anibal Cavco Silva before holding talks with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

At the same time, the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund will conduct a quarterly review of Lisbon's progress in meeting the terms of its bailout. The one-week mission will decide whether to release the next €2.5-billion payment from the programme.

During its last visit, the powers behind the bailout relaxed Portugal's deficit targets in part because of the damage the cut-backs had wrought on the economy, which is in recession with record unemployment.

Portugal has already swallowed the budget pill. Its centre-right coalition last month adopted an austerity budget for 2013 that includes swingeing public spending cuts and sharp tax increases.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has undertaken to lower the public deficit to the equivalent of 4.5 percent of gross domestic product next year, from a target of 5 percent this year.

His government is seeking €5.3 billion in savings in the 2013 budget, 80 percent of which will come from tax hikes.

AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:20 November 12, 2012 by lucksi
And I thought that Steiff was a German company. So, on paper they are and are just producing their German goods somewhere outside of Germany. Figures.
16:43 November 12, 2012 by puisoh
It is heart-breaking, only 103 employees and the 4th largest employer in the region.. I really can feel how these people treasure their job.
16:45 November 12, 2012 by MrNosey
@lucksi

So what? Take a look at other famous companies. It doesn't matter if they're based in Germany, UK, US, Japan, etc. They all produce in low-wage countries.
17:58 November 12, 2012 by Englishted
I worry that Portugal's wage level is already low yet in there greed firms look for even cheaper workers ,where will it end we in Europe simply cannot compete with China on the wage front yet firms are still going there ,sooner rather than later they will destroy Europe .In another article today the rise of the right in East German is highlighted but if governments and capitalists keep shoving austerity down the peoples necks something will crack ,wake up to the fact that bulling Southern Europe is only a trial till they turn on us and it has started but only in a small way,like a cancer it will grow if not checked.
01:43 November 13, 2012 by grazhdanin
What 'crisis'?
19:02 November 15, 2012 by yllusion
This is what the European Union and its members should be fiercely fighting against now. How do they think they will solve the crisis if they allow companies to move abroad and take the jobs and the money to other countries, therefore forcing europeans to unemployment? China is strong today because of 20+ years of neoliberalism, which saw huge companies moving to asia in order to EXPLORE cheap labour and consequently profit more. The basis of our crisis is no other but GREED. The asians, the poor countries were once again explored, while the west suffered the consequences, with only a handful of "smart guys" making millions and billions. And ironically, if we want to impose taxes and sanctions on the east countries to restablish trade balance, the political class will suffer pressure from these big economical players with their production lines settled there. It's clearly a fight against the greedy top layer of our societies and the politicians tied to their parties, which are often financed by those big players, don't dare to take the necessary measures to contain and punish them, and shift the flow of money once again to the workers and to the middle class. Greed tied to corruption is what is dooming us today, and Europe lacks the balls to take serious, paradigm changing measures to fight it.
20:43 November 15, 2012 by Englishted
@ yllusion

Nearly correct but it wasn't "neoliberalism" it was rampant capitalism and it is still there and getting stronger look at the gap between rich and poor world wide is there anywhere it is getting less ?.
14:26 November 16, 2012 by yllusion
I stand by the argument that it was "neoliberalism", which is a child of capitalism anyway, because in the past 30 years many countries have opened their doors and implemented policies to welcome big international companies without safeguarding human and labour rights, without strong economic, financial and judicial policies, thus allowing corruption, and without ensuring that those companies would not only profit but also bring real human development to the communities where they were installed. The wealth of the companies have to be distributed among its employees. It's not acceptable to have workers at minimum wage and shareholders making tens of millions per year each. With power comes responsibility, but responsibility was not demanded. In the past kingdoms were lands, today kingdoms are companies with their wealthy elite.
03:09 November 17, 2012 by soros
The problem with countries like Greece and Portugal is not that they don't work "hard" or can't produce quality, but they don't work smart. Skills need to be taught in trade schools, value needs to be added to a capable workforce, and higher-value products need to be produced. Many countries have unions that have been demanding more while giving less. This includes France and Spain. You want more social benefits, you need to produce more value to pay for it, not borrow money from international lenders.

