Michael wehner bamberg – it is a cloudy wednesday in september when the bomb bursts in the industrial area in hallstadt: at a works meeting called at short notice, the workforce of tire manufacturer michelin learns that the hallstadt site will close on 31. To be closed on january 2021. The shock could hardly have been more severe: as recently as 2018, a site continuation agreement had been signed with the french company management. According to the plan, the hallstadt plant should have existed at least until 2022. But nothing comes of it – not least because of the sales difficulties for the 16-inch tires. For bamberg, this means that despite all the protests against the breach of contract, a success story that has lasted for almost five decades is about to come to an end. 860 employees lose their jobs. A huge industrial site is looking for a new use.
The news of the job losses has shaken not only hallstadt but the entire bamberg region, where 20,000 employees depend on the fortunes of the automotive supply industry.
Just how uncertain their prospects are after years of austerity is shown not only by the michelin case, but by a whole series of crisis news items that run like a red thread through 2019 and make bamberg fear for the future of its most important industry. In april, 3,000 bohemians had already taken to the streets to demonstrate by living example what is at stake for the region if bosch wobbles. Because if the rapid electrification of the vehicle fleets came about, a large proportion of the 7,000 jobs still at bosch in bamberg would be threatened, because the focus would still be on the production of diesel components.
Meanwhile, other figures show just how much the uncertain future of a key industry is weighing on bamberg: bamberg’s business tax revenues are plummeting in 2019 and 2020, so that for the first time the city is talking about a 100-million hole in the budget. After the failure of the largest company in the region, bosch, another industry giant has also contributed to this: brose. In 2019, the french flagship company will also have to give way. In november, the management announces the elimination of 2200 jobs in germany; according to an initial report, 400 jobs will be eliminated in bamberg and hallstadt.
But there are also good signs in the crisis autumn of 2019. The expansion of the brose site at breitenau in bamberg is only postponed not canceled, says the headquarters of the family-owned company. The plot of land that brose bought from the city is therefore left out of the city’s nature conservation plans. And at the end of the year, bosch is once again in the news. A site continuation agreement, buried by many, guarantees the existence of bosch in bamberg until 2026 and stands for the feeling of the staff. For the compromise, 7,000 employees give up part of their working hours – and their salaries.
Meanwhile, bosch’s hopes for the future rest on two pillars: the little-known e-fuels, synthetic fuels produced from renewable raw materials, and the mobile fuel cell. It will one day replace the diesel as the drive unit. For bamberg this would have been a huge success.