Scania unions reject MAN takeover

Trade unions representing staff at Swedish truckmaker Scania have rejected MAN AG's 475 kronor per share takeover offer, saying the deal would lead to Swedes being sacked instead of Germans.

Swedish trade unions pointed out yesterday that MAN’s workers have an agreement with their main trade union, IG Metall, protecting them from dismissal until 2012, whereas no such agreement exists in Sweden.

Top employee representative Kjell Wallin, who sits on Scania’s board, told the Financial Times: “If they have protection until 2012 and (the management has) to cut jobs to earn cost savings, where will they cut? Sweden. We are wide open.”

Wallin said up to 7,000 German jobs are protected and pointed out that MAN is committed to finding €500 million in cost savings from a merger.

The FT said Swedish unions enjoy considerable public backing when Swedish companies are threatened by foreign predators.

“We can get opinion behind us,” said Wallin.

The newspaper also said the matter could test the new Swedish government, which has pledged to make unemployment its number one priority.

Wallin told the FT that the merger would only get union support if there were “equal treatment of both Scania and MAN”.

Harald Flassbeck, the IG Metall representative on MAN’s board, said that “under no circumstances” would MAN give up its agreement with its German workers.