Tens of thousands of German auto workers will be on short time during the first few months of 2009.

Workers will receive lower pay for working less time. Under new German laws, companies can adopt short-time working for up 18 months – the limit previously was 12 months.

The German press agency, dpa, has prepared an overview of short-time working at vehicle manufacturing plants.

Around 30,000 Daimler workers will be working reduced hours in early 2009. At the company’s Untertürkheim plant, production will be cut to four days a week, and sometimes three days a week from January to March.

About 20,000 workers at Sindelfingen will be similarly affected. Daimler will pay 80% of salaries during this period while the German government will cover 60-67% of the shortfall. In addition 150,000 workers at 14 Daimler plants have already begun a four-week Christmas holiday until 12 January.

Opel’s Eisenach employees have also started a four-week Christmas break, to adjust production of the Corsa downwards. Opel is currently negotiating to cut the night shift at Bochum, as well as work short-time for 70 days, and reduce the standard working week from 35 to 30 hours.

Porsche will shut its Zuffenhausen plant for 10 days during January. No short-time working is planned but 1,280 fewer 911s will be produced.

Component suppliers are also affected. Bosch workers are taking an extended Christmas break, while Continental plans to take advantage of short-time working. Situations are different at each plant.