Uncertain future for Siemens Asia staff

It remains uncertain whether Siemens employees in Asia Pacific (including Japan) would be affected by job cuts following the parent company's plan to slash 2,000 jobs worldwide from its Siemens Business Services (SBS) unit.

SINGAPORE--It remains uncertain whether Siemens employees in Asia Pacific (including Japan) would be affected by job cuts following the parent company's plan to slash 2,000 jobs worldwide from its Siemens Business Services (SBS) unit.

Yesterday, Siemens AG said it planned to eliminate 1,600 jobs from SBS' German operations alone because of slowing demand for computer services. SBS provides services such as IT consulting, systems integration and managing IT infrastructures.

"We don't know yet which countries outside of Germany will be affected...in fact, we don't even know if there will be any retrenchments in Asia Pacific," said Siemens Singapore spokesperson Sharon Teo in a telephone interview today.

She noted in an email yesterday that the "adjustment is an ongoing process" and plans for job reductions would be carried out by the end of next year.

"The Siemens Business Services Managing Board has now presented its plan to the German Works Council and until its approval, there will not be any implementations," Teo said.

She said Siemens Business Services employs about 2,060 employees in the region, including Singapore, Japan, India, Taiwan and China. It has 148 workers in Singapore and a total of 33,500 employees worldwide.

The planned cuts bring the total job losses at Siemens to more than 10,000 so far this year.

According to a Reuters report, the latest round of cuts follow the merger last year of Siemens Business Services with the group's former Information Technology Services unit in a drive to reduce costs and improve profitability.

Siemens spokesperson Peter Gottal said in the report that the company had long planned to look at staffing due to the merger, but had been prompted to make the cuts now because of the flagging state of the IT services market.

Siemens Business Services is one of three units in the Siemens Information and Communications division. The other two units are the Siemens Information and Communication Networks Group and Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group.

Despite the planned job cuts, the Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group said in a statement Wednesday that it would invest a total of US$310 million in Asia to boost mobile telephone output and expand research on third generation (3G) mobile phone technology.

Of the total investment, US$250 million would go into existing research and development centers in Singapore and the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai by 2003, it said.

Siemens would invest the remaining US$60 million in expanding mobile phone production at a Shanghai joint venture--from the current 10 million units to 14 million in 2002, it added. The venture, Siemens Shanghai Mobile Communications Co Ltd, makes mobile phones for China and export to Asia and Europe.

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