Eight thousand people demonstrated against announced job cuts at contract vehicle assembler and roof system supplier Karmann in Osnabrueck on Saturday.

In October Karmann announced that it would cut 1,800 jobs, or around a quarter of its workforce, at its plants in Rheine and Osnabrueck because of a decline in vehicle assembly. Part of the reason for the decline is Audi's decision to cease outsourcing assembly of the A4 convertible. In addition, Karmann will lose contracts to assemble the Chrysler Crossfire in 2008 and the Mercedes CLK in 2009. A further 800 jobs are at risk in vehicle assembly if no new orders come in.

Vehicle manufacturers' production systems have become a lot more flexible and it is much easier for them to build niche vehicles in-house.

The German press agency reported that demonstrators marched with placards saying "Work for Karmann - the region must survive!" Lower Saxony state president  Christian Wulff took part in the march. He believes that Karmann is an important employer in the region. The fact that his state owns a 20% stake in Volkswagen led to speculation last month that Volkswagen may step in to rescue Karmann by acquiring it.

Another demonstration is planned for 24 November at the Rheine plant.

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