But, how to get out of this mess?
15:15 November 17, 2012 by steel jaws
The importance for German companies to stay in Germany is of absolute necessity for all of us who wish to stay permanently in this country. Not only do these concerns pay the taxes which keep the nation going, but they also provide the jobs which provide the basis for a contented and peaceful society.

This responsibility is unfortunately being avoided by the owners and managers of ever more enterprises. Only this week, was to read in a local Bielefeld newspaper, that one of the largest Button-making factories in Europe is sacking off 55 employees.

At the same time, the general manager is visiting Asia. Rumours have it, that there a new factory may be established.

Already the firm is increasing its production in other overseas countries, despite the fact that such produce is often of much lower quality than that which is made in Germany.

This short sighted management may over a short period seem an ideal way of avoiding German taxes. The end result however, due to poorer quality and less service, will almost certainly lead to loss of customers and less trust in German Companies as a whole.

It is therefore quite understandable when young employees, working in German firms, are worried about their future chances.
07:38 November 19, 2012 by mitanni
The average German can buy computers for a few hundred euros, have paperthin televisions that fill a wall, get a smartphone for less than a hundred euros, fly around the globe, have nearly free and unlimited phone service around the globe, can get entire libraries for free, live longer and healthier than ever before. Unemployment in Germany is 5%. Yes, that's what capitalism, neoliberalism, and free trade have brought you, and if people don't wreck it with socialist policies, this will continue. You're free to complain about it, but frankly, doing so makes you look rather silly.
Today's headlines
German hospitals ready for Ebola patients
Hamburg's UKE isolation ward is ready to take patients. Photo: DPA

German hospitals ready for Ebola patients

Germany's high-tech isolation wards remained on alert on Friday, ready to receive Ebola patients should they be required to. German airports seemed less prepared for the potential dangers of the viral epidemic, however. READ  

Two die in Bremen plane crash
The fire caused by the crash. Photo: DPA

Two die in Bremen plane crash

UPDATE: Two men died on Friday afternoon when a plane crashed in Bremen, causing a fire and a series of explosions in a warehouse near the city's airport. READ  

Merkel's party mutinies over tax cuts
Merkel in Münster last year at a meeting of her party's workers' wing. Photo: DPA

Merkel's party mutinies over tax cuts

Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a rebellion from within her own party on Friday after an unlikely coalition formed in favour of tax cuts for workers on lower incomes. READ  

Expat Dispatches
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Kleingärten in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

'Look at those German shanty towns!'

Visitors to Germany can sometimes be confused by the country's love of allotments in cities, known as a Kleingarten. Teacher and blogger Kathleen Ralf tells us what it's all about. READ  

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport
Closed until further notice: Berlin's troubled new airport. Photo: DPA

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport

Too few lightning rods and an undersized emergency generator have prevented part of Berlin's new airport from opening. Safety inspectors refused to sign off on the airport's north pier, thwarting progress on the massively delayed construction project. READ  

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal
Photo: DPA

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal

Two thirds of Berlin's 12,000 tourist apartments advertised on sites such as Airbnb were being run illegally from Friday following a law change, leaving hosts open to potential punishment. READ  

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains
Fritzi underneath the train. Photo: Freiwillige Feuerwehr Unterschließheim/DPA

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains

A lost pet goat called Fritzi halted trains to Munich Airport and had to be rescued from the tracks after suffering a concussion. READ  

Germany crowned U19 European Champions
Photo: EPA/Tibor Illyes HUNGARY OUT

Germany crowned U19 European Champions

Germany’s U19 football team added to a glorious summer of sport for the country by winning the European Championships in Budapest on Thursday night. READ  

World War I anniversary
100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak
August 1914. German soldiers march off to war in France. Photo: DPA

100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak

A hundred years ago on Friday Germany declared war on Russia and was preparing for an attack on France in the hope that Britain would stay neutral. Four years on, famine was ravaging the country and two million soldiers had been killed on the battlefield. READ  

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban
Photo: DPA

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban

Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is encouraging lawmakers to hurry up and ban fracking in all but name, saying the process is too dangerous to even consider allowing. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Meet the man allowed to grow his own cannabis
Photo: DPA
Society
Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: DPA
Society
Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,290
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd