Blog: Dave LeggettWhy Bochum?

Dave Leggett | 15 October 2004

Why is the cost-cutting finger being pointed at GM Europe's Bochum plant? Well, it's old (and the huge Russelsheim facility isn't after an overhaul a few years back), it's pretty big, the workers - being German - are relatively costly and the plant makes the Astra model, the production of which can fairly easily be consolidated elsewhere in Europe where it is also made. The rumour mill says that its closure is coming, but right now GM has its hands rather full with the labour unions over what has so far been announced.

Sounds like Europe's industrial centre of gravity is moving inexorably a little further east once again. Is the industrial 'hollowing out' of Germany in prospect, maybe in a manner not dissimilar to what has been taking place in Japan? Maybe so, and the politicians (and industrialists) had better work out a decent strategy to deal with it. What follows commoditised goods manufacturing when other places do it as well and cheaper? Don't get in the competitive pit with the Indians and Chinese perhaps (or eastern Europeans even, and Russia's coming to the EU and it's not so far off, mark my words), but make sure you're still ahead of them in some areas. Or it's a free-for-all and you may be able to buy goods at spectacularly attractive prices, but you won't have a job. And you can forget your pension.

I've just read through the above para. You have to realise that I write this stuff on the hoof and I really don't want to end the week on such a low note. Look, I'm knackered (I won't go into the details, but I've had a hairy week - I'm drained) and I can assure you that the decline of Western civilisation will be the last thing on my mind when I get down the pub later on tonight. Why couldn't the England football team beat Azerbaijan, FIFA ranked 897, by more than one goal this week? Was David 'that is not a silly tattoo on the back of my neck, it's art' Beckham displaying hitherto unseen intelligence and nouse by admitting gamesmanship or has he just messed up yet again? Does three forwards with Rooney playing behind the front two really work? Where next for Sven (team to manage that is, not sexual partner)? And is it poor-German-who-can't-wait-to-get-back-to-the-fatherland Berti Vogts' fault that the Scotland team are so lamentable that they draw with the likes of Moldova? (And, prey tell, where is Moldova exactly?) Yep, as Bill Shankly said, football is not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that. Apologies for my rapid descent into English parochialness (does such a word exist?). Whatever you're up to, have a good weekend. And, er,....cheers!

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