The management board and works council at Schaeffler Technologies have agreed on the transfer of wheel bearing production and 400 associated job cuts by 2016 at the bearing specialist's Schweinfurt location.

The jobs "will be cut in a socially-responsible manner", the supplier said in a statement.

"Automotive activities will be continued in the long term in Schweinfurt with approximately 430 employees working in the wheel bearings and special bearings sector, as well as in the development of new, forward-looking products," it added.

Schaeffler last Junes said it would end volume production of wheel bearings in Schweinfurt by the end of 2016 and transfer this to other locations. It cited "extreme pressure in terms of costs and competitors in this segment, which no longer enables wheel bearings to be manufactured economically at the Schweinfurt location".

Automotive jobs in development, design and sales will be maintained long term, though and Schaeffler will also increase the number of jobs for new, "forward-looking automotive products" in future.

The supplier said around 85 jobs are already planned for "specific projects" while Schweinfurt "will also be considered as a preferred location for further projects".

"We can be assured that automotive activities will continue in the long term at the Schweinfurt location with forward-looking products and approximately 430 employees," automotive board member Wolfgang Dangel said in the statement.

The axing of the 400 jobs by 2016 was extended a year after discussions with affected parties.

"Retaining wheel bearing production offers no permanent prospects and puts jobs at risk. We are placing our trust in forward-looking products. In return, we have implemented solutions, which allow the associated cuts to be made in a socially-responsible manner", said works council chairman Norbert Lenhard.

Schaeffler is also offereing Schweinfurt workers an additional 200 "progressive retirement places" over and above the previously agreed quota of 4% which, it said, would allow employees "a graduated transition into retirement".

The executive board and works council have also inked special settlement agreements which guarantee employees who leave the company voluntarily additional financial benefits on top of the benefits from the existing basic social compensation plan.

"The job cuts will also be implemented by means of internal transfers. An extensive range of training and qualification measures will prepare employees for the requirements of new products and technologies," the supplier said.