Meyer relocation plan on ice amid protests

Meyer talks to concerned workers Meyer talks to concerned workers

Germany’s biggest shipyard Meyer Werft has agreed to put on ice until September its plans to relocate its business headquarters to Luxembourg to allow talks with authorities on the controversial move, reports Tom Todd.

At the same time yard head Bernard Meyer assured some of the group’s 3,300 workers in Papenburg of his continued loyalty and said the planned relocation was designed to ensure the future of the yard and its employees. He expressed irritation and disappointment at criticism of his plans - a reference to concern that the move might whittle away workers’ rights.

The Meyer Group, with headquarters in Rostock, has said it wants a new office in Luxembourg from this autumn to control central purchasing for the yard’s three locations - Papenburg, Rostock and Turku in Finland.

A yard spokesman told The Motorship however that a moratorium had been agreed at talks between Bernard Meyer and Lower Saxony Economics Minister Olaf Lies. Lies and others have protested the move and want the yard HQ to remain in Germany. The spokesman said: “It was agreed to clarify the issue up to September. Nothing pertaining to operations in Luxembourg will be undertaken until then”.

Meyer said the main aim of the move was “to emphasise our international orientation, to enable us to prevail in the murderously competitive world market. This is not a tax-saving measure; our taxes will continue to be paid in Papenburg, Rostock and Turku, just as before”.

It also said however that a further result of the move would be to bypass the creation of a supervisory board, which Meyer does not have and says is not needed for the family concern. It said recent orders for seven new ships “showed clearly” that a board “would have had an extremely obstructive effect and perhaps even hindered the ultimate success of the negotiations”.

The row over Meyer’s business plans came as TUI Cruises announced orders for Mein Schiff 7 and 8 securing work at Meyer Turku in Finland until 2020. 

